Youth For Jesus
YFJ in the Czech Republic
The ASI Youth for Jesus project is one of our best tools for involving young people in ministry in the Czech Republic. A few years ago, several young people from the Czech-Slovak Union of Seventh-day Adventists participated in the ASI Youth for Jesus program in Tampa, Florida. Two years later, a “baby” Youth for Jesus program was born in the Czech Republic, launched by those students who had attended the Tampa program. Since the summer of 2009, Youth for Jesus programs have been held for five consecutive summers in twelve cities across the Czech and Slovak unions.
What makes the Youth for Jesus program so unique? As a supporting lay-driven organization, we are learning to communicate with church administrators, involve local pastors and lay members, mobilize our youth, and spread the message to the communities we work in. Another unique aspect of the Youth for Jesus program is that, although it targets young people, it impacts people of all ages.
Our goals over the last five years have included encouraging local churches, getting our young people involved, spreading the message in local communities, and initiating personal revival among young people and local church members.
Last summer, nearly 100 youth were involved in two cities in Slovakia—Banska Bystrica and Zvolen. When church members saw the avalanche of energy, zeal, and excitement emanating from these programs, not only were they happy and blessed, but also challenged to take part and join in with the young people. They realized that they would need to carry on the work after the young people left.
The climax of each summer Youth For Jesus program is a series of evangelistic meetings featuring the youth as presenters. Hours of practice, time on their knees with the Lord, and final preparation set the stage for the opening night of each series. Anticipation is high, and you can tell how happy the young people are when they see someone attend whom they have met on the street or while knocking on doors. On that first night, many individuals are there to hear the message for the first time ever. It is the perfect opportunity to fervently pray once more for the Spirit to work.
One young presenter, Christina, shared with me that on the second night of the meetings she recognized a gentleman she had met a few days before in the city square during the Health Expo. She had talked with him and invited him to take a few minutes to visit the various stations. He had replied that he had no time to waste. Christina had given him a handout, and then he’d walked away. She kept watching him, and after a short hesitation he went to the registration table, picked up the materials, and went through all eight stops at the Health Expo, including the last one where volunteers were sharing their faith with the guests.
She was thrilled when he showed up for the evangelistic meetings, and was even more thrilled when he came back the second night and never missed a meeting. Even though he didn’t make a commitment and decision for baptism, Christina was very thankful to the Lord. We are thankful for the part that Youth for Jesus can play in allowing others to answer God’s call.
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).