I don’t make it a habit to quote Tupac, but his lyric “me against the world” perfectly captures how it can feel to be a youth leader. In the day-to-day efforts of trying to advance the Gospel among teenagers, it’s easy to feel as if everything is stacked against you and you’re losing ground instead of gaining it.
The prophet Elijah felt the same way when Queen Jezebel was trying to murder him. He complained to God that the Israelites had killed all the prophets and torn down all the altars. Then he says: “I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too” (1 Kings 19:10).
God replies—and I paraphrase: Um, actually, there are 7,000 others in Israel who still serve me, thank you very much (1 Kings 19:18).
In the same way, you are not alone. You’re part of a growing movement of youth leaders—thousands and thousands of them around the planet—who are strategizing, striving, and slowly but surely succeeding in making disciples who in turn make disciples.
Evidence of this truth abounds in the newly updated version of Greg Stier’s Gospelize Your Youth Ministry. Leaders from all over the world share stories of what advancing the Gospel looks like in their context—and how it’s changing their communities.
Bold Moves in Africa
Take Stephen Bahago of Nigeria, for example. Stephen lives in a region of Nigeria where many Christians experience severe persecution. Despite this, Stephen has spent years faithfully teaching students to share the Gospel and then taking them out in their communities to put their training into practice, despite the great risk involved. This has led to great growth, both numerical (for instance, one group grew from 12 to 160 in four years, mostly from new believers) and spiritual, as students’ faith deepens from the challenge of sharing the Gospel.
A Surprising Spark in Europe
In Spain, leader Maicon Custódio has adopted a bold vision of seeing every young person in the nation reached with the Gospel. He tells about the excitement of some Spanish teenagers, after they shared about Jesus with other young people out on the street and then, to their amazement, led them to Christ on the spot—defying all cultural norms. This was so inspiring to all the students who were sharing the Gospel that day that 19 of them committed to make faith-sharing a lifestyle, not just a one-time event.
Effective Teamwork in the U.S.
God is on the move in the United States, as well. Youth pastor Nathan Smith of Roswell, New Mexico, describes how his efforts to build a network of youth leaders in his town are paying off, as groups are banding together to share the Good News with the community’s students. The result has been hundreds of Gospel conversations among teens and many new disciples joining the area’s youth groups.
As a believer, you can be sure that it’s never just you against the world, because God promises to always be with you. But it can also help to know that leaders like you all across the globe are seeing fruit as they persevere in advancing the Gospel in and through their students. So keep on keepin’ on! As you do, your stories will in turn encourage others in the fight.