Give the Gift of Jesus to Teenagers

The topic of spiritual growth will not be found in the Sixth National Development Plan. It is an incredible phenomenon that secular institutions, anxious about the intellectual, physical, and social welfare of children, are deliberately silent on religious and moral development. Even Christian fathers and mothers will pressure their children to make good grades, but will rarely ask their children if they are growing closer to Christ. Many churches in Zambia have strict rules about pre-marriage counseling but few have culturally relevant Bible study materials to help their teens become devoted followers of Christ.

So, when Chibamba Kanyama says we are facing a huge crisis as nation in his letter to the Post Newspaper, this is not an understatement. Our teenagers are in danger. Pornography, pregnancies, HIV and AIDS, unemployment, abortions, and drug and alcohol abuse have become commonplace. Chibamba asks parents to apply a high level of responsibility by setting the right standards and values for their children. The challenge for Chibamba is these very parents are often leaders who are divorcing their spouses and engaging in extramarital affairs. What we need are more parents who exhibit values of family unity and sacrificial service to under resourced communities. Sadly, many of our well resourced families hit the headlines in their communities because of the vacations, smart phones, computers and iPads they have given to their children.

Unless the church re-positions itself to meet teenager’s spiritual needs of love and significance, the church may become irrelevant to this generation.  Most of the teenagers Chibamba describes in his letter as “reckless” are about to leave home to pursue higher education, careers, or to live on their own. At most in our churches -this age group constitutes a minimum of two thirds attendance.  The church needs to cultivate a love for the Bible and God’s authority in the lives of these teenagers. We need to develop youth leaders with the creativity to develop programs that deal with sexuality among other social, intellectual, and spiritual issues. Teenagers need to know that Jesus had a normal childhood and adolescence. He went through the same progression as we do. He grew physically and intellectually. He related to other people, and was loved by God (Luke 2:52).

Likewise, youths should be taught how to get along with their peers. Left to themselves they will become self-centered and lustful if they are not taught to share and to be concerned for others. Young people ought to be nurtured by their churches in developing sacrificial and loving relationships, which ultimately can contribute to stable and happy marriages, communities, and country. Youths should take social responsibility in the community for environmental care, and repairing broken infrastructure in schools, clinics and churches. Youth ministry must include biblical teaching on stewardship. How to budget money, how to spend your time, and how to write a personal development plan should be covered by relevant churches. Many young people honestly do not know how to govern their time and life. To be useful servants in the Lord’s Kingdom they must be taught how to be good stewards of all the Lord has entrusted them with. As we celebrate the greatest gift to mankind-our Lord Jesus Christ, may we respond in gratitude with a commitment to invest in the spiritual health of our youth. Mary and Joseph made that commitment to Jesus-within a few weeks of his birth they took him to the temple to be dedicated to God.

Lawrence Temfwe