“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
“You know, in Botswana, if you’re young you’re wrong.” The green grass outside of the windows (themselves devoid of iron ‘burglar bars’), speckled with light filtered through the large leaves of shade trees, was a distant cry from the uniquely thorny and brown Botswana landscape that was to become home a few months hence.
Our new friend sat with us at the dining room table in my parents’ house in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario and gave us something to consider. He knew what he was talking about. Articulate, well-educated, possessing international degrees in the medical profession, he yet knew that as a young Motswana he would carry the reality of the difficulties of his youth with him when he headed back to Botswana the following year. And he was helping us to prepare for the same for when we would make the trek in the near future. As it would turn out, after arriving in Botswana we would find ourselves being drawn towards working with youth/young adults within the African Indigenous Churches which we knew would form the basis of our relationships and partnerships.
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As the months and years have passed, we’ve had the privilege of going through a number of Bible teaching modules with a few dozen of these young adults. For many, it’s been a way to discuss deeply the truth of scripture, to ask questions which have been weighing, and to realize that they’re not alone in their doubts, fears, hopes and understandings.
Some time ago, we received a cryptic instruction to be sure that we attended the upcoming Sunday service of the nearby Spiritual Healing Church branch. We dutifully complied, and as the service unfolded we found ourselves witnessing the ordination of a number of congregants, including 5 young adults from within our group of Bible students. The congregation sang as the elder pastor of the church walked between the kneeling young people, praying for each one and welcoming them into their new leadership roles.
After the service we congratulated the beaming group, and their similarly proud parents. “It’s a day of success that you should remember,” one of them stated. It’s not often that such young people are brought into positions of leadership, and it’s a testament not only to their example, but to the elders of the church for recognizing it and desiring that they should serve as witnesses for the benefit of others as well. As we were reminded that day, there’s a tradition of the anointing of the Holy Spirit on whomever He chooses, regardless of demographics. The older leaders at Spiritual Healing Church had responded, regardless of tradition, and had created an opportunity for their church, and for their up-and-coming leaders. Eager to learn the scriptures and energetic in their efforts to serve Jesus, these young people will be further studying, teaching, and living the message of the love of Jesus for many years to come.