We often hear people say “youth are our future.” In my younger days, I recall parents saying “learn all you can from your children before they turn 18 and forget everything like their parents.” Now, as a parent myself, I think some of those people might have had a good point. I learn A LOT from my daughters, so I can see the wisdom in saying “the youth are our future!” However, it’s false if you are talking about the church here in Paraguay.
In Paraguay, the youth are not our future. The youth are our present. The youth alone make up more than half the congregation of our churches. They don’t just fill a chair in the crowd. They serve in the church. Even some of our pastors would be what many of y’all would consider youth.
Most of these young Christian are first generation followers of Christ. Many don’t have parents who live out a Christian example in their lives. Their problem is not conviction of faith, it is how to live out their beliefs on a day-to-day basis. They believe in Jesus and want to know how that should direct their lives.
The youth down here in Paraguay are the life of the church and Angelica and I are grateful for the opportunity to help them apply their faith and for the opportunity to work along side them.
Really The Kids Are The Tough Ones To Hang-Out With
Angelica, Camila, and I just finished our annual Adolescence Camp for the National Church. For three days, we had kids together from all over the country. It is three days of noise, celebration, learning, praying, singing, playing, and very little sleep. Oh yeah, and also there are power outages and extreme heat. The kids are so intense that we bring in “pinch hitters” for various activities just so Angelica can rest a bit. When I need a break, I usually pull the father trick and say, “I need to take care of AnnaBelen.” If we are able to get more than three hours of sleep each night, we are lucky!
These camps are tough on us older people, but they are worth it! Each year the experience seems better. Each year the kids are touched more. Each year the kids leave feeling forgiven and enabled. Each year Angelica and I come closer to God through our time with these kids.
Now it is time to get ready for Youth Camp!
Mama Says “No!”
Whenever I travel to the Interior, AnnaBelen always wants to come. If she is not in school, with a little encouragement, I can get Angelica to agree.
Angelica is a little gun-shy because of the times I have broken down and spent the night in my truck. I can usually convince her by reminding her that I am like the Paraguayan MacGyver and can usually get us out after minimal inconveniences.
A few weeks ago, AnnaBelen and I were set to travel to the Interior with a pastor friend. He called at the last minute to ask if he could bring “someone he is working with.” When Angelica found out that the “someone” is a recovering drug addict who had been sober for only eight days, she yanked AnnaBelen from the trip. This was followed by one of AnnaBelen’s speeches about the “kind of people” that I was hanging-out with. “A missionary should care more about their children and not hang out with such people.” Despite hours of protest by AnnaBelen, I eventually agreed with Mama and went without AnnaBelen.
Now I am worried about what AnnaBelen might think about some of my college buddies.
Not all Paraguayans are graceful on the Futbol field!