Churches must get radical in rescuing the youth
Concerned that an alarmingly high percentage of today's youth are being caught up in detrimental activities - including drugs, gangs, sex, extremist groups and all manner of evil - Pastor Charles Francis is making an urging plea to churches to get radical in rescuing the youth.
"There is a very serious reality that exists today with our youth that the Church cannot ignore. The devil is capturing them with enticements of all kinds, giving them the false belief that nothing about Christianity is real and that the Bible is one big fairytale," declared the pastor of Faith United Church of God International, on Mandela Terrace, Kingston 11.
"Unfortunately, the Church has to be partly blamed for this, because, to an extent, the Church has failed the youth by losing its relevance and purpose. The church has moved away from its God-given mission, and we have to get back to our real purpose."
He continued, "reclaiming the youth and steering them on a path of moral values and towards responsible leaders of tomorrow also means we have to play a critical role in restructuring the family."
Francis said it was important to recognise that during the adolescence phase, youths are most vulnerable because at that stage they are earnestly seek their own identity, as they prepare to cross that threshold into adulthood.
It is at that stage that their frustration, anger and rebellion against the parental system and structure, the church, society and anything they consider a strict, controlling regime, is at its heights. And evil regimes and enticements are giving them the outlet to vent all that pent up negative emotions.
"It is imperative that the Church step in as the moral compass and be their guiding force. We judge too much, and love too little and this has to stop if ever we are to save their lives and their souls. We need to be their friends, not their tormentors," he stated.
YOUTH EMPOWERMENT AND DEVELOPMENT
Francis said in addition to its spiritual role, his church, serving the innercity community of Mandela Terrace for more than 22 years, places strong emphasis on youth development and empowerment, values and attitudes, self-awareness and character building, and the need to be alert to current issues.
With a very strong youth ministry, Faith United Church of God hosts regular interactive sessions with young people on issues such as self esteem, sex education, career development, healthy lifestyle practices, becoming responsible men and women of tomorrow, fostering good parent/child relationship, among other topics.
Faith United also engages the youth in various fun-filled activities, including regular outings, sports day, games nights and an annual Christmas treat for scores of children in the community.
The church's youth group also has a very active sign language and praise dance ministry.
The young people also play an active role in Sunday church services.
"While the Church prepares the spiritual man, we cannot ignore the physical man," said the pastor.
"We are losing too many of our children and it is time to take the bull by the horn and rescue them. The family is the base of development of society, so when the family breaks down, so does society. Therefore, focusing on the family is a good place to start in restoring our youth."
He added: "At the end of the day when our job is done, they must be empowered and enlightened, ready to make a significant contribution to society."
President of the youth auxiliary, Christine Francis, has spent most of her life in the church youth ministry, engaging young people in programmes geared towards developing the whole man.
"Youth signifies freshness, vigour and exuberance, and the church demands all of that. At Faith United, our youths are our greatest asset and as such we endeavour to consistently mould and guide their energies in positive ways," she stated.
"It is important that the Church focus on the youth for several reasons: - youth ministry assists with the integration of the youths into the larger intergenerational community of the church; youth ministry focuses on inviting those who are not already a part of the church into the deeper narrative of God's plan for human kind; and youth ministry reminds the church that young people are not marginalised members of the body, but are co-creators in the divine mandate of the church."
Christine said at Faith United Church of God the youths have a voice, as they are encouraged to express their feelings and views on varying topics.
"Making them feel loved, appreciated and special makes a very big difference in their development," she said.
WE APPRECIATE IT
The approximately 50 young persons in the Faith United COG youth ministry, ranging from age three to 19 years, constantly express their gratitude for the positive impact the church is having on their lives.
"I feel that Faith United is doing an excellent job because there aren't many churches that have activities which interact with the youths. I love that we have fun, exciting events and discussions on issues that impact our lives," stated 19-year-old Monique Mullings, drummer for the church.
"Having an effective youth programme can be difficult but it is necessary because to keep the interest of the youth is a continuous act, and we must because the youths are the future."
Monique's fellow youth members concur with her.
"The legacy of the church must live on and the youth must be given a chance for a bright future, and we are getting that here," said Chester Francis, 15.
Nineteen-year-old Shian Davis added: "Faith United gives us the courage and motivation we need in order to have faith in ourselves to do and be whoever we want to be in the future."
"When the youths are in church they don't get caught up in the wrong things. The church helps them to be good youths," noted Surona Wallace, 15.
Faith United Church of God International
53 Mandela Terrace
6th Annual Convention
June 28-30, 2015
Theme: 'Empowering The Believers' - St Matthew 28 vs 16-20
SUNDAY, JUNE 28
11:00 am - Opening Service
4:30 pm - Seminar
7:00 pm - Gospel Service
MONDAY, JUNE 29
7:00 pm - Gospel Service
TUESDAY, JUNE 30
7:00 pm - Gospel Service