Even in these days of relative difficulty for evangelical churches in the UK, young people in our nation are still hearing God calling them to engage in mission work; and it is still the church’s privilege to educate, train and support them as they obey him.
Christians have always been missionaries in one form or another, ever since the Lord Jesus Christ first gave the command to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’.
That said, 2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year for mission, with hundreds of young Christians showing their commitment to the command in Matthew 28:18-20.
Many global mission organisations approached by Evangelical Times have already seen young people sign up, either for a short-term mission, such as a gap year placement, or to train for full-time mission work during this year.
Grant Haynes, spokesman for Global Frontier Missions (GFM), said his organisation has had 300 young people ask to get involved in mission work in 2015.
Release International, an advocacy group that supports the persecuted church, so far has seen 11 young people show an interest for missions and two have confirmed to go on a mission trip later this year.
Lyanna Austin, team leader for Release, said, ‘Our mission field is all around us. We always encourage young people to be missional minded in their own community’.
There is much that young people can do, and plenty of places where they can learn how to do mission work. GFM’s Haynes says, ‘We host short-term mission trips and summer internships to encourage young people to get involved in missions’.
Many organisations need full-time workers in the field. For example, London City Mission has been actively recruiting city missionaries for 2015, particularly to reach ministry areas such as the elderly, ethnic groups, vulnerable women and prisoners.
To help young people understand how they can be used and where, whether short-term or permanently, Release has produced resources called ‘Change-maker, Big Challenges’. These help young people take on a variety of ministries and activities.
Young people do not have to be highly skilled or trained in a profession, such as teaching or nursing, to go. All they need, Haynes says, is a desire to share the gospel with others.
He said, ‘The sort of work they can do is to build relationships, share their faith, gather demographic information, do children’s ministry, run summer camps or teach English as a second language’.
Young people can also get good training, either on courses or through conferences. For example, European Miss
ionary Fellowship (EMF) runs an excellent six-month School of Biblical Studies course at its Welwyn headquarters, for people aged 20 and over. It has also set up a weekend residential conference in July, for young people aged 18 and over who have a heart for mission.
EMF director Martin Leech says, ‘Young people should be willing to try something. They could read about it, get involved with their home church or apply to go on a course. Although we do not have short-term opportunities, we can help individuals find placements’.
David and Maribel Easton lead the young people’s work at Thornton Heath Evangelical Church (THEC). Both attended
the EMF School of Biblical Studies in 2014 and have recommended it to other young people.
Easton, one of the youngest deacons THEC has had, said, ‘The School is for anyone who wants to grow spiritually in their walk with God, and receive intense training to be able to minister in your church.
‘I went to EMF because I felt God’s calling on my life to go into full-time ministry and wanted to get an excellent grasp on the Bible. The course gave me so much knowledge and much practical experience. I highly recommend it’.