Youth Ministry in the 15th District Context
By Ms. Kesaleboga Mmusi, Guest Columnist
Youth ministries are meant to enhance the understanding of Christianity and to grow young people spiritually. Churches have tried this by recruiting youth in their denominations; but in many instances, keeping them in the church is not guaranteed. Keeping the youth in the church beyond their home-grounds is a common challenge in Africa. Due to youth moving to access better educational and employment opportunities, there is a risk of losing your activeness in the local church. Youth ministry needs to play a role in keeping the youth in the church.
There is a perception held by Africans—especially youth—that all forms of ministries indoctrinated by missionaries were meant to make Africans docile and to become obedient to the colonisers. The gospel ministry, when it was introduced in Africa, found Africans having their own relations with Christianity and God. Upon their arrival, the missionaries then regarded Indigenous African religion as barbaric. Some sort of inferiority complex was created and produced in the mind of the Indigenous people. The black subjects were then forced to learn the culture of the colonisers in the language of the colonisers. As an obvious fact, learning a foreign culture means losing one`s own culture.
Youth ministry in African context should be structured in a way which helps the youth of this continent to be mentally decolonised and unlearn all poisonous teachings of the Colonial masters. There are many issues which affect the lives of African youth which should be coupled with the Gospel teaching and the youth ministry. The following aspects are examples of the many issues which should now be committed in youth ministry, especially in Africa….
• Youth Ministry and Politics
Africa’s political state is different to the other continents when looking at democracy and upholding the rule of law. Africa suffers from a disease of leaders who would not want to relinquish power even though they have lost popularity. Tyranny, autocracy, and dictatorship are distinctive features in the so called constitutional democracy. Youth ministry should look for compatible texts in the Bible which discourages dictatorship, e.g., King Nebuchadnezzar. Youth ministry must speak about best ways to resolve differences, violence, and arms struggle which are going to destroy this world. Rebel movements such the Somali-Pirates and Boko-Haram should be discouraged in the ministry.
• Youth Ministry and Economics
Ministry of young people should liberate and empower youth economically. It should be borne in the minds of elders that young people are not as patient as them. The reality is that young people will not romanticise poverty. Therefore, text such as Matthew 25 of the parable of talents should be translated into how young people should invest their talents and monies so that it yields and generates interest for them.
• Youth Ministry and Character
The youth ministry should not only concentrate in preaching the gospel, they should also have that spirit of Charlotte Maxeke, humility, and selflessness in ensuring that the poor people—young and old—are well taken care of in their respective communities. In South Africa alone, 10% percent of young girls miss school due to lack of sanitary towels. It should be a mission of the youth ministry to come with all the mechanisms to try and eradicate such.
• Youth Ministry and Sexuality
Teachings youth about sex and sexuality is not a way of encouraging them to indulge in the activity. Rather, the ministry is meant to equip them on how best to safely approach it. Youth ministry should show the young people that sex is not a commodity and therefore cannot be traded with material resources of this world. It should encourage youth to stay pure but knowledgeable on sex and sexuality. No subject in life should be considered taboo. Maybe we should establish programmes called “Let’s talk about it.”
Ms. Kesaleboga Tshepang Peloentle Mmusi serves as the Young Adult Representative for the 15th Episcopal District Lay Organization