‘All my assistants become youth workers when they go back to their countries,’ Martin, my supervisor in the UK, told me one time. No, hang on a second. Let me correct that. It did not only happen once; he told me that on numerous occasions. It was as though he was saying to me ‘You will become one as well’ without actually spelling it out. In return, I always told myself with conviction ‘I AM NOT GOING TO BE A YOUTH WORKER.’
Yes, you read that right. I did not want to become a full-pledged youth worker. That was because after going through the Condensed World Missions Course in the MaxEx trip of Conservative Baptist Association of the Philippines in 2005, I started painting a picture of myself becoming involved in frontier missions as an equipper or mobiliser. Also, I majored in Missions when I took up my bachelor’s degree, for crying out loud. In short, I was quite adamant that I would be going into a ministry that would take me to unreached territories where only a few dared to go.
But I was dead wrong. I thought I already had myself figured out. Apparently, I was not quite there in having my personal vision sorted. I believed I was going to take on a missionary hat. But it did not seem to be the path I was to take exactly. Even my thinking behind all of it was defective. Let me tell you why.
When I told myself that I did not want to become a youth worker because I would like to become a missionary instead, I was making erroneous judgements on the nature of those two branches of Christian ministry. My underlying impression of them implied loads of concepts that were potentially stifling to me as I sought full-time Christian work: 1) I could only be either one or the other – a youth worker OR a missionary, 2) there was just one type of missions, and that was reaching the unreached, and 3) I would be fulfilling the Great Commission solely if I was sending or being sent to the least evangelised peoples.
IT TOOK ME ALMOST TWO YEARS OF BEING AWAY FROM MY DISCIPLERS/MENTORS, packed with rebukes from and casual talks with my international friends, meetings with my supervisor at St Peter’s and with the Careforce director, Youth ministry books and seminars, a personal review of the Kairos course and my life’s timeline, and countless nights of wrestling with God TO REALISE THAT THERE WAS 99% CHANCE THAT MY PERSPECTIVE REGARDING THOSE AREAS OF CHRISTIAN MINISTRY WAS NOT WITHOUT FAULT.
Those things helped me to figure out that youth work would not take me off the course of world missions. In truth, it was quite the contrary. Youth work would put me in the most effective position to disciple the next generation who would later on become missionaries (So, that was my dream of equipping or mobilising would-be missionaries right there). Also, those things that happened while I was serving in Farnborough ushered me into a new way of looking at missions. Since my stay in England, I began to see that there could not be merely one way to be involved in God’s worldwide agenda. My eyes were opened to witness that God called people into different ministries, all of which contributed to making the gospel reach the ends of the earth.
Settling back here in the Philippines beginning the end of August 2009, I gradually gained the confidence to share my personal decision concerning the journey that I was about to embark on – that of becoming a youth worker. I mentioned ‘gradually’ because being able to communicate these reflections of mine was not as easy as a snap of finger. Of course, I needed to take a bit more time and exposure. That is why ever since I got back here in my beloved country, I have been immersing myself into the world of the young generation as much as I could. I would be found doing anything from Sunday Christian Education(1) to After Class Getaway(2) to teaching VOICE(3) to speaking at HYPE(4) and Chill(5) to nurturing my Circle-of-Care(6) and other Youth@111 activities. I would also be caught in different training opportunities like Youth@111 Core and Ministry Team meetings, Coaching Moments(7) and Wavemakers seminars including those coordinated by them (8). I even started chatting with my nephews and nieces more, all of whom are in high school and intermediate level.
(1. Sunday School for high school and college students, 2. outreach activity for students of San Francisco High School, 3. Values Orientation in Classroom Education, 4. fellowship for High School students, 5. fellowship for college students, 6. disciplemaking group, 7. shepherds’ monthly meeting and evaluation, 8. Movement Building seminar, APHC and Live 2:6)
Among all these experiences in this stage of my journey as a youth worker, the recent ASIA PACIFIC HEALTHY CHURCHES CONFERENCE (APHC) in Malaysia and Singapore, followed through by the LIVE 2:6 CONFERENCE at the New Tribes Missions Headquarters in Manila, was MY ZENITH. First, it made me appreciate the beauty of Jesus Christ being the unifying Person of the Bible all the more. His life and work provided me with the impetus for disciple-making. I could never have been more sold out to the fact that His model was the way to fulfilling His Everyday Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Second, it caused me to want to know Christ deeper. If I were to pursue Christlikeness and so make disciples among youngsters, I had to understand more about the Master disciple-maker in order that I would be able to follow His footsteps closely. Lastly, it confirmed in me once again that God custom-made everything about me for youth ministry – my background, training, experiences, gifts, heart and personality.
I remember writing down in one of my articles for the book Young Women on the Journey (p.141, ©2007): ‘I have yet to experience more of the exciting journey ahead, to go to places where my kairos encounter would bring me, to take part in God’s masterplan.’ It is now 2010 and I am currently in the first phases of that exciting journey I foresaw. I might not have known where I was headed to back then when I wrote it but at this point I believe I do. I AM GOING TO BE A YOUTH WORKER and I am bringing my missionary sandals along with me.
27 March 2010
Included in Youth@111 Newsletter, March 2010