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Raising Up Young Leaders

What an event we are having so far. I’m excited. The comments have been exciting. And as we shift into the next section of our more event presentation we wanted to highlight a very specific mission pillar which is raising up the next leaders. You’ve seen the emails about the young leaders program.

You might be a young leader yourself, but we thought it was important in our drive to find the next Timothy out there to revisit some of the young leaders that have been part of the YFC family over time, many times. Beginning at the general assemblies that a lot of you out there have attended in the past.

So we scoured the world and tried to get representation from people that attended various GA’s from different areas and bring them together for a little bit of panel. And I’m excited to have James Gatica from South America. He’s in between countries right now, as I understand it. James, welcome to the panel.

And we also have Timea out of Europe. We have Jake Bland out of USA and Desiree out of Namibia over in Africa. And what we want to accomplish here today is to share a little bit about what you’ve been up to.

Mike, thank you so much for this opportunity to share with you all and leading this panel discussion about this, the young leader process that obviously international has run for so many years, having impact on so many lives, including mine.

I joined YC in Chile in South America in 2007. On one year later, I was invited to be part of a YFC international GA in South Africa, which was huge for me. I was only 17 years old and definitely impacted my life personally to be part of this huge international family – to be part of this process that I learned so many things about leadership and how to work with the community and young people in my own country.

And then help others in the region using my communication skills. I’m currently a journalist on a work as a foreign correspondent based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. And it’s always a pleasure to introduce also some of my colleagues, these young leaders, colleagues from around the world, including Timea, who is in Germany, but previously in Hungary, how are you?

Good. Thank you so much for having me on this call. Lovely to see you again. Since we haven’t seen each other so many years but I’m doing well and it’s so good to be here. So also thank you so much. Also from Africa, Desiree. How are you this morning? All right. Hi, I’m doing very well. Thank you for having me.

It’s lovely to be here. Thank you for joining. Also Jake from the United States, who also was part of the 2008 GA all the way there in Downing, South Africa. How are you, Jake? I’m well, it’s good to be here. Thanks for the invitation. Good to see you. Good to see you, too. So I would like to start asking this:

What it was for you, how did it impact your work with YFC when you started this young leader process back in 2003. She went all the way to Brazil to start a process. Yeah. Maybe one thing that I can start off to say, once that, for me, this program…the very, very important thing for me was the global Youth for Christ family, because sometimes we are so narrow minded to just what we know around us, but to get to the young leader program in Brazil or the GA General Assembly programming and looking at all these people was really mind-blowing to see that it’s not only as in Namibia, but it’s, it’s huge. So that was exciting for me too. And it, it really changed my perspective of leadership so much because I was – I’m the type of shy person. And this program really helped me to get out of my shell and to excel today where I am today, the initial director of the ministry in Namibia.

So it really the, the development in this program to become more bold and developed in that area. So, what about for you, Timea? What were your expectations when you heard about the young leader process? Was it something new? What was your involvement with YFC? 

I was super excited when I got the invitation. And I heard that I can be part of the whole young leader process. I was very new working for YFC back then. And I was eager to learn a lot and I was excited to meet a lot of young people. And as Desiree said, that was that  eye opening for me. And that just changed my world view by their mind view. I was able to connect with so many people around the world and just to see their face and sharing and hearing their stories really impacted my life and my leadership.

Yeah, definitely. I can definitely say that it was same for me sharing these experiences here, what they were doing in different regions… that, that we had similar issues as well, challenges, but we have the same focus. So I would like to ask Jake what were your thoughts about leadership that you learned during this process that probably you are using until now.

Yes. Thank you. And I certainly agree with, what’s been said. I would like to say that it was the closest thing to heaven that we may get to experience until heaven to see so many tribes, tongues nations under one roof was a beautiful thing. And so to shape an experience of leadership, what I would say is it gave me a global perspective to learn in humility, what ministry looks like around the globe.

