Discipleship is a hot topic. As someone who works cross-culturally with Aboriginal youth, this is something that I am passionate about. I long to see my youth step into the fullness of who they are in Christ. I want them to not only live in that reality but to be a light in the darkest places of their own families and communities. But this is not something one can accomplish in a twelve-week program or with the coolest, most relevant youth curriculum.
In my ministry I try to take as many opportunities as I can to spend as much time as possible with my youth, listening, asking questions and learning about them. I want to see them have fun, struggle, ask questions and find answers. Most of all I want to live my life as a disciple of Jesus to the best of my ability. In all of these situations I also want my youth to see my struggle, victory and everyday life.
This means game nights, sleepovers, youth group outings, sharing circles, hours spent driving around in vans, coffee and long talks, Facebook messages, texts, phone calls and long drives to see them achieve their goals. I have known most of the youth I mentor and disciple since they were twelve to fourteen years old. Many are now seventeen to twenty years old. At the end of the day I don’t just want to have fun with them, and I don’t want to hand them a twelve-week program and then hope I’ve covered all the basics. I want them to see and know who they are in Christ. I want them to learn that foundational truth, and from that learn to really listen to God’s voice. Most of all, I want them to be real with those around them, to shine light where there is darkness, and if things are lousy and life gets hard, to see where their true foundation is. I want them to know that there are at least one or two other people in their lives that will love them no matter what, pray for them and be real with them.
A recent example of this was Legacy Youth Conference, held each year at Ambrose University in Calgary, AB. Last year we were gifted tickets to take six of our youth from the Eden Valley reserve, about an hour and fifteen-minute drive southwest of Calgary near Longview, AB. The youth all stayed at my house for the weekend, and each day we drove the hour-long round-trip to the conference. We did some fun things like checking out show homes in the fancy area around the school, and we went out for coffee at the nearby coffee place.
One memorable event was a sharing circle time. One of our volunteers attends Ambrose, so after we grabbed some smoothies and coffee we followed her to a special spot to do our sharing circle. At first the youth were quite shy to open up, but then one of the boys that had acted out the previous year at the conference spoke up and shared some of the struggles in his life and how he wanted to change. This changed the whole atmosphere of the circle. The other youth opened up a lot more and it ended up being a really positive time of sharing and praying together. Seeing the change in that specific youth over a year is such an encouragement. He went from being very closed off to prayer or sharing, to being very open about some real stuff happening in his life. I know that is because of Christ working in his life.
“Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: ‘God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.’” - Matthew 28:18-20 (The Message)