Emergency situations require urgent and emergency approach if tranquility and peace will be restored. The church in the Northeast (Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Yobe, Taraba & Gombe) and indeed Nigeria is under insurgency. This insurgency is not only from Boko Haram, Fulani Herdsmen attacks, Banditry etc. but in different ramifications. Over the years, persecutions against Christianity and Christians have led to the growth of the church. For instance, the early church expanded greatly because of persecution against the disciples. The various attacks against the church in Nigeria should therefore never be the reason why the kingdom of God will be eliminated. One of the greatest needs of the church in Nigeria today is to raise men and women who will be quick and aggressive about expanding and advancing the course of Christ under the insurgency.
The Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeastern part of Nigeria has affected the livelihood of the people in every aspect of life. But the people that are mostly affected are the Christians. Several Christians have died, many abducted and many have been injured. According to the President of the Church of the Brethren (EYN), Rev. Joel Billi, “Over 700,000 members have been displaced with only seven out of 60 District Church Councils that were not directly affected by the insurgency. EYN has lost over 8,370 members and 8 Pastors with the numbers increasing on daily basis” Several church buildings and villages belonging especially to EYN members have also been burnt.
Youth and students are one of the groups of people that have mostly been affected by the insurgency. The Chibok girls and several other Christian students and youth have been abducted and can’t be accounted for. Several schools have been destroyed and many students are out of school. Other attacks are still going on that are under reported or not reported at all. Some of the young people are living in congested Internally Displaced People (IDP) Camps till today. The danger is real, the attacks are real, the memories and scenes of their experiences are also real.
The survival of any family, society and even the church in the northeast and Nigeria at large depends on the survival of children and youth. Therefore, there is great urgency to reach and revive the youth in the Northeast if the Kingdom of God will continue to be firm and also advance in this region and Nigeria as a whole. In the midst of the insurgency, there is a draconian decree by the devil to exterminate the Hebrew “boys.” God’s church especially women and the youth are the most vulnerable. The story of Leah Sharibu is still fresh in our minds. She was captured along with her Muslim school mates in Dapchi, Yobe State. They were all released except Leah because she refused to renounce her Christian faith.
The Fellowship of Christian Students as an indigenous students and Youth ministry has been raising several people in the Northeast and Nigeria as a whole. Most outstanding Christians including pastors and elders in the North were raised in the FCS. However, there is urgency about youth ministry now than ever. This urgency in youth ministry is not only in the Northeast alone but in the whole country because the revolt against the Church is growing everyday across the nation. Banditry and herdsmen attacks are on the increase every day and Christians are the prime targets of all these attacks.
Why the Urgency in Youth Ministry?
Some of the reasons why youth ministry has become very urgent especially under the insurgency are as follows:
- The survival of God’s Kingdom in the Northeast and other regions facing persecutions largely depends on the youth. And if we are going to have people that will advance God’s Kingdom, the youth must be raised urgently.
- Children and youth are part of God’s plan. The prominent men and women that God used both in the old and present times were once children. In the Bible, youth like David, Esther, Gideon, Joseph, Timothy, Mary etc. made exploits while they were young. This is the time to raise such youth and show them God’s mandate over their lives and how they can be involved in Kingdom business
- The people standing and defending the Church in the Northeast today were raised as youth. Most of the pastors and elders I have met and discussed with in the north, told me they were raised by FCS in secondary school. The right time to raise the next generation of such pastors and elders is now.
- The glory of the youth is in their strength Prov.20:29. This strength has to be harnessed and channeled towards kingdom advancement. If their strength is not used by God, the devil will use it to advance his own course.
- The hope of the Church is in the youth and without them, the Church will go into extinction. In Israel, a whole generation arose that did not know the Lord. In the UK and some other western countries, young people are not interested in the church like other social activities. In some instances, churches are mostly filled with adults. If the church in Nigeria and Africa will not go to that extent, we need to reach out to the youth with more urgency.
- The Bible says, “It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth” Lam 3:27 (NKJV). The right time to put the yoke of discipleship upon a person is when they are young. The time of the youth is the proper time to envision young people to be kingdom minded. Daniel, David, and several young people in the Scriptures did exploits as youth. And if they are not engaged and discipled now that they are young, they will be engaged and occupied with wrong burdens and yokes. Personally, I was envisioned and burdened to become a missionary as a student in the secondary school.
Brethren, there is an insurgency that the kingdom of darkness has declared over the Church especially the youth. This is the time to recruit, equip and release children and youth that will contend with the enemy at the gate Psalm 127:5. Youth ministry should not just be for convenience and pleasure. There is urgency and a call to salvage this situation before it is too late. This is the time to arise and be earnest about this divine and noble call of raising the Church of tomorrow today. Youth ministry is indeed very urgent!
Iyua Vaungwa Emmanuel is a missionary with passion for the youth. His quest is to help youth to know Jesus personally, grow and be established firmly in Him. He believes that building and raising young people in Christ is the easiest way of rebuilding and reviving the family, church, and the nation at large. He is a writer, a poet, and an editor. He works with the Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS) Nigeria as the current Training Secretary of FCS, Borno State having served in Bauchi from 2013 to 2019. He also served as a Short Term Missionary with FCS Benue State in 2012 before proceeding to Zamfara State for his One Year mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) where he also served as the Corper Training Secretary of FCS, Zamfara State. He is married to Janet Msuur Vaungwa and are blessed with a son.