Encouraging Young Disciples

by May Hsin

May is involved in the youth work at Sungai Long Chapel in Malaysia.

There are many assemblies in Malaysia and much good work is happening in all of them. I have been so encouraged to hear how God has been working in all of these churches, particularly in youth ministry.

My assembly, Sungai Long Chapel (SLC) is located in Bandar Sungai Long, which is a small town in Selangor, Malaysia. Its population of 50,000 are majority Chinese with a minority of Indians and Malays. We are a young assembly. Our regular members on a Sunday morning number around 20 people. So all of us are involved in ministry work, even the oldest lady in our church, Aunty Lily, who involves herself not only by praying for us but also by being present and helping in the kitchen and encouraging the work.

Sungai Long Chapel was planted by Jalan Imbi Chapel (JIC), a small city church with a big heart to preach the gospel to workers and families in the inner city of Kuala Lumpur. Jalan Imbi Chapel celebrates its 62nd anniversary this year.

In 2016, we started our first remembrance service. We ran Sunday school on Saturdays and adopted an English programme to meet the needs of the community in that area. As the work expanded, we outgrew our small rented shop, so, in 2018, we moved to a larger three-storey building.

However, not long after that, Covid struck and due to the lockdowns we had to conduct our classes online. We sought the Lord for creative ways to present our classes and keep our students’ attention.

During this time, we continued to stay in touch with them through visitations. Despite that challenging time, we thank the Lord for His gracious and almighty hand to grow the Sunday school and youth work which started with a handful of children and has grown to serve 60 students today.

Growing in Our Community

Many people in our community are from non-English-speaking and non-Christian backgrounds so we run an English language programme. When young people come for the English classes, they also join the Sunday school where they learn about God’s Word.

In our youth group, we have eight core young leaders and five of them run the junior Sunday school by leading the songs and helping with the classes. This group is also involved in running the events and programmes for the children and young people. These programmes are not only for outreach, they are also a platform for the young people to serve and to learn how to depend on the Lord in doing His work.

Our goal is to guide our youth in their teenage years by establishing the right biblical foundation. We desire to see the Holy Spirit working in their lives, to nurture them to grow in Christ, help them discover their God-given gifts and for the Holy Spirit to align them with His Kingdom work in the assembly and beyond.

These programmes are not only for outreach, they are also a platform for the young people to serve

Widening Our Outreach

To help achieve this goal we are also involved in a number of other activities.

  • Discussions are held on topics such as social-media addiction, abortion, LGBTQ and other contemporary issues to engage young people in thinking about these ideas from a biblical point of view.
  • Outdoor and sports activities are organised to build healthy friendships and share the gospel with the participants.
  • Youth and outdoors camps are effectively used in the same way to build positive relationships and create opportunities for witness.
  • We also collaborate with our mother church, Jalan Imbi Chapel, to hold combined events such as joining their youth camp, Making a Difference, and having captain ball games.1

When we organise these events, the young people usually invite their friends and we get an average of 30 friends coming along with them. At one point, we had more than 60 young people at our event. While these numbers are good, it’s not about how many come to us but how many lives are transformed by the grace and love of God.

We used to organise events for the sake of organising events. Instead, now we’re much more gospel and outward orientated. For example, rather than having our leaders give the Christmas gospel message as we usually do, we had one of our young people give the message and most of the newcomers who came for our Christmas event were his friends.

Equipping Young People

We also want our young people to be well equipped so we send them to training schools like Gospel Literature Outreach (GLO) and Residential Bible School (RBS), where some of them will have the opportunity to stand on a bigger stage to serve. When we recently had a youth rally organised by CBSM2 our young people got their friends, whom they met through GLO and RBS, to come help out as well. I’m really proud of each one of them and it has been a blessing for me to know them, to learn with them and journey with them.

Going forward, we want to further encourage and empower the young people. We aim to involve them more in the decision-making process while, importantly, also guiding them and intentionally discipling them. I’m still learning how to strike that balance between giving a free hand and drawing boundaries that set them up for success.

In God’s Way

We live in exciting times and so much more can be done. However, to do great things for the Lord, we need to first live in accordance with His will and walk in a manner worthy of the Lord because it is really by the grace of God that the youth work can achieve spiritual fruit.

‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labour’ (1 Cor. 3:6-8).

God’s work for the youth must be done in His way, led by the Holy Spirit to fulfil God’s will according to His divine plan and purpose for each one of us. We humbly covet your prayers for the work here in Malaysia. I hope reading about this work has been beneficial and encouraging to you. I return all glory to God who in His mighty power enables the work in Sungai Long Chapel today.

Pray

  • for the young people as they learn and develop spiritually for wise discipleship and guidance
  • for continued growth at Sungai Long Chapel
  • for effective witness to God’s saving grace.
1 Captain ball is a game similar to basketball.
2 Christian Brethren Secretariat Malaysia (CBSM).
This article was adapted from a presentation given at IBCM8 in June 2023: www.ibcm.net

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