My last major ministry commitment for 2022 was speaking at a young adult retreat. This was a retreat for GenPaul, the young adult ministry of Queenstown Baptist Church. They had asked me to speak about spiritual friendship. The Lord had been convicting them about the need for deeper relationships since the beginning of the year and they wanted a retreat to cap off this focus.
I felt a bit lethargic. It was the end of another demanding year. I had just come back from an extremely full week in Penang. But it was Queenstown Baptist, the church I joined when I first came to Singapore for uni in 1974. And it was spiritual friendship, my core concern. And it was young adults.
I am always amused when I hear young adults share with me that they find that older folks don’t get them. I am amused because I am a few years short of 70. I feel very privileged that they let this grandpa walk with them. Maybe they know that I care for them.
I don’t pretend that I know all that is happening in their world, and it would be untrue to pretend otherwise. But I admire young adults, their energy, their knowledge, their curiosity, and their willingness to give themselves sacrificially to causes they believe in. When I am with them, I focus on them, I ask questions, and I listen. Sometimes, I tentatively share ideas which I think may be helpful to them. Sometimes they are, sometimes they are not. I learn so much from them.
Sometimes they honour me by sharing about their concerns at key crossroads of their lives, or about the pains and confusion of failures real or perceived. I try to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.
I welcome questions and doubts they have about their faith. I share that I have doubts of my own about some of the issues they raise and how I have learnt to live with questions. At some point we may talk about how growing up includes learning to live with ambiguity and grey areas, and that we will never know the answers to everything, but that we know enough to follow Jesus.
So, I enjoyed my three evenings with GenPaul. Pastor Isabella and hubby Eric welcomed me warmly and fed me abundantly. I was blown away when one of the GenPaul leaders wrote this to me after the retreat:
. . . the retreat really stirred the hearts of many young adults who became confronted with brokenness/shallowness in the friendships we have in GenPaul and the desire to deepen our spirituality and spiritual friendships. It wasn’t the “feel good” kind of retreat but an exposing of the long-standing unresolved issues kind of retreat.
I have been in ministry long enough to know that you show up, you present your talk, but it is God who moves hearts.
As I KonMari my ministry commitments for 2023, I guess walking with young adults will be a keeper.