Welcome to today’s edition of our current series, Real Life Youth Ministry! Each week we are sharing the story of someone doing Youth Ministry somewhere around the world. We all need encouragement in ministry at times. And sharing stories is one way we can encourage others on their journey. The Devil loves to bring discouragement, confusion, and make us feel like we’re not doing a good job or just aren’t good enough to be used by God. But the Bible says,
“And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.” –Revelation 12:11
That’s why it’s so important to share our stories! We have another bonus story this week, from Yo in the UK. He has been on staff part-time leading Youth for a few short months and is passionate about reaching non-Christians in his community. Yo has such an interesting story and it’s an honour to help him share it with you today. Welcome, Yo!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up in Youth Ministry.
I am originally from South Korea and grew up in quite a rural country town. I grew up in a strong religious family believing in Korean Shamanism and Buddhism. So for me it was natural to worship ancestors and buddha as god. As an elder son, I had to get much involved in these religious practices. I also grew up with the expectation that I must become successful as a representative of our whole clan (extended family). Because of that, it was normal for me to get driven by my dad’s ambition regardless of what I wanted to be or to do.
Thankfully, by God’s grace I was much involved in a local church where I met many loving people. My parents let me go to church as they were really busy with family business and had not much time to look after me and my siblings. People from the church looked after us well. Through church I got to know music- singing and playing instruments. I learned all sorts of instruments (keyboard, drum, guitar and bass guitar). Music became a big part of my teenage life.
At the same time I had been led astray by gang friends, getting away from school studies and away from home, until I met a Christian friend who was a great witness teaching me what a follower of Jesus must be like. Through his mentoring and God’s intervention, one day I got baptized by the Holy Spirit, and found out who I was through the cross of Jesus, and the grace and love of God. I was 16 years old.
Now, I am a part time worship leader at my church in the UK and ended up taking over the Youth Ministry too. The previous youth worker resigned in April. The church asked me to take over as I had already been leading and helping out with the Youth anyway. I also work one day a week as a chef at the local Korean restaurant which my friend owns.
What does a typical Youth night look like for you?
We meet at 5:30 on Friday nights for two hours. Our group is the age 5-11 year group. Before I took over the group it was more like social fun days- the Youth would pick an activity (i.e. craft, sports, video games) and do that for the night. Now we have a theme each month for our program, and organise games, talks, and crafts to go with the theme. We also have events occasionally, like parties, a movie night, or outdoor activities.
What is something your ministry does well and how did that come about?
I am not sure if I am doing well. What I can only say is that they seem to come back and enjoy themselves here. I want every child to feel home and family here. All activities and programmes or events start and get organised from that motivation. For instance, two weeks ago, we had an outdoor event. We went Snow Tubing which was the end of our monthly youth program, theme of Familyship. I had invited parents to come and join us and go Snow Tubing together. Great success! The youth seemed to get more connected to one another and parents seemed to enjoy it too. They really appreciated the event. It was all free, which was not normal considering such kinds of events are quite expensive (I may be kicked out by church one day, haha). But appreciation is all I wanted to have from them, winning their hearts.
What was your biggest challenge initially, and how did you overcome it?
It has been quite a joy to have built up relationship with parents and bring the parents on board to volunteer. I had been really struggling to get church members to volunteer. But this seems to be the way of God bringing people from outside. Most of the youth are not Christians and their parents aren’t either. That’s why I really appreciate parents’ willingness to volunteer. Also finding out parents’ talents gives me great opportunity to invite them to run some part of the program. Recently, we invited one mother to run a baking session. She was a super baker. The youth loved it and appreciated it. (Parents too, especially as they were taking a good amount of baking home, haha).
What keeps you going when you’re feeling frustrated, worn down, or just want a night off?
It may sound cliche, but truly, intercession and spending time with God in prayer keeps me going. Also I get great support from my wife. And I love each of the youth.
Every Tuesday I set aside time to pray for Youth. I set my iPad up to scroll through photos that we have taken at Youth, and as the individual faces come up I am focused on interceding for them. I can’t help but love each of them when I am praying for them like this.
Since you are a new youth leader, can you share what your dream is for your Youth Ministry?
As I shared above, most of our Youth are not christian. My dream is for them to find Jesus in life and serve Him as the Lord. The steps I am taking towards this are 1) building an authentic relationship both with youth and parents, 2) exploring the answers together about the issues they face, 3) inviting them to the Church, and 4) in the future to commission them and send them out to be leaders.
–Yo, Bagshot (UK)