This past week, volunteers on YWAMs medical ship working in Papua New Guinea represented 18 different nations. Coming from all corners of the world, and not getting any pay for what we do, as individuals we came together to use our dreams of a better world to bring life and plant those seeds in this nation. As an international team we sought to encourage these communities and those at home thinking of us, that if we do not start, change will never come. If we do not begin the work now, our children will never know how. My dream is that nations open up more opportunities for young people to make a difference.
I saw her standing at the gate filled with curiosity in her heart. She came over and sat down beside me, oblivious to the fact that I clearly had my headphones in a state of ‘do not disturb’. She sat, smiled and stared at me with wide eyes. Politely, I introduced myself after I figured she wanted to talk. Her name was Mariah- sweet, simple, young and obviously confident. What I hadn’t cared to consider, was the impact that this young eighteen year old would have on my week and perhaps even my life.
You see as this complete stranger started sharing her life with me in conversation, I witnessed an outpouring of her heart as she unloaded her hearts cry for the young people of this nation. Her desire to become an ambassador for youth, to encourage dreams and visions in the young people and to speak life directly into their hearts. She dreamt of a society free from violence and the corruption that so easily inhibits success. I was shocked. I came to Papua New Guinea with a vision to speak life into a nation, and I am walking away with life given to me.
I realised in that one conversation the importance of the young people in our communities and nations.
Isn’t it ironic that we overlook their opinions and silence their visions, yet these are the people who will bring change into our communities. These are the leaders of tomorrow. You see, young people have an incredible natural gift of vision that we as humans silence before they are adults and then wonder why we have to fight for a chance to change. Their simplistic world view and passion for justice and hope is so powerful because they are the ones willing to fight to put the vision into a plan and then the plan into reality.
I read a story once about a seed being planted in a garden. Funny, how something so small can grow into something so large, and in some cases large enough to become a place of refuge to many, in the case of a tree. What amazes me is that sometimes when we plant a seed, we do not always see the tree that it will become, or we do not end up resting under that particular tree. Yet given the right environment to grow and develop, that tree will grow anyways, whether we are present or not, and perhaps become a place of refuge for many others.Imagine if we gave our young people a chance to believe in a better world and encourage their motivation to see it become reality rather than silence them as we were.
Sure, as adults we may pass away before we see those seeds become reality in the world. We might give money to one poor child and never see poverty in the nation disappear, but our actions are giving our young people fertile soil and positive examples that change is coming and that they have the power, strength and ability to finish the race for us.
Mariah’s dream to help her people, spoke life into my heart. She didn’t look at the chaos of the task to help an entire third world nation out of violence, she looked into the eyes of the young people around her and saw a chance to speak life. Hope can spread like wildfire when we give it a chance.
If we lead our young people and focus on establishing in them a passion to see hope, we are changing the future, and perhaps out grandchildren will dance in a nation that was once filled with war.
Australia has some of the highest rates of youth suicide in the entire world. Our country is so well developed in so many areas, yet it is the generation of young people who are being oppressed and given a better reason to die than to live. In the last 10 years self harm among Aussie youth has risen by 50% and amazingly 1 in 4 youth will suffer with depression. These statistics affect the entire nation of tomorrow.
Perhaps one day, those who look around them and see the life in people’s eyes will remember the impact this generation made on history.
*names have been changed for privacy