Prior to that, my experience was only in my small town. Where I was leading a local YFC ministry on a high school campus and there in the U S here we are very much a post-Christian nation. And I got to hear from leaders from around the world who are part of advancing the mission in regions of the world, where the kingdom is, is advancing more significantly than I had.

So, whether it was learning about widespread prayer efforts or learning about, excuse me online ministry and how we’re reaching kids electronically. There were so many ideas that were shared in that experience that shaped my leadership today. I’m grateful. So this all right. Is there anything that you remember from the program that you’re currently using in your local ministry?

Yeah, one of the things that’s really excelling in our ministry that I’ve learned from my timing as a young leader in Brazil was Operation Hannah – the mother’s praying for the young people. And there is one thing out of the program, apart from the leadership training that we’ve learned apart from excelling in your leadership based a young leader apart from seeing the global family.

But the one thing that really stuck with me from date young leaders, 2003, was the mothers coming to pray for the young people. And that is one thing that I brought back to our nation. And today I can say that it’s one of the ministries that is really excelling in our ministry. Mothers starting to pray for the ministry, people, guys, mothers, starting to pray for the young people in particular for our nation.

And like I said, for me personally getting out of my shell. And being able to stand in front of, of a group of people and just impart the leadership stuff that I got back into people whether it’s into school kids, whether it’s in teacher’s training state with us, whether it’s in business, people that we do team buildings work, and then our own young people to discipleship in all things.

So, yeah, it is what the gaining the confidence that I now can impart into the young people in our nation. That’s great to hear. So Timea, you are no longer in your home country, but working with YFC in Germany are you using any, you know, any of the skills that you learned during the program?

Absolutely. Since I live in Germany, I’m working not just with the German YFC office, but also the west European office as I became the western regional director for the countries. So I learned through the process that sometimes leaders can feel lonely and loneliness that, I need to carry the, the leadership responsibilities and what I really use since then is that there is always place where we can ask questions and in the YFC family even in our own country, but also as you mentioned in the wider family. If we can find good connections and then mentors through the family connections where we can ask the questions.

And then when we feel this is just too much on my shoulder I can ask somebody who has more experience in leadership and can give practical help. If you are in that situation I can pray for you. This is what we can suggest to you or this is some good questions.

What might help you out in the current situation? So I really appreciate these international connections. Yeah. Personally, I can say exactly the same, but for me it was to put faces and names next to countres. Which before was probably quite unknown for me on what felt quite isolated, you know, we’re regions.

And I think it opened my eyes to international opportunities, opened my eyes to the world, to be curious, and to ask questions and to want to learn more about those realities and … the challenges that … helped me professionally. So not only working with the ministry, I mean the region, but I remember so vividly in, during the GA in Thailand. I think there was 2018 or 16, which was just in the middle of the Ukraine crisis. And I was talking with some brothers and sisters who were attending the conference. What was it like for them to live during these very troubled times in their countries and how firsthand perspective, really helping to understand and use it in my career as a professional, as a journalist.

So Jake, what was it for you? Do you use any sort of skills outside the ministry in your community, your professional career? Yes. And, you know, just as was already said, as to me, I said about the loneliness this idea that we are together with the global family has given me insight into every conversation.

So you ask how to use that. We use it, I use it in conversations with my neighbors. I use global perspective now in conversations with friends, with those that I go to. Who maybe have not had the same kind of global experience…maybe don’t have relationships with young Christian leaders around the globe that we are able to benefit from and to gain that insight.

And so the Lord certainly has a lot to say about unity. He prayed for unity in John 17 for us in Matthew 24, we hear that things will get worse before they get better, but the kingdom, the gospel will advance all around the world. And we get to be a part of that. It is a privilege. And so the reminder that we are not alone and then to bring those insights from these relationships into each and every conversation has been a wonderful gift in all of the relationships that have come in contact.

