With Such an Army
The youth of our church are critical to the Adventist mission, a fact highlighted in Ellen G. White's familiar words. "With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish," she wrote, "how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Savior might be carried to the whole world" Education, 271. Has our Lord delayed His return because we have failed to train this youthful army or to fully deploy these energetic troops with adequate power and responsibility? Have we given them practical hands-on experience on the front lines of mission? Are we integrating their energy, enthusiasm and creative ideas into the life of the church? Have we mentored them in prayer, shown how to give Bible studies and boldly witness for the Lord Jesus Christ?
We will not accomplish our God-given task without an army of "rightly trained" youth and young adults. The "older" generation must provide counsel and encouragement but also release and empower the "younger" generation to eagerly engage with what God has called both young and old to do—take "the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Savior…to the whole world!"
We have focused large amounts of resources on youth in the Northwest. This is a good thing. I am grateful for the ministries of Walla Walla University and our extensive Adventist K-12 system. The life-changing Youth for Jesus program featured in this issue is an exciting development. Every year hundreds of young people meet Jesus while spending a week at one of our many summer camps. Praise God for these blessings. However, we can and must do more to sharpen the focus on equipping youth and young adults for active participation in God's army.
Youth of the Northwest, take counsel from 1 Timothy 4. "Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity...keep a close watch on yourself and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right, and God will save you and those who hear you." And the Apostle Paul continues in his inspired counsel to the youthful Timothy, "Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as though he were your own father. Talk to the younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat the older women as you would your mother, and treat the younger women with all purity as your own sisters" (1 Timothy 4:12-16, 5:1, 2).
Sounds like a family, doesn't it? God's family! A place where every individual is loved, appreciated and needed, each person using their unique spiritual gifts to fulfill the gospel commission, young and old working side by side with Holy Spirit power to "finish the work." The young learn from the wisdom and experience of the old and the old gain from the enthusiasm and creativity of the young.
And, working together, we will accomplish much more than any of us can alone.