We dare not lose heart for the sake of young people

We all know the heartsore of seeing a young person we were close to, walking far from the Lord, happily cruising a wide road to destruction.

It is easy to become somewhat dismayed by the apparent lack of spiritual growth in many of the young people we’ve ministered to and with over the years.

I remember finding out that most of the young guys from the child and youth care centre my wife and I worked at in the mid-90s in King William’s Town had already passed away. Many in violent situations or through drug overdoses.

Were all those years spent in vain?

While that may be a drastic example, we all know the heartsore of seeing a young person we were close to, walking far from the Lord, happily cruising a wide road to destruction.

As Christians, we’re not immune to being discouraged, disappointed, dismayed and disillusioned – especially after being involved in heavy ministry years.

Yet, and there’s always a yet, all is not lost, and we are urged by Jesus not to lose heart. As Christian servant leaders, we are to persevere and exercise patience, doing whatever we can to help young people not lose heart.

A national atmosphere of doom

Sadly, the pervasive language currently in our country includes highly negative language such as:

  • “clutter and chaos”;
  • “disarray”;
  • “a mess”.

Mark Barnes (former CEO of the SA Post Office) in an open letter to the President kicks off with a strong statement that South Africa is on the verge of total socio-economic collapse. Fortunately, he goes on to use a “nonetheless” (thank God for conjunctions), that hope and progress is around the corner, if our State President tackles 10 high level issues.

I love his positivity that

“we South Africans are also waiting. We want common purpose, we want economic dignity and we want our national pride back.”

While we may not be able to affect these macro issues much, we are certainly able to help young people around us take the first steps in hope, overcoming inertia, lethargy, depression and hesitancy.

Seeing things as Jesus does

As mature Christians, we are in the business of seeing things differently. Jesus introduced new ways of thinking, regarding, viewing, judging, assessing, approaching. His ways show a kind of “upside down” kingdom, one where we see things differently, through God’s eyes – with different values.

In many passages, Jesus urges believers not to lose hope – such as John 14:27 and John 16:33. And he led his disciples in a context that included cruel Roman oppression, rampant corruption, poverty and the stifling, overbearing hypocrisy of the Pharisaical religious elite.  What an example of patient perseverance, teaching and encouraging, under tough conditions.

It’s never too late

While hiking yesterday, my wife thought of her past “Sunday school” girls over the years, and how it isn’t actually too late to make contact with some of them, and perhaps pick up the threads of former relationships.

Missed opportunities can become current second chances.

Against the grain, Christian children’s ministry workers, youth pastors, parents and teachers show heart and hope. We engage, we encourage, we are glasses half full, we look to a great future, we see amazing things on the horizon! As the Holy Spirit empowers us, so we are able to “add heart” for young people.

We have to have heart! Can you echo the words of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18?

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

When all else fails

We are welcomed and urged to bring our requests to God – requests that are in line with His will. A good reminder is in Philippians 4:6-7. We are to pray for the young people who are in, or have been in, our circle of influence. (How long is your list?  I need to grow mine…)

If you have the opportunity to help maximize heart and hope in a young person, don’t shy away.

And for older folk out there, the age-old SU practice of mature Christians keeping contact with young believers after camps, and encouraging them in the faith is one worth developing. If God has placed you in the privileged position of influencing young lives, take up this challenge to KEEP CONTACT, or RENEW CONTACT.

May the Holy Spirit fill you with passion, energy and heart as you step out in this noble endeavour.

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Author: Alan Pitt
Alan plays tennis and at times serves as SU Operations Director. Married to Cath, Alan is blessed with two amazing children. Tegan works as a physiotherapist in the Eastern Cape (Madwaleni Hospital) and Thomas is into nature management (at a game farm near Ceres). Alan remains a Novak Djokovic and Liverpool fan.
Published: 11 October 2022
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