How do we engage young people in mission? That is likely our most frequently asked question of the last 9 months. My husband and I arrived in New Zealand last December with a lot of excitement to start the next chapter of our life and ministry as mission enablers for NZCMS. We came from Cambodia where we had been serving as missionaries for many years. My husband a New Zealander, myself an American, and our 3 children – typical TCKs (Third Culture Kids) who have more stamps in their passports than most adults and aren’t sure how to answer the question, “Where are you from?”
We are passionate about mission and came from a place where almost everybody in our Christian community was equally passionate. We all held a deep unwavering understanding of the value and Christian mandate of mission. When we arrived in New Zealand we quickly started to realize how much of a missionary bubble we had been living in. We looked around and saw an entire generation of young people who think global missions is misguided, paternalistic, and outdated.
Today’s generation did not get to this point quickly; it was a gradual process during which they lost sight of the main point of mission – to bring the light of Christ into the world. But young people are passionate about the world, about bringing God’s light into dark places, and about caring for God’s creation. So really, they are passionate about mission; they just don’t know it.
Out of this realization NZCMS have launched a gap year program called Better World, which will take young people on a radical social justice journey to three countries in 10 months. We will dig deep into the issues of our broken world, understand how our response to them is central to the Gospel, and explore how we can join in to make our world a better place. Our name, Better World, was chosen to touch on the desire many young people have to make our world a better place. But it was also given with a deep understanding that God has called us to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth and reach into dark places around us with the light of the Gospel of Christ.