And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
To use the word ‘turbulent’ to describe the past few months would probably be an understatement. South Africa has been in lockdown for just over two months. Hope Church has had to adapt to a whole host of changes in order to reach and connect with people. Just as things may have felt pretty chaotic where you are, I’m sure you can imagine it has also been a similar experience for me here.
The youth ministry at Hope Church serves the teenagers and their families from a range of backgrounds. There have been so many questions to consider as the situation develops on a daily basis. It is an obvious point to make in an update like this but prayer is crucial! We work hard with gospel resolve but we do so in humble dependence on God, recognising that without him we won’t see any growth. If we’re not praying for the teens and their families, we’re getting things wrong. We love our youth and their families first by praying! So we’ve set up regular times of prayer with our leaders to help strengthen our leadership team as we pray for each other, for the teens and for their parents.
I’m eager that we as the youth leaders keep being trained so that we grow in our ability to connect with the teens and we can minister to them effectively. We’ve restarted our regular training evenings to encourage and help one another minister to the teenagers with the gospel. We had midweek bible study groups (called Pulse groups) before COVID struck. We decided to keep these going as closely as we could to what we had before so that the teens would still be in groups (even if virtually) where they already knew people – so that they could continue to build relationships with other teens and leaders even beyond lockdown.
A major barrier to meeting virtually is the lack of access to WiFi/ data. Many of our teens and parents don’t have WiFi and data is expensive. But praise the Lord, many people have been incredibly generous in offering financial support so that the teens and their families can stay connected. I’m encouraged by how some teens have been engaging with these groups during lockdown. I’m also encouraged by how many leaders have sacrificed their time and effort to connect with these young people and their parents. This is certainly something we can praise God for.
Alongside leading the youth ministry, I’ve also been involved in the media team and editing videos both for the Sunday services and for the kids/ youth. The workload felt pretty overwhelming at first but I’m glad to have settled into a much more manageable routine now. I’m grateful for the opportunities to keep busy and continue serving. I’ve been so blessed in many ways during this tricky time. God has been teaching me to depend on him more. I’ve been provided with food and shelter and there have been people on the property who have been a huge blessing.
Just over a month ago, we said a sad ‘goodbye’ to the Crosslinks gap year team who returned to the UK. It was so lovely to have them around and to have them serving on the youth team. The way that we are running ministry online has enabled the girls to remain involved with small groups and kids work which is great. They’ve been such a blessing to the church and to the youth ministry. Please do pray for them as they adjust to life back in the UK during these tricky times.
We press on with gospel resolve and in prayer, humbly depending on Christ! Even through the chaos and uncertainty of these times, Jesus is in control, his kingdom will grow and his purposes will come to pass.
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