A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to represent World Renew at Jubilee, a Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) conference in Pittsburgh. My coworker, Amanda Bakale, and I stood at our World Renew table to spread the word about World Renew, its volunteer opportunities and its mission. We were delighted to meet several passionate, warm, motivated people who were eager to learn about the work of World Renew. These were people majoring in public health, social work, and communications, developing skills that are so very needed in missions and development.
I think it’s easy to write off young people and their influence in any field, but especially missions. Let’s be real, young people are not big donors. We aren’t the ones writing the books or signing the checks. The people that Amanda and I met at Jubilee were not making donations or committing to bringing word of us to the big names at their churches, they were listening and pondering.
The influence of youth in missions and development is often overlooked. But even though we aren’t making donations or writing books, young people like myself are doing plenty of other big things.
We’re deciding what to do with the rest of our lives.
We’re reading almost nonstop.
We’re taking classes taught by brilliant, experienced men and women on theology and the philosophy and practice of missions.
We’re voting and we’re advocating.
We’re living on college campuses where we have opportunities to listen to countless speakers and get our ideas out to our peers.
We have breaks and summer-long chunks of time to seek out unique and diverse opportunities.
We’re looking for real-live, sustainable ways to apply what we’re learning in the classroom to the lives of people.
We’re often single, we’re not obligated anywhere, and we’re at the prime stage of our lives to take a job in a foreign place with irregular hours and challenging tasks.
In our efforts to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly, we must not forget the influence of young people. As a young adult, I am looking for people who will value my efforts and my passions, and not just my (shabby) bank account. I am ecstatic that my generation is learning more about international development as a thriving, blessed, and excelling practice, instead of merely a new notion. I am thrilled that we’re thinking about how we can communicate the love and truth of the gospel in everything that we do, integrating a mission’s perspective into our daily lives. It is imperative that we are educating and investing in young people, because we’re the ones who will, Lord willing, carry on the call into the next generation.