This summer my Youth in Mission teammates and I learned about ministry of presence. Ministry of presence doesn’t necessarily require doing anything. It's just being in a place where you are needed, as a support and encouragement to those around you.
This past summer I was one of 39 SNU students that spent 8 weeks with Youth in Mission. All of us on the team in Germany learned some important lessons, some of which were not easy to learn. Every one of us was task-oriented and wanted to see results from what we were doing, and for the majority of the summer our job was to plant seeds, to minister simply by being in Germany and helping out in the church in the smallest of ways.
We didn’t lead anyone to Christ. We didn’t witness any great miracles. We couldn’t even get the youth group to excitedly participate in praise and worship or devotions during their weekly meetings. We did, however, aim to live our lives in such a way as to shine Christ’s love to them through our everyday lives.
We gave support to Lisa, the youth leader who was at a loss as to how to reach the teens, most of whom are apathetic towards the gospel in a Godless society.
We ate ice cream and talked with Udo, a man who, though he is active in the church, has yet to accept Christ as his personal savior. We sang song after song after song with Tanja and Janina when they received the call that their mom was going to die -- because instead of feeling sorry and turning from the Lord, they wanted to praise His name and lift Him up even more.
We invited Ballo, a lonely middle-aged man living in the apartments next to the church, to church -- and he actually came once! Amen, that was amazing!
Jordan Wonderly, the token boy of our team, got two brief sentences to explain to the youth group boys why he did not shoplift. His answer -- "Because of Jesus” -- though short, was more than enough to keep the boys coming back to church during the summer. And we encouraged Doris, whose biggest dream is to live in America and work as a nanny for little children.
No, we did not see what some would consider big results this summer, but we learned that we are a small part of the bigger picture -- the process of God and His timing. We learned that God’s timing is different than ours. He employs some to till the soil, some to plant the seeds, and yet others come along later to water them.
We learned to be patient and watch God work, and not worry abut whether or not we were meeting our agenda and our expectations -- because God works in many different ways, at many times, and in many places. He transcends time, space, language barriers, generation gaps, and all sorts of other “barriers” that we have put in place. He doesn’t need us to get results and “work really hard.” He needs his children to be obedient and follow him -- and He will do the rest.
For more info on Youth in Mission opportunities in the summer of 2004, go to: http:/snu.edu/yim
Posted on Thu, September 18, 2003
by Sarah Cantley, ECHO guest writer