Youth And Ambivalence
Growing up in a Christian family, I was exposed to the Christian faith early in life. Every Sunday, my mother would dress us in our Sunday best and we would all get into the car and head off to church.
I loved Sunday school, with all the singing and Bible stories and lessons learnt. It was very intriguing to hear week after week of how God closed the hungry lions mouths when Daniel was in the lions den, how God gave a sign to Gideon when he asked for it and how Queen Esther came to save her people. The Bible sure does have some cool stories!
The songs were great too. In those days (I am beginning to sound old now), we sang action songs like To Be Like Jesus, I Cast all my Cares, Hes Able and my favourite, Im inward, outward, upward, downward happy all the time.
I remember those days with great fondness. Not just because of the high jinks we got up to during and after Sunday school, but because when I heard all these stories of how good God was and how much He loved me, I truly felt loved. God was real to me. As I grew older, this awe of God I had slowly waned. I had heard the stories so many times that I guess I became numb to the greatness of God. Slowly, I began to get distracted with schoolwork, friends and extra-curricular activities, and God somehow became less important.
Thus came the years of ambivalence. I never completely strayed from God. I still went to church, prayed and went to Sunday school. When I read the Bible, I did not get excited. It was just a book. I remember being quite frustrated while I wanted to have a closer relationship with God, I didnt really know how, or want to put the effort into cultivating that relationship. I just wanted it to happen, well, magically.
At that time, my family had recently changed church and I started going to a new youth group. This youth group was different from the other youth groups I had belonged to. I found lots of like-minded friends and had a whale of a time forming strong friendships. What made this youth group different too was that while we had lots of time to fellowship, a lot of time was devoted to studying the Bible and going in-depth into the Word.
It was in these times of intense Bible study and teaching from my cell group leader that I began to understand afresh the Word of God. As a group, we bonded so intensely that as we shared our fears and joys in an atmosphere of brokenness and openness, we learnt how to love God and each other so much more.
My story is not a unique one. As a youth worker, I have seen countless youth who share a similar story. Our youth are looking for God. They crave to have a closer relationship with Him but struggle to see how God can be relevant in their daily lives. As a church, how can we help our youth encounter God afresh? How is the Bible relevant to everyday living?
Here is a chance to find out. Truthmin has setup the following workshops, Fulcrum (For Youth Workers) and Fundamentals (For LAY Youth Leaders). At these workshops, participants will be provided with handles on how to help our youth experience a real and living relationship with God. If you are a youth leader, youth worker, or have any interaction with youths in general, I would strongly encourage you to come to these workshops.
As mentioned previously, I had my days of ambivalence as a youth, struggling to want to know more of God but not knowing how. As I grew older, I realised that this state of ambivalence is not confined to youth only.
As adults, we are often quick to point out youth who are unmotivated or ambivalent, and we know that something needs to be done. However, we are not always willing to be that vessel of change for them. I would like to challenge you to step out of your zone of ambivalence and make a change in the lives of our youth today. Will you?
Annabel Ong is a full-time youth worker at Trinity Annual Conference Youth Ministries (TRUTHMIN).Â