A Generation Rising Up
In this conversation, K.P. Yohannan focuses on today's young people, their impact on society and how other generations can play a part in their lives.
QUESTION: What significance do young people play in today’s society?
There is so much potential in what God can do in and through the lives of this new generation. They are amazing at multitasking; they are continually connected with information globally; they are compassionate and have loving hearts; they are honest, open and very sincere.
This generation is ready to jump in and be the one to say, “I’ll make a difference!” And in some ways, they already are. They’re shaping and shifting the course of our tomorrow by the sheer magnitude of their presence and their ability to adapt and excel in their surroundings. They can offer some brilliant ideas in making the world better because they long to live lives of significance.
When so much of our world today seems to have lost the challenge of Christ to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Him, this new generation is craving something deep, something real, something to live and die for.
QUESTION: What qualifies a young person to serve the Lord?
When I think back to when I first began in ministry, I don’t think there was anything that qualified me to serve the Lord. I hardly knew any English; I was very young; and I came from a simple village life. I simply surrendered my life to the Lord.
At 16 years old, I joined a missionary training group and was transformed. Making the decision of surrendering my life to God, coupled with learning from godly brothers, has greatly impacted me, not only during the years that I served with them, but throughout the course of my whole life.
Today, young people are faced with this impossible challenge to measure up with those around them in education, knowledge, experience and talents. They have a mindset that they need to work hard enough to outdo everyone around them—and this has translated into their spiritual lives as well.
They think hard work and effort will qualify them. The Lord is looking instead for a humble, broken person who comes before Him and says, “Take it all. Here is my life, and I’m not holding anything back.”
I’ve known people serving the Lord who are highly educated and those who are not educated, those who are rich and those who are poor. None of it makes any difference. It is only when a person has prayed that simple prayer that God is finally able to put them on the journey of enabling them for His work.
QUESTION: How can older generations impact today’s young people?
When you ask believers, no matter the generation, what they want in their walk with God, they will say they want to grow deeper in their relationship with the Lord. If you ask them how they plan to carry that out, they will tell you about plans to read more chapters in the Bible, listen to more messages from godly teachers, listen to more worship music, etc. All those things are good, but they are not the end in themselves.
All of us grow the most by being with others who are ahead of us in this spiritual race. It is by being with them as they follow Christ that we learn to grow in spirituality. It is something that is more “caught” than learned.
The way in which older generations can impact the younger generations is by choosing to live our lives before them and letting them learn from us. Believe in them. Those of us who are older can tend to forget what it was like to be young and in need of direction. Rather than seeing the next generation as a project to be fixed, see them as a blessing.
Remember, Jesus didn’t see His disciples as projects. He sought to be a blessing to them. Over the course of three and a half years, His life impacted them so greatly they could not help but be changed. It is through investing in them through our own day-to-day lives that we can best encourage, mentor and show them the way of godliness.
QUESTION: What is Gospel for Asia doing to make this investment in this generation?
Gospel for Asia has a one-year internship for young people ages 18 to 27 called School of Discipleship. Students serve alongside our staff at our home office in Texas or at our extension campus in Canada. Daily, they are challenged to live their lives in community with Christ and others.
It is a unique place for young people to come together with others in following the Lord. Even though we have classes, exercise, structure, evangelism, worship and prayer, it’s the people that make the program.
Our staff members at Gospel for Asia are incredible. They have a passion for Jesus, and they serve because they love Him. They are focused on missions and have a passion to reach people in Asia. It’s in this environment that these young people can grow in the simplicity of God's grace.
Parents of School of Discipleship students also see this program as a springboard in helping their children grasp what it means to follow the Lord and understand biblical truths that will help them the rest of their lives. I believe if any young person has a desire to serve God or grow in the Lord, their parents should be their greatest encouragement and cheerleader! What an amazing work of God to see a young person’s heart stirred for God because of the influence of their parents.
School of Discipleship is a unique place for young people to come together with others in following the Lord. It’s a safe environment and a place that is biblically sound and challenges students to learn practical skills that will deepen their walk with the Lord. I would challenge all young people to pray about investing a year of their lives in the School of Discipleship. They will never be the same!
QUESTION: What is your hope for young people?
My dream for all upcoming generations is that they will recognize that the call of God upon their lives has been and always will be to deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow Him.
It will never be the latest and greatest books and messages that will deepen our walk with God. It will not be new methods or the things that are trending. It will be that which is solid, unchangeable and foundational: God’s Word and His call to die and live.
My prayer is that we will see God’s Word lived out in this young generation and that they will follow the Lord with all their heart and be willing to give up all for the sake of Christ’s name!
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