The youth are not only our future, but they are impacting the work of the church today. As we reflect on biblical history, many of the outstanding leaders in Israel were young adults. People such as Joseph, who distinguished himself in Egypt by standing firmly for his moral convictions and not accepting Potiphar’s wife’s invitation to commit adultery with her. He subsequently suffered imprisonment as a result of the lies she told her husband. He eventually became a ruler in Egypt. Another example is Esther, a young woman who became the queen of Medo-Persia, and risked her life for her people.
Jesus Christ, who was called to His ministry at the age of 30, is the supreme example. He took the form of man and lived a life of total faithfulness to His heavenly Father’s will. Jesus also called young men to be His disciples. They became apostles to the world, having been empowered to do so.
The world is at a stage where one of the driving forces of our society is technology. This has opened to the youth a world of possibilities. They are very proficient with current technology and social media, which provide a platform that allows them to be connected to the world of information. With an understanding of the Word of God, the writings of Ellen G. White, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, our youth can accomplish so much for the cause of God.
White declared, “With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world! How soon might the end come—the end of suffering and sorrow and sin! How soon, in place of a possession here, with its blight of sin and pain, our children might receive their inheritance where ‘the righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever,’ where ‘the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick,’ and ‘the voice of weeping shall be no more heard.’ ”—Education, p. 271.
Recently the Atlantic Union Conference Youth Ministries Department conducted an inspiring Evangelism and Leadership Congress with the objectives of training, equipping, and empowering youth for ministry involvement. David McKenzie, Atlantic Union Conference Youth Ministries director, and his dedicated team brought together more than 1,300 young people from across the Atlantic Union. Under the tutelage of leaders from our conferences, union, division, and General Conference, the objectives were met. It was a successful conference and the youth left inspired and ready to be used by God and their churches to further the mission of the church.
The adversary of our souls, the devil, has intensified his efforts to bring discouragement upon God’s church, particularly the youth. Let me encourage every young person to “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”—Ephesians 6:11-13, NKJV.
There is a place for our youth to be engaged in ministry in the church. May they be encouraged to find their rightful place in the work of God.
G. Earl Knight is president of the Atlantic Union Conference and chairman of the Atlantic Union College Board of Trustees.
This editorial first appeared in the April 2019 issue of The Atlantic Union Gleaner magazine, page 3.