INVOLVING YOUTH IN EVANGELISM
By: Mark Christian
Startling revelations concerning America’s values and views can be seen to some degree in the book, What Americans Believe, by author, pollster, and researcher, George Barna. Statistical data concerning people living in the final decade of the 20th Century reflect very staggering ideas.
When asked, “Do you agree strongly, agree somewhat, disagree somewhat, or disagree strongly with the following statement: There is no such thing as absolute truth; different people can define truth in onflicting ways and still be correct,” George Barna found that only 28% of the respondents expressed strong belief in absolute truth. Even more impacting is the data showing only 23% of people who describe themselves as being “born-again” Christians went on record as saying that anything could be known for certain.
The statistics reveal how important it is for the youth of the United Pentecostal Church International to take a strong stand for truth. We need to echo the words of the apostle Paul in II Timothy 1:12: “Nevertheless, I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he
is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”
In a world horribly snared by the fallacies of a philosophy that dictates a lifestyle void of responsibility and given to short-lived pleasures, the General Youth Division finds itself challenged and committed to an effort to impact this world with the gospel. Youth deserve to know more than what is written on one popular T-shirt inscription seen on campuses today: “Life is a beach and then you die!” With such a philosophy, it is no wonder that many young people find themselves hooked on drugs, sex, and other forms of instant gratification. They are victims to a worldview that destroys the body, mind, and soul.
I am glad that the shaky, uncommitted, futile lifestyle advocated by the world has not taken hold everywhere. Youth in the United Pentecostal Church International have found a deeper and richer understanding of life in Jesus Christ. They have discovered that life has meaning in this world and in
life beyond death. Life is not a futile existence of meaningless events, but it is “righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17) and life everlasting.
Youth in the United Pentecostal Church International are actively sharing their salvation experience through evangelism, and they are themselves growing in spiritual maturity as they do the work of God! Below are several areas in which youth can be involved to bring the gospel to their generation.
Youth Bible Study
Brother Jim Booker, District Youth President in Wisconsin, told at this past General Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, how the youth of Wisconsin are giving themselves to the challenge of reaching the unsaved through teaching the youth Bible study, “The Life and Times of Jesus Christ.” After he returned from a youth camp in Manitoba, he presented a challenge to two hundred young people at the Winter Youth Convention in December 1989. At the close of the convention, ninety young people from the
state of Wisconsin committed themselves to teach the Bible study to one of their friends. He said, “As a result of that meeting we now have young people all through the state teaching Bible studies.”
Brother Booker than related some examples of what happened. Matt Anderson taught two of his friends and both received the Holy Ghost and were baptized in Jesus’ name. LaRita Soto from Clintonville taught Jamie Whitman, and she received the Holy Ghost. Aaron Soto witnessed to Adam Mundinak in May of 1990, and Adam received the Holy Ghost and was baptized. Both Aaron and Adam are now first-year students at Indiana Bible College. In the last year, seven students from the Clintonville High School have
been filled with the Holy Ghost. Tim Waser taught his friend, Jim Castonia, “The Life and Times of Jesus Christ,” and Jim was baptized and received the Holy Ghost. Jim testified, “I used to be a rock head, but now I’m living for Jesus Christ. The happiest day of my life was when Tim brought me to church and told me about Jesus.” Many other youth are teaching Bible studies in Wisconsin, and they are also winning their friends to Jesus Christ.
The story in Wisconsin is being repeated in many other districts in our fellowship. Brother Kenny Godair, District Youth President in North Carolina, tells that a young lady in the church he pastors returned from
the National Youth Congress in Kansas City, Missouri, with a tremendous desire to witness to her friends. She consequently taught “The Life and Times of Jesus Christ” to one of her friends, who has now been baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost!
Few endeavors have impacted the lives of Pentecostal Youth and challenged them to spiritual growth and maturity like Bible Quizzing.
Brother Marvin Walker, North American quizmaster, describes some of the excitement involved in quizzing. “Of sixty-three teams originally registered for the 1991 North American Bible Quiz Tournament, fifty-nine converged upon the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana, for the largest NABQT in history from October 7-11…. After an intensely exciting week of excellent quizzing in both sessions, the final quiz was held in the White River Ballroom between last year’s runner-up team from Cincinnati, Ohio
(Norman R. Paslay I, pastor), and the team from Moss Bluff, Louisiana (Arthur Hodges, Jr., pastor). The same two teams had met in the final of Round I earlier in the week. Each time Cincinnati won a close quiz to go undefeated in becoming the 1991 North American champions!
