Our annual Young People’s Ministry (YPM) lead service takes place on the first Sunday of our Patronal Week. This year, we had our Senior Youth doing the Welcome, the Sunday School leading our Praise and Worship, our third-year confirmands doing the Confession, and our C1 candidates and leaders doing the readings and prayers.
Two members of our newly established Young Adults Ministry testified to the congregation about how this ministry has changed their lives. This is what they had to say:
Lesleigh-Ann William’s Testimony:
What has young adults done for me?
We all felt that there was a gap with regards to our young people, you know, after you turn 18. Personally speaking, I feel this is the time when life gets hectic, when all the important life choices and decisions are made (no one warns you about this), when you are expected to be all grown up. No, we don’t like to adult by the way, it’s hard and stressful because we all have these expectations that the older generation put on us. Oh, and God forbid we make a mistake! Also to be judged continually because of one bad decision you’ve made (nevermind all the good ones) by everyone, including the church, hurts. This is supposed to feel like home, the place we come to when we need help. Instead, we don’t feel comfortable, we feel judged. Do you know what the Bible says about that? Read Romans 2 vs 1-3.
“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?” – Romans 2: 1-3, NIV
So, a few of us who felt the same way decided that this needs to come to an end. We want our young people to come home, or have a place where they can come to. Creating a safe, welcoming, judgement-free environment where we can get together, laugh, eat, pray, cry, play, be ourselves, support each other, learn, ask questions and give advice. Just creating an open space where God and life is our main focus.
A space to be with my peers, not perfect, but peers who are as hungry as I am to learn, to share in His glory and grace, to be open about our faith and to share how He has really impacted my life.
Creating a space where young adults can come to build relationships with people who share our faith. This is vital if you want to grow as a Christian and be able to fellowship, not only at church every Sunday, but everyday.
Young Adults is a breath of fresh air, an escape, a warm cozy feeling, a family were we can be ourselves for God, where we can gather and gain his strength to carry on with everything in everyday life, to turn the other cheek on all the bad times and things going on in our lives all around us, all over the world, and focus on Him.
This is a poem I wrote during one of our sessions:
Who am I without You
A shell, a smile ,a person like us all
We can all be the same, DNA, genes may make us different but we are all still the same.
But still, who am I without You .
I am here , sometimes I feel like I’m far away .
Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong (most of the time)
Sometimes I feel like a failure,
But then I think of You,and how You hold me dear.
Who am I without You
Because You died for me ,
I am here ,
who I am is because of You .
I am a daughter, a sister, a mother, a wife (yes I am married), a friend, a cousin, a person. Your light in me is the only reason I can be who I am and all of the above.
The only reason why I am still here .
My rock, always the one thing I can hold onto when I feel like I’m drowning.
I am nothing without You, everything I am, everything I do, is because of You .
I can do anything for it’s You who gives me strength, to live, to breathe to live…
Guiding me through everything no matter what may come ,and if I don’t know or I’m stuck or I failed, I know that everything is in Your timing, it’s all You and it’s all for You
Because I am because of You .
Now I ask you, young beautiful soul (reading this), are you ready to turn your cheek on all the judgments and hardships you have faced?
If you are ready, please don’t hesitate to join us. We look forward to seeing you at our next session .
Caryn Welby-Solomon’s Testimony:
As many of you know, I am a child of the church. Born, baptised, attended Sunday School, got confirmed, etc. For me, St. Cyprians has taught me most of what I know when it comes to church, and over the years I have come to appreciate the role that it has played in my life.
When I was in confirmation, someone in senior leadership remarked that I will never grow socially in this church, because I expressed my unhappiness with the way I was being taught. For a 15-year-old, this is an extremely definite statement that anyone can speak over your life, and I was shook. I was already extremely shy, awkward, and because I didn’t go to school with anyone else in my confirmation year, already feeling kind of left out. It took a lot for me to speak up at that point and I didn’t see it as the end of my social life in the church. I saw it more as the first time I really spoke up for what I believed in. However, this person’s comments struck me deep, and I was convinced that I wasn’t liked by others in the church afterwards. So, I laid low, I didn’t really get involved in church activities and I visited other churches. Until I was in matric and was asked to become a youth leader.
This seems like an easy decision to make, but I’m an overthinker who doesn’t commit to something lightly. If I say I’m going to do something, I like to put my all in. So, deciding to be a youth leader was something that I had to sit with for a long time. I prayed about it and I asked God to show me if staying at St. Cyprian’s was truly the path for me because if I committed to being a youth leader, I would have to commit to St. Cyps, naysayers included. It also meant that I would have to live a lifestyle which was completely separate to my friends, to my classmates, to what was normal for people my age. It was a lot to ask of a 17-year-old, and I remember approaching the leaders at the time and saying that I was worried that people would be expecting a replacement Vanessa when I’m so different from my sister. However, they assured me that I was approached because of who I am, not because of who I am related to.
I would like to pretend that the 10 years after that went smoothly, but I have enough battle scars to prove that theory wrong. Through my years of being a youth leader, I’ve attended funerals, weddings, baptisms, all of former youth members. I’ve gotten into intense arguments, and there were many times when I just wanted to walk out. However, what kept me grounded was knowing that God has a greater plan. Many times I couldn’t see it, especially when I felt hurt beyond measure. A few weeks ago, someone asked me why I am still here after everything that has happened to me, how I still found the energy to be involved, and my response was that God isn’t done using me yet. I don’t always understand what He is doing or why He is doing it, but I know that just like Esther and many other workers of His throughout history, He has put me in a certain place for a reason. Despite everything, God’s plan is greater than me, and greater than my pride, and I have to just allow Him to use me in whatever way He can.
The formation of the Young Adults group has been instrumental in helping me cope the last couple of months. It had been a pipe dream of mine for a long time, for the church to have a space where young adults can get together, fellowship and support each other. Because God has everything perfectly timed, I was dwindling out of my youth leader duties just as this new ministry began. When you are a leader in the church for a large portion of time, you start not allowing yourself to be vulnerable, to truly come to terms with what you struggle with. Especially when you are leading young people, there is so much pressure to be perfectly put together at all times that there is almost no room to fail, and that causes you a lot of damage in the long run. During our first young adults session, I never spoke at all because this territory was unfamiliar to me. However, as the months went on, I started opening up more as to what I was struggling with, the pain I was feeling, my anger, and how hopeless I feel at times because of the circumstances that was forced upon me. In this space, I found the kind of support that I never expected to find at church. Church had almost become like a second place of work. It’s amazing to know that you have a group of people your own age who understand your struggles, who empathise with you and are constantly praying for you.
So, it has been 13 years since my confirmation, and there hasn’t been a time when I’ve spent time with some of the amazing friends I have made at this church that I haven’t thought of that comment that was made about me, and how ironic everything turned out to be. If anything, the lesson I learnt is that the church is made up of people, and people are never going to always be right about you. However, it’s up to you to choose to believe them, or to choose to believe God’s plan for your life.
Young Adults Ministry takes place the second Sunday of every month