The United Nations’ (UN) International Youth Day was celebrated on August 12 each year to recognize efforts of the world’s youth in enhancing global society. It also aims to promote ways to engage them in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions to their communities. The theme of International Youth Day 2019, “Transforming education,” highlights efforts to make education more inclusive and accessible for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves.
The challenge we have
These are perfect thoughts and worth engaging. The situation of young people in the world is most endangered. With many leaders today being on a hoarding streak, youth seems to be a souvenir long lost, especially in opportunities for growth and impact in world matters. Who will come and make the difference? Most country leaders are caught up in endless corruption and scandals seem to be the new News Headline! No jobs, no grants, no real space for SME’s (Small to Medium Enterprises) for the upcoming business minds, no entrepreneurship capacity building beyond conferences and seminars. There is a real challenge for the person called youth today! Critical thought gives us more reasons for worry. The number of youth taken into police custody because of petty and severe crimes is on the rise. Adding drug addiction and rising cases of depression make a bad situation worse! But this a scratch on the surface. With this year’s theme- transforming education- the outcry is more in-depth for the middle and low class in society. In our country, Kenya, there is an honest need to review school, cartels nubbed, and ‘Wanjiku’ to be taken care of holistically. For those who may not have the ability to get their children in advanced institutions where systems work, they are left scampering and groping in the dark about their opportunity for a better life. Is it a wonder then that we have morals and values upside-down? Look at the rate of prostitution and sex-slaves; what about betting and gambling? Does it strike us that in most countries, even the first world, there is a seeming sense of hopelessness in regards to moral and societal progress? Governments are reacting instead of responding to needs — condoms distributed as if they are candy on the eve of Christmas. Family planning pills and procedures distributed to twelve-year-olds in the name of ‘protecting’ them from the vile. There is an evil spell that needs breaking.
The hope we need
The psalmist lived in a day where things seemed almost beyond control- or maybe he foresaw such days. In Psalm 119v9a, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” This verse is the question that many ask today. There seems to be a desperation in many a government’s hearts. How can we make these young people walk away from ills that wreck their future and cripple their opportunities? When we look within, we shall only find a bad smell of death. For the natural mind, this is the most disturbing thing. But the psalmist gives the remedy in verse 11, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” The Word is the key to this malady. John tells in chapter 1 that, in the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Later on, in verse 12, he tells us the Word became flesh and dwelt among men and that in this Word-incarnate, was the glory as of the only-begotten one of God.
We need to see this as the antidote for our predicament. Jesus, the Word made flesh. He changes us from the inside out. I have walked the world a bit; in my walkings, I have not yet a man/ woman who has ever said that since they got their doctorate or landed their clothing line or even made their biggest sale, their lives have never been the same. They still have an emptiness of heart, desperation, and a sense of hopelessness. I have met many whose lives are changed because they have a relationship with Jesus Christ. This change is a miracle! 2Corinthians 5:17-19 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” We need to experience this miracle for us to begin the journey of transformation.
The message of Christ is such that he will save anyone who calls on his name. It does not matter how deep down the drain they have gone. God is the transforming agent that our hearts need. He is the quickening one- causing us to have a higher reason for morality and value-based living. Jesus does not call us to a list of things to do or not to do. He is calling us to a relationship and not a religion! The psalmist later adds in 119v11, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” In John 15, the apostle points us to Christ’s words, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will bear much fruit.” Change comes from within. When the Lord changes a heart, he has ultimately changed lives. Morals and values are all matters of the heart. We need much more than rehabilitation centers, and drugs, to educate the young people about the Word of God. The prophet tells us in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge...”- and this knowledge is not about science or mathematics but God. When people lack an understanding of God, all their lives go haywire!
The knowledge of Christ is like the sun at the center of the Solar system. It holds each planet in orbit with the radiance of its heat! Should the sun cease from being the center of the Solar System, all of them will go into utter confusion! The same way with our society today; Christ is not the center of our lives; morals and values break because of the hollow in our hearts. Jesus Christ must be the power at the center of our lives that sustains everything, including our morals, in its proper orbit.
In this upcoming Youth Day, may you see the point of it all- Christ must become the center of your life. As we look at education, may our hearts be truly educated in this critical matter- the knowledge of Christ the Savior. He says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy ladened, and I will give you rest.” As we celebrate this youth day, may your life be changed for the better. May you find what your heart’s most profound search is- a relationship that is unlike all others. Until the hearts of youth meet the maker who changes all things, all our efforts to make headways in morality and values will be exercises in futility.