Our youth are our future. The youth are the future of the church. Or are they? Maybe it would be better for us to recognize that the youth are as much a part of our present as they are the future. We can treat them like children, or ignore them until they’re adults, and then we’ve lost them, or at least we’ve made it more difficult for them to understand what it means to be a part of the church. And that’s in this country where at least there is a history of strong Christianity.
But imagine growing up in a culture in which instead of learning about Jesus on Sunday morning, instead of having cookies and milk before kneeling down to say your prayers, instead of having the opportunity to go to church camp and church trips, you grow up hungry. You grow up not knowing if you’re going to eat today. You grow up knowing that because of your present social status, your future is bleak to say the very least.
Statistics show that about 40% of the population of India is under 18 years of age. 40% of 1.3 billion is a pretty big number, and a large percentage of that 40% belong to the lowest class. Similar numbers are the norm for other countries in the area. Hundreds of millions of children and youth going to bed hungry, being introduced to drugs and gangs, being forced into slave labor, or sold into the lucrative field of human trafficking. Hundreds of millions of young people who because they lack basic medical care, have severe health problems. Problems which will only get worse as they get older…if they get older.
South Asia has the highest percentage of malnourishment in the world. About 20% of childhood deaths IN THE WORLD occur in one country: India. And although that may break the hearts of people in the affluent part of the world, in that society most people don’t care about one less member of the lowest class. Dalits (untouchables) are the most neglected and most vulnerable children in the world.
But there are missionaries who care. Gospel for Asia cares, and the GFA churches sponsor medical clinics, have feeding programs, reach out to the youth who have the potential to be the future of an important part of the world. Some of these churches offer VBS and children who have never heard about Jesus are accepting him as Lord and Savior.
Pray that each child who attends VBS will learn to trust Jesus.
In this country many of our youth have the opportunity to participate in short term missions trips. They head off for a week or so of their summer vacation, and share the gospel in tangible ways, but teen-aged missionaries aren’t necessarily the norm. In Asia, however, where Christianity is not always the major religion, teenagers who hear about Jesus often, and often at great risk to themselves, learn to share the gospel with family and friends. After they’ve had some successes with those within their circle of influence, it’s easy for them to continue to share the Good News with others.
Pray for these young missionaries, not just the future, but the present of the church in Asia.