“The third place team for ’91 was Indiana III from Edinburgh, Indiana (Mark Meyers, pastor) a team that qualified for the NABQT through placing third in their own district after winning the new Division II title at the North-central Extravaganza earlier in the year. These tie-eating, tape-chewing, cardiac kids” just kept on winning and winning – ignoring the fact that they were at the NABQT for the first time, and only in their second year as a team.
“Some youth were overheard to comment that the 1991 NABQT was the best and smoothest ever. The presence of God was abundant, especially in our “prayer and share” hour when we heard the soul-stirring testimonies from quizzers in their last year of eligibility. They had us laughing, crying, then deeply reflecting on the long-range powerful effects of Bible Quizzing ministry upon the lives of so many Pentecostal teens.”
Summer Missions Teams
When the most recent International Youth Summer Missions Team arrived in Manaus, Brazil, we found ourselves in the heart of the Amazon rain forest, perhaps the most perfect climate for growth in the world. We soon discovered that God could grow more than just trees and plant life, for here on the banks of the two largest rivers in the world a powerful church is growing and thriving as well.
No words can adequately tell the incredible impact of the precious people in Brazil on the Summer Missions Team group. Night after night in Manaus, four to five thousand Brazilian youth filled the arena in the downtown area. They poured in with praise and worship and faith. Waves of worship roared and rolled across the vast congregation.
The following expressions of some of the participants will bring a sense of the overwhelming display of God’s power and the devotion of these beautiful Brazilian people. Cheryl King of Gadsden, Alabama: “My life has been changed forever. I cannot let one day go by without reaching out to touch someone’s life. This is an experience I will never forget! Thank you, General Youth Division, for offering Summer Missions Teams.” Candy Thorton of Lake Charles, Louisiana: “This trip has changed my life completely.” Myron Powell of St. Louis, Missouri: “God has given me direction for my life. I’ve been blessed to see the great work of God in Brazil. I would love to go on Summer Missions again.”
Summer Missions Teams not only touch the work of God on an international front but they also make an impact on home missions churches in North America as well. Just a few months ago the participants of the domestic Summer Missions Teams returned to World Evangelism Center expressing their tremendous sense of spiritual accomplishment. I felt the power of the Holy Ghost as they began to share the moving testimonies of how God touched the lives of people in a home missions setting.
Melody Walker of Allison, Texas, told about a lady among the hundreds to whom she and her team partner distributed tracts during their time of service. The lady did not show a great interest at that time, but the next Sunday morning, two hours before service was scheduled to start, she was sitting in the church auditorium. When they greeted her, she showed them the by-then-crumpled flyer she had folded and clutched tightly in her hands. She said, “I really need God’s help in my life. I hope it’s all right for me to be here now. I just couldn’t wait to come to church!”
Campus Ministry International
Recently the General Youth Division with the assistance of Brother J. Mark Jordan, National Campus Ministry Coordinator, compiled a notebook entitled, “How to Start a Campus Ministry.” Brother Robert Bentley, Brother Greg Books, as well as Brother David Kuhtenia contributed to this valuable manual that contains a wealth of information about ministering at college and university campuses.
The impact of Campus Ministry International continues to grow as greater numbers of people involve themselves in this important field of evangelism. Information on how to become involved in this ministry is available from the General Youth Division.
Many avenues of evangelism now stand available to young people. Surely God would be pleased for every young person to be involved in evangelism. I am reminded, in conclusion, of the last service at the National Youth Congress in Kansas City, when almost nine hundred young people signed a commitment to be involved in areas of evangelism. Revival will surely spread among Pentecostal youth as Bible studies are taught, Summer Missions Teams are assembled, college and high school campuses are reached, and young people come together in prayer and fasting.
The General Youth Division stands ready to assist youth in their endeavors to win their generation to the Lord Jesus.
(The above material appeared in the March, 1992 issue of Pentecostal Herald.)
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