ARE MODERN YOUTH TURNED OFF TO MISSIONS?
This past Sunday, September 25, 2016, someone introduced us to a visiting pastor: "Ralph and Verna served as missionaries
in Europe for 40 years." The pastor replied, "That is wonderful! It is so sad that few young people respond to the Lord's
call to missions these days. It seems that the comforts of life, material attraction and worldly entertainment have become
very strong deterrents for the younger generation."
We have been hearing similar statements now for decades. While it is true that many churches are witnessing an exodus of
youth and young couples, I don't believe that the situation has changed that much since I gave my life to Christ at Camp
Haluwasa back in 1956.
I told the pastor that we had just returned from the annual Homecoming Conference of Avant
Ministries on Friday. I estimated that a hundred of those missionaries present
were retired from their fields of service and over 70 years of age. Several were
over 90, but most active missionaries are under 40!
We are no longer serving in a foreign country, but we are still missionaries at heart! And we are excited to hear about
what God is doing in the world today -- through committed and gifted young people! In 2002, we visited
a Muslim nation in Asia for two weeks
asking God if there could be an open door for the gospel. Convinced that this was the case, we shared this burden with
mission management. We were thrilled to learn in September, 2016, that of the 335 Avant
missionaries serving around the world, the second highest contingent of workers
serving in that nation!
Modern youth love extreme sports such as skydiving, snowboarding, whitewater kayaking, free-style motocross, frostbite
sailing, kitesurfing and ice climbing. But only the minority actually gets involved. The others just watch it on TV.
Some of the latter group will grow up, get good jobs and settle down in comfortable churches with entertaining music and
modern technology. And they will bemoan the exodus of youth and young couples who just don't seem to fit or feel comfortable
There is nothing so exciting and adventurous as missions and many young people are taking up the challenge to get involved.
Unfortunately, the majority of Christians is convinced that modern youth are not interested.
It seems that not much has changed since we were young "whippersnappers." It has always been a minority of young Christians
who sign on for missions. That was the case 50 and 70 years ago and it is the same today. But young Christians are going to
some of the most dangerous places on the globe to share the gospel with people who have never heard. They don't do this for
fame or recognition either. You won't see them on TV or read about their activities in publications because publicity is
dangerous for both the missionary and those whom they are trying to reach. Even those who are killed in service seldom make
it into the news media.
The following photo was taken at the 2016 Annual Conference of Avant Ministries.
My wife and I are seated next to Frank and Marie Drown, who were engaged in the 1956 attempt to reach
the Aucas of Ecuador with the gospel. Five of their colleagues died in that mission, but the Auca church is thriving today!
The next photo was taken at an earlier conference in 2008. Missionary Kids are eagerly listening to the Drown's stories. Those kids
are now likely college graduates or perhaps missionaries!
Ralph & Verna Harvey
September 30, 2016
[Frank Drown entered "Through Gates of Splendor" on Monday, January 22, 2018]