Greetings in the Name of the Lord. I truly give thanks for your prayers for this mission field, and for your gracious support. It has been a great help for us to serve in this place together.
The Junior Youth Fellowship in the Campus Church
It was during the years when I was serving in Sunday school at the campus church, that I found those children who had finished Sunday School and were no longer seen in church – and it made me think! It took me a couple of years to learn that after primary education, children further their secondary education mostly in boarding schools far from home. They come back home only during school holidays. Only then did they come back to church. Though they return a short while, there was no fellowship assigned for this age group. They spend four or five years this way. After secondary education, then they join the youth fellowship. In other words, the teenagers in the church were missing the spiritual education needed for their age. For this reason, I took an initiative to organize a fellowship for teenagers in the campus church. Recently we got a new addition of missionaries at BCEA and they help in the Sunday School. That helps me to be able to concentrate on the Junior Youth Fellowship only.
Poverty, broken families, and peer pressure are quite common issues affecting adolescents everywhere. Besides that, there is another issue which is quite unique to Kenya. It has to do with a certain period of time. Normally after the national exam (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) the secondary school graduates wait for their exam results, then they proceed to find a college/university according to the exam results. Now, this period of time can last up to nine months, more or less. Unfortunately, many of them don’t manage this time well. Idle at home or roaming around, many get involved with wrong deeds too. I have seen a few cases where after the national exam, some of the young ladies disappeared from church life. And when they came back to church, a few years later, they were with a child. Sadly, nowhere was the father of the child seen. You wonder about what happens to them. It is very painful.
By the way, there is a high rate of single mothers in Kenya. Either divorced or left with children outside of wedlock, their lives are hard. With full responsibility for their children, single mothers are so occupied with making a living to feed their children, that they have little quality time for themselves. Besides, missing a father figure in the family is another factor affecting their disciplinary issue at home. In the Junior Youth Fellowship, I used to have adolescents who had not seen their father at all. Exposed to a poverty-stricken environment, delinquent peers around, no strict discipline at home – such adolescents are many. They easily make wrong decisions.
This year the government set the national exam in April in order to make up those missing terms due to COVID-19. After the exam, the adolescents are free until around September when colleges and universities start. It has been my burden to help them grow spiritually during this period of time. (I once shared this in one of my earlier prayer letters. While people pray for the youth to pass their exams, I can’t but remember their lives after the exam).
I used to keep “S” near me, under my care, because of her family background. This year in April, she did her KCSE and brought me the results. The results showed that she was good enough to enter further studies in a college level. I asked her what she likes to study for her career. Strangely, she knows what she does not like to study but does not know what she likes to study. (By the way, she has grown up in a poor family where she is the eldest sister. She had to take care of the younger siblings and was forced to do things not of her own choice). Anyway, I happened to arrange some casual work for “S”, and paid her 1500ksh. I asked her how much the tithing is to the Lord. She answered “50 ksh.” “Are you sure? “I asked again. Then she looked a bit confused “100ksh?” I just laughed at her, because I remembered her mathematics class resulted in a D-. “Oh! My dear S, tithing means ten percent of your income to the Lord, and ten percent of 1500 ksh is 150 ksh. Please, on Sunday, will you give to the Lord 150 ksh? OK?” Whoops! It is like teaching a little child. Friends, she needed that detailed guidance. Probably, it was her first time to earn money by herself and arrange an offering on her own. My Junior Youth are big in body but still young in mind. Helping them one by one, especially for their spiritual growth should be the core of my ministry. As years pass by, the young ones grow older and mature. It is my joy to see those who have grown stable and firm enough to serve in church.
Nowadays, I conduct Bible reading before the main service for those who are day-students (they can come to church every Sunday) in the Junior Youth Fellowship. During school holidays, those from boarding schools will be back to church, and then they join us to read the Bible together. In the Bible reading, they take turns reading verse by verse aloud. As often is the case, Christians know about the Bible but do not know what is written in it. What about these young adolescents? So I am praying that as they read, they will understand and apply the word of God in their lives. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Friends, pray for the youth in Kenya in general, as they are going through such an empty and dull period, that they will spend their time wisely.
In His service,
Bai, Eun Young