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Ten-year Anniversary for Awakened Youth

By Esta,* RMM worker in the Middle East

UG has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. UG is an acronym for words that are usually translated in English as Youth for Christ, although the more literal translation is Awakened Youth. It started 10 years ago because one awakened youth, 19-year-old Jacob,* felt God was calling him to serve the youth of our city. He took his vision to the leaders of his church, thinking he was too young to do anything about it. They said they would support him, but he should do it. He started by sharing his vision with the leaders of the other churches and Christian organizations in the city. Five months later UG had its first youth meeting. It lasted six hours because, as Jacob explains, “We didn’t know what we were doing.”

For 10 years the Lord has blessed this vision. UG has spread to five other cities in the country and for nine months out of the year the monthly meetings continue to be packed with new generations of young people.

All youth, ages 15 to 35, from every church and home group are welcome. That includes those from historical churches, Protestant believers, and seekers.

Each meeting starts with a worship time, followed by a short play, then a sermon or panel presentation consisting of church leaders. A typical meeting now lasts an hour and a half followed by food and fellowship. The structure remains the same each month but the worship teams and speakers change each time. These meetings demonstrate unity and inter-church collaboration that the youth will hopefully emulate as the body of Christ. Given the history of Christianity in this small country, it’s hard to emphasize how important this is. The time spent worshipping and serving together now will determine the kind of church that will exist in the future.
For eight years UG had to meet in a borrowed space, which meant it had access to that space for a few hours once a month. Then two years ago, after years of prayer, the leadership committee stepped out in faith and rented the entire floor of a building with hope that a grant they applied for would come through. It did! This grant money covered the first year of rent. Meanwhile, the new UG space was rented out to local organizations for donations. Enough was earned to cover the rent for a second year, and on it goes. Having our own space means we can do so much more!

For the first two years of UG, instead of one speaker per night, there were two. But listening to two sermons back-to-back turned out not to be ideal. The theater ministry had been performing a number of dramas in the community at that point and Jacob made it known that he would love to have drama be a part of the regular monthly meetings. Two sermons became one sermon, followed by a play or dramatic reading. Youth with a desire to act and write plays have had the opportunity to use and grow in those gifts over the last eight years. Also, a regional television station has filmed the youth performing 21 of the plays for broadcast. And we have started a media branch of UG to film plays to share on social media. Each piece has a very clear message that can be taken away and immediately applied to a one’s growth and daily life.

“When we found the theater ministry, we knew that the Lord heard our prayers and answered us because this ministry can change people’s lives and draw people to God.”“We felt that we were being called to provide opportunities for young people to use their talents and gifts in serving the Lord and helping to bring his Kingdom,” said Jacob. “When we found the theater ministry we knew that the Lord heard our prayers and answered us because this ministry can change people’s lives and draw people to God.”

UG now provides mini workshops that bring together small groups of people and support them in practical and spiritual ways. These workshops include guitar and drum courses, English conversation clubs, prayer nights, Bible studies, and worship leader training, to name a few. Training the youth through workshops gives them a way to serve the church and their community. They are able to use the gifts God has given them and possibly awaken to God’s call on their life.

One of UG’s goals is to provide opportunities for young people to show God’s love to the community. This is a mercy ministry. At different times the youth visit the elderly in retirement homes, bring gifts to orphanages, and volunteer to support refugee organizations in the city.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” Hebrews 6:10

*Names changed for security