Being a young follower of Christ in Israel today

Being a young follower of Christ in Israel today

Bader Mansour - November 28, 2018

Living as a young follower of Christ in Israel today is not easy, as 98% of the population in the country are Jewish or Muslim. Even when it comes to the 2% of the population that is nominal Christian, most people are far from God. When a young adult decides to follow Christ, he or she is challenged to live against the tide, just like Daniel and his friends had to go through while serving at the king’s palace, having to take daily decisions to follow the Lord.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine (Daniel 1:8A NIV).

I will share a story from my own family to explain this. As some of you know, we lived in the United States for two years in the heart of the bible belt in an area where most people go to church on Sundays (and Wednesdays) and our children were always around kids from Christian families, and attended youth groups and other church activities. We moved back home a couple of years ago. Just last month, my two older boys were baptized in the Jordan river along with a dozen believers from our local church in Nazareth.

I would like to share with you what our son Rami, 15 years of age, shared at the baptismal service.

“I grow up in a Christian home and learned to love Christ from a young age. I would even share my faith with my friends. When I moved to the United States as a sixth grader, we lived in Christian milieu, I felt that being Christian is simple implicit, and quite effortless. When we returned back to Nazareth I was in total shock and realized that the Christian belief is not that simple at all, as most people around me were not Christian. I began meeting lots of atheists and people from different faith backgrounds that challenged my faith. I had to take a decision. Either I abandon believing in Christ all together, or to embark on a journey to search for God. I started seeking God, reading the bible for long hours and praying. I got closer to God, but I had lots of questions. God sent people to direct me and explain things for me. I saw the Lord working in my heart and my mind and changing me.

My mother, to whom I am grateful, guided me and prayed for me and to the youth leaders who helped me and answered my questions. I am now at a stage where I decided to stick to the Lord and give him my life in all, so here I stand in front of you, my church, to declare my faith in Christ. I am determined to follow Jesus with no turning back”.

The story of Rami is similar to story of many young Christians in our community, as many of the Baptist churches here are small and lacking in resources. Especially for these young people who do continue to attend church, there aren’t many in the congregation who are their age and stage of life, or people who can guide them in their faith journey.
To answer the need, the ABC decided to give special attention to youth ministry. In 2018, we appointed Luna Matar to coordinate youth programs, to encourage and nurture the faith of young Christians in our community.

For this purpose, monthly programs for youth from all churches were organized this year. This included an online group to encourage youth to read the entire bible, regional youth meetings with around 100 youth in each meeting and fellowship days: One for playing sports together and another with a trip to biblical sites around Jericho including teaching from the Bible. In addition, an annual conference for youth and young adults from all over the country, is held every year, appropriately, at the start of the New Year as a time for young people to come together to revitalize their faith and renew their hope in the Lord.

As these activities seem very minor and insignificant, these programs are very important for the growth of the young people and the churches, if we look at them in the context of Daniel in the king’s place, and Rami in modern day Nazareth.

Thanks to your generosity, these programs are subsidized to allow as many young people to participate in the retreat, in the day trips and to allow Luna to continue to lead as a part time worker for the ministry of young people.

If you wish to support the youth ministry of Association of Baptist Churches in Israel (ABC), you can make a donation as described in its website. Thank you for your on-going support for the ministries and programs of ABC as we seek to serve the Lord in Israel.

It is a challenging reality in which the young people in Israel live in, and yet the love of Christ is powerful indeed. Please remember them in your prayers.

Photos: Bader Mansour

This story was first published by the Association of Baptist Churches in Israel, and is used with permission.