The youth group leading worship and praise
Our son, Matt, helping his dad serve communion
Elements of Thankfulness
That was the title of Nadia's beautiful message that she shared last week at the International Protestant Church of Kinshasa. Nadia is a high school senior and a member of our youth group. She has a real heart for the Lord.
One of my great joys over the past several years has been working with the youth group of the IPCK. It's an awesome thing to participate in a student's spiritual life and watch them grow in their faith in Christ. The group of young people we're working with not only loves the Lord, but also have a passion for serving Him and others.
One of our main objectives for the youth group is leadership development. We meet for Sunday School every week and focus on a different aspect of Christian Leadership, with Jesus, the Servant Leader, as our model. Our kids play a huge role in leading their own youth meetings, as well as participating in the church services. They're very excited about being part of what God is doing.
Last Sunday was Youth Sunday at IPCK, meaning that the members of the youth group were responsible for running the entire service, from the greeters at the door to the prayer of benediction. Personally, it's one of my favorite Sundays during the year. I love to see the students getting to use their talents in ministry to the church.
The theme they chose for the service this year was “Thankfulness”. We have a lot to be thankful for, especially this year. For a long time the youth group didn't have a place of their own to use for their meetings and worship, but at the beginning of this year, the church refurbished a large room in the Sunday School building solely for the purpose of youth ministry. The students were excited for a chance to show their gratitude and to share in a time of celebration with the rest of the church body.
The service went well. There's always so much energy when teenagers are involved. Each of the students did a great job. For Michael and me, it was especially sweet getting to see our son, Matt, help lead worship and also serve communion with his dad – the pastor.
Nadia's message really touched all of our hearts. She spoke from 1 Thessalonian 5:16-18 which says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Her point was that it's easy to be thankful in the good times, but it's when we learn to trust God enough to be thankful, even in the hardest times when we can't see or understand what's going on, that's when we have the greatest opportunity to grow in our faith and know true joy. She reminded us that our God keeps his promises and that he has the 'Big Picture' under control. That is why we can be thankful in all circumstances. I hope her message is as encouraging to you as it was for me.
Please keep the IPCK Youth Group in your prayers. We're getting ready for our annual retreat. We will be taking 40 kids and 10 adults to camp at Bombolomene Animal Reserve. It's a beautiful place, but you can imagine that logistically, it's a difficult task. Our facilities are very meager: no power or water, outhouses for bathrooms, etc. What we do have is lot's of hiking, swimming in the river, and campfires at night. We also have a great student worship band to lead worship, plenty of Bible Study, and a guest speaker who specializes in youth ministry to 3rd culture kids. We're so excited. Please pray that God would grant safety and protection to everyone, and even more importantly that He would impact the lives of these students in a huge way. Thanks.
Yours in Christ,