My Journey As A Youth Mentor At Central Christian Church
Updated: Aug 28, 2019
Kwong Wai Cheng
It is with immense gratitude that I realise I’ve been a youth mentor at the Central Christian Church for 20 years. I was a youth mentor before this current batch of youths was born!
In these long years, I have seen many youths pass through the Youth Ministry. Now many of them have grown up. Some are still in the faith, in the church, married with kids of their own, leading and serving in various capacities. Some have left the faith and church to pursue other dreams and goals… but one thing is for sure, I believe God is still with all of us, watching over our lives no matter where we are (physically and spiritually).
Just as our world (and the education system) is changing, our Youth Ministry has seen many changes too. With so many options and choices, expectations and demands, temptations and challenges, it is no surprise that our youths are often overwhelmed, distracted, confused and fatigued.
When I first came to the Youth Ministry 20 years ago, youths then were not the "study type". Most of them came from non-Christian backgrounds. Many faced fierce oppositions at home, and discouragements from teasing at school for the faith they professed. In those days, we did many foolish things too; feelings were hurt and we got into many conflicts with one another. Regrettably, some left; but those who remained got our faith refined, and our convictions in God deepened…
Fast forward to today. Our youths are much smarter in their studies. Most of them have parents who are Christians in the church or at least are more open to letting their children pursue their own religion. Our youths don’t face as much opposition from family and friends, and they also do not have many intense emotional conflicts with one another. Does this mean the Youth Ministry is better and healthier today?
Let’s not go down this road of unfair and superficial comparisons. Each generation has its own unique challenges and victories.
While youths today do not face as much opposition from family and friends, they have to deal with a lot of ‘noises’ (tonnes of information, media consumption, demands from school and family, many controversial world-views) that can confuse, distract and overwhelm our youths. Therefore, Christian youths today need to ponder and understand WHY they are doing the things they do, as they run after their own time with God and with one another.
Without the conflicts with one another, friendships can also easily become superficial, selective, and cold. In this age of social media and WhatsApp, youths need to re-learn how to communicate (talking face-to-face) and connect deeply with others. All these need special, deliberate efforts!
In the past, we mentors focused a lot on actions (the WHATS). Now we too need to repent and focus more on the heart (the WHYS). To be honest, it is much easier to deal with actions. My ministry is boring, let’s have more activities… But is this really the solution? God desires obedience over sacrifice (1 Sam15:22). God wants our hearts to be right with Him, more than what we do.
As a youth mentor, I find myself having to constantly go back to the Bible, to stop and reflect on what exactly God expects of the young; to question and clarify for myself, what is the true motivation behind the various things that we do in the Youth Ministry.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)
1 Timothy 4:12 has become a verse that has guided my journey as a youth mentor a lot.
The exhortations of Apostle Paul to young Timothy made it clear that youthfulness is NOT AN EXCUSE for sub-standards. Just because we have less life experience, does not mean we can behave badly, nor do we need to play second fiddle. In fact, Paul told Timothy to set an example for believers (believers of ALL AGES, even the mature adults) in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
God just wants us to give our best, regardless of age, and youths take the lead. Being a mentor also means I have to set the example first, and help my youths to do the same. Together, we need to set the example for real worship, from the heart. We must not become a graveyard of whitewash tombs (i.e., look good on the outside, but dead on the inside).
If I may, I would like to call on all Christian youths (and their parents) to set the example, whether you are a member of Central Christian Church or not… Let God shine through in your speech, behaviour, love, faith and purity. Let’s be a Timothy, and not a zombie in our Christian community.
Kwong Wai Cheng
Wai Cheng is fascinated with words, especially the Word. Her life has always been revolving around words/Word, in one way or another. And she hopes to always hold fast to the Word, to draw strength and gain wisdom, to do the right things in God's sight.