I’ve decided to take on Serene Wee’s encouragement, and to just get started on writing; it’s heartening and humbling to know that my words have an audience. To remove deterrents, I shall cease to tag from this point forth. And to get me restarted, I shall spill my thoughts after watching Royston Tan’s brilliant film, “15”, as part of my school work.
1. The movie left me with a heavy heart and I found myself retreating and interceding for all 15-year-old youths and juvenile delinquents after the movie ended. I prayed especially for those in R-AGE and those whom I know have drifted away due to their encounters with crime.
2. As these were true-life characters, last night was the first time I actually prayed for movie protagonists – Vynn, Melvin, Shaun, Erick and Armani. This is the only instance I’ve ever committed on-screen characters to God, and know that He would show mercy and grace to these five boys, wherever they are now.
3. I discovered my pastoral heart for juvenile delinquents for a variety of reasons:
- I’m confident that, if not for Jesus, I would have ended up as one
- I could actually understand 100% of the profanities they used and 75% of the dialect they spoke
- They are lost, helpless and alone, like many other and any other young person
- They have no one to turn to because society, together with their parents, have turned away from them
- Their number one need is for the love of Jesus to reign in their hearts more than anything else
4. To the best of my ability, I will never allow a Normal Technical, ITE student or anyone who is not in the mainstream education track to feel out-of-place in R-AGE. The youth group is, and must always, remain a safe place. That said, I will also fiercely protect my sheep if they are in danger of being hurt by a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
5. Single-parenthood could well be society’s greatest destructive force. And by the way, parents, listen up and listen good – comparing your child to someone else’s is one of the worst things you could ever do for them. If you are still doing it, it’s time to halt and repent; oh trust me, you won’t like it if they compared your inadequacies with another set of parents.
6. The issue of suicide and death in teenagers’ minds is closer than I think; oh Lord, please make me sensitive to all the warning signs. God forbid that I lose a young person to premature departure. Not on my watch, Lord, please. The youths in R-AGE must NEVER, EVER trivialise suicide; death is not and will never be a way of escape. It is my prayer that the media is responsible for guarding the thoughts of impressionable teenagers.
7. Rebellion isn’t a phenomenon to be mocked at or shunned. No, it’s a real cry for help more than anything else. There is real fear in those bloodshot hooligan eyes. Oh Lord, make me sensitive to reactive rebellious behaviour and give me favour and access into the lives of these youths; I know one of R-AGE @ GII’s reasons for existence is to reach this special group of youths.
8. Troubled youths, beneath all the bravado they exhibit, are lonely individuals searching for love and acceptance in a family cluster, just like regular ones.
9. How will I be remembered amongst the people whom I have the privilege and honour of walking and crossing paths with, be it for an hour or a year?
10. The way we view life determines the way we approach it; I thank God for making me an eternal optimist. However, I earnestly pray that I would become sensitive to pessimists and emotionally destructive people – may God expand my capacity and patience for them and to love them the way He does.
11. Sometimes, the most powerful way to tend to each other’s wounds is to be silent; when dealing with someone who’s hurt, the last thing you want to say is something he or she already knows. Just shut up and be present.
12. A better education should never give young people the opportunity to be snobbish and arrogant bastards (please, forgive the language). Instead, it should move these educated privileged ones to return something to society and make a difference to the lives of those who are not as educated as they are. Education must enlighten and exude goodwill and compassion, not apathy and individualism. Don’t ever be a NATO – no action, talk only. Respect must be imbued into our syllabus and fused into our upbringing, regardless of race or religion. The “educated”, for all its worth, must remain a neutral, factual word and should not condescend the “uneducated”.
13. Unity indeed, is strength. Oh Lord, help me to unite the youths whom you have given to me for a good and godly cause. I pray that You would cause division and divide amongst youths who are banding together for a destructive purpose – from gossip to gang fights – for it is just as damaging.
14. I make an impassioned plea to all youths who will ever read what’s been written here – there is always a better way than foolishness; the recklessness you demonstrate today will echo in the short-lived eternity of your life. And you may just live to regret it. I don’t wish that to happen to any young person. One of the saddest thing to hear from someone is, “I told you so…”.
15. Living without hope or purpose could well be death tragically experienced while alive. I am thankful that I am not living to die, but dying to live. I am convinced that the causes and ramifications of gangsterism is loneliness and rejection.
Let’s go through some of the things I said during my vision-casting sermon, that R-AGE @ GII will stand for:
- Redeemed youths redeem youths
- Youth Communities will grow, glow and go
- Ministry Extensions will reach, relate and reveal
- Youth services will be engaging, excellent and exciting
- Meet felt needs earnestly, lead passionately, connect authentically and believe wholeheartedly
Oh Lord, please this a youth group that redeems a generation for eternity!