Have you ever been fearful about the future of missions? Anxiously wondered if these next generations will carry on the vision God has so clearly given?
We all know those worries and fears need to be given over the Jesus, to acknowledge that the work is being done by the Holy Spirit and we aren’t in control. But sometimes it’s helpful to be encouraged in our doubts and questions. It helps us refute the lies of the enemy, and it allows us to participate in God’s work with this next generation through prayer and mentoring.
I serve as a missions coach with TEAM, where I have the wonderful privilege of getting to know students and young adults. My team and I are so excited about who these men and women are and how they approach engagement with missions! And today, I want to share a few of the missional traits we see in the next generation.
People may have their own biases against younger generations. But as a missions coach, I meet students all the time who show incredible commitment, grit and a single-minded vision in serving God. Bruce is a great example.
As a high schooler, Bruce* had dreams of engineering. But in high school, his youth group held an event for fasting and prayer for the poor and marginalized. During that time, God clearly called Bruce to put aside his personal ambitions, study agriculture and become a missionary.
At 21, Bruce contacted TEAM about serving mid-term, using agriculture as a platform for ministry. But we challenged him to pray about committing long term. And soon, Bruce was preparing for a long-term position!
In your late teens and early 20s, it’s easy to feel like you have endless time to figure out life. And it’s common to think that you should have your fun before settling into responsibilities. But I am often inspired by how intentional today’s students are with their time.
One of our mobilizers recently met a young couple while visiting national missionaries in South Asia. Hari and Priya have already committed to doing what they can to spread the Gospel in their country. They work with a local missions organization that focuses on university students, and they open their home to disciple believers and unbelievers alike.
Here in the States, young people are investing in God’s kingdom by working with refugees and immigrants, choosing to live in parts of town with unreached people groups, and engaging with non-English church plants. They are making choices to intentionally live missionally and it is having a great impact for the Kingdom!
Strategic and Discerning
Anna is a Spanish major with a passion for mentoring young people. So, she decided to spend her summer seeing if those things would combine well for long-term missions in Spain. This summer, she flew there, to help start a new summer camp at a local sports club.
Gabrielle hopes to serve as a long-term missionary in the Middle East. So, a few days after her high school graduation, she left to work at a refugee camp in Athens. She hoped the trip would give her clarity about her call. After the trip, Gabrielle plans to study linguistics in college before returning to the mission field.
Each of these women has clear gifts and passions. But they aren’t jumping headlong into ministry. Like many of their peers, they’re looking for the best fit on the mission field. And they’re serving short-term so they can better prepare for long-term service.
Pete and Joe both picked majors that could one day give them a good living. For Pete, it’s engineering, and Joe is studying agriculture. But neither one seems too interested in living the American dream. Instead, they’re looking for ways to holistically serve the body of Christ.
It’s inspiring to see talented young people use their skills for ministry — especially when those skills are in rare supply. But this generation is full of Christians ready to do so.
In case it’s not abundantly clear by this point, this generation is passionate and confident about walking through the doors God opens to them. Let me share just one more example: Jane and Mike.
These young adults took a Perspectives on World Missions class and decided to research an Indian subgroup with a large population in their area. Now, they’re realizing they have a lot of friends and connections from this unreached subgroup. But they didn’t want to keep their mission to themselves — so they encouraged their church to engage in reaching this group, too.
Jane and Mike are young, but they are using their passion to influence an older church to think outside the box and engage this people group right on their doorstep.
A Generation Ready for Missions
There are so many other traits I could share about today’s students — like their teachability and willingness to engage those who think differently without fear.
There is no doubt in my mind that many in the younger generations are willing to boldly and passionately live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ and dedicate their lives to see His reign established in the hearts of all peoples! Ask some students and young adults at your church about missions and their hearts for the nations. I hope you will find what we have and be encouraged.
*All names have been changed to protect students’ privacy.