Okay, could you share very quickly? What are you, what is your current role now with YFC? So when we were part of the young leaders program, I was leading a ministry with a high school campus, very small town. Today. I’m the national director of Youth for Christ USA. So I have the privilege of leading our national family here in the United States.

And that’s a new role. It started June 1st of this year. So honored to be in this. That’s amazing. Congratulations. We already hear about Timea. What about you? What are you currently doing? I’m currently leading our young leaders in the program. Can you share a little word of wisdom for these young leaders? Not only in the media, but across the world.

Yeah, definitely. I think one of the things that I want to say to you is never doubt yourself. Sometimes we sit with these great thoughts and beliefs in ourselves. And then you maybe think that I just, I don’t know if it’s going to work. I’m not, I don’t know if it’s the truth or whatever.

Don’t doubt yourself. Just go out. They make a change amongst your peers and family especially, and yeah, just be yourself. That’s all I want to say. And never doubt yourself with the help of the Lord Jesus. You can go so much further, greater and deeper in this program and it’s going to be good.

That’s amazing teaming out. What would you say to the next generation of young leaders? I would say sometimes we feel we are traveling with the rollercoaster, but it’s totally normal. This is absolutely normal. Sometimes we are up. Sometimes we are down, but we are here for one another. And then as we can read from the book of John that God is pouring out his spirit on us.

And He’s the one who is leading us in every situation. And we will not be never be alone. And as we already mentioned that we are one family and we are here so don’t be afraid of questions and there is never a wrong question or yeah, or wrong thought about leadership, just be open and and connect with the YFC family.

So, what about you, Jake? What will be your word of wisdom? I would say Jesus was quite serious in John 15. When he said apart from me, you can do nothing. If you remain in me, you will bear much fruit. And so when I reflect on the last 10, 12 years when I look at moments, when I’ve been close to Jesus, there has been much fruit.

And when there are moments, when I have tried to strive in my own effort it has fallen apart. And I know that there is an entire generation coming up behind us that the Lord is raising up today. And so you are not alone. And we are with you. I believe that the young leaders that come up behind us will advance the gospel even further than our generation.

And we’ll be there to cheer you on and to support you in that effort. It’s been incredible to share with you all and to see your faces from every corner of the world. I’m so happy to be part of this family. And thank you, Mike, for having us today. And I know there’s more in this YFC International MORE conference.

Oh, more, more and more. Oh my gosh. I’m, I’m looking at you all and I’m loving the amount of wisdom on this screen that was just shared with our YFC family. It is incredible. And it’s all because it was gained from the Lord and given to us to use, to proclaim his name.

The notes that I have here… don’t doubt yourself. How many of us deal with doubt every day? Be open, transparent with one another with the brothers and sisters in Christ to carry each other’s burdens, embrace confidence that you picked up as young people. At a conference, which was kind of like being in an airport, but a family at the same time where everyone was going places just that confidence that was built that has stayed with each one of you.

And then Jake, you said something like the transferable skills, whether you’re, you’re talking to ministry directors, potential partners, donors, heads of state, and a lot of places, or you’re ministering to your community. On the basic level of your neighbor, the level of skills that you get from this young leader program is I think extremely worthwhile and beneficial.

James, thank you for hosting this round table. We’re going to bring Brandon back in at some juncture to talk about the young leader program. For those of you that are watching, maybe you’re looking for this opportunity to be a young leader. To learn something, maybe, you know, somebody that’s a good fit for the young leader program, but James you did so well.

Would you like to host some more of this maybe tomorrow or later on in the process? Sure my pleasure. So, well, I might invite you back folks. You might see James back if, if time allows and technology allows here, but he’s using the skill set that has been given through the young leaders program and through the world from his career to bless us a little bit.

So thank you, James. Thank you, Timea. Thank you, Desiree. And thank you, Jake. I love you. I love the fact that I get to call your brothers and sisters in Christ and that we’re part of the same Youth for Christ family. So God bless you all and see you soon.