Jun 23, 2011, 12:50 PM
Two things are to be noted in the process of youth participation in evangelization.The first thing is the evangelization of the youth folk and then their participation in the task.This means that the youths need to be evangelized before they can be part of the task and process.The Latin adage has it, “nemo dat quod non habet”, meaning you cannot give that which you do not have.
The youths therefore after being well evangelized they can play their role in the process of evangelization.The terminology evangelization is derived from the Greek noun, “euagelion”, meaning good news.Therefore evangelization means bringing or spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to people for the sake of the kingdom of God.
In the Papal document called Evangelii Nuntiandi by Pope Paul VI, the Church defines as, “the bringing of the good news into the strata of humanity and through its influence transforming humanity within and making it new”.(Ev. Nunt. 18). Also the saint of our times, Saint John Paul II expressed the urgency of evangelization in this way, “The gospel message should be made relevant to all peoples, cultures and languages.It must be new in zeal, method and expression”.Mother Theresa of Calcutta expressed also that, “evangelization is like having Jesus in your heart and make Him present in the heart of others”.
The reference to youths or the youth folk sometimes is controversial and the question arises as to who is youth.Youth is sometimes defined within an age category, i.e. those between the ages of 18 – 40 years.In another school of thought, youth is not confined to age.Youth is understood as to how one feels, i.e. youth at heart.A youth can in this concept be a person at the age of 60 years so long as he/she can adapt to youthful activities in appearance, attitude and life style.
The youth folk therefore can contribute a lot in the process of bringing the gospel values and share them with others who need to know about Jesus Christ.There are many ways in which the process of evangelization can be carried out because of the different models that the Church uses.One can reach out to communities, use Church schools set ups, radio, television, youth rallies or camps etc.For the youth folk they need to see what suits them especially when the process is done from like to like.There is a great impact if youths can evangelize one another.The scriptural texts of MK. 15:16 and Matt. 28:19-20 can be their guiding principles.
The process of evangelization always go with challenges and the youth folk need to be aware of these.First and fore most, our youth folk experience the issue of migration, rural-urban or from Coast to Coast which recently has affected our sub-region.Our youth folk should be aware of the dangers involved and how the Church loses its youth members.The youths and the Church need to look into ways and means of providing for the youths so that they can remain in their communities.The ‘back way syndrome has affected us greatly and many lives are lost in the Mediterenean Sea
Secondly drugs and alcoholism always comes as a constant problem.Many young Christians identify themselves with alcohol at any given Church celebrations and this is a problem.The Church and youth folk should discourage their peers from alcoholism and encourage them to secure their lives.
A third challenge for the youth folk is the attitude of moving from one Church to another.This occurs because some youths are confused by others to the extent that they cannot remain in their Churches but rather seeking for what they cannot get from one Church to another.This is a challenge that the Church and the youth folk can focus on to stop the menace of supermarket Church to another seeking for unattainable items, “miracles”
Fourthly the media and the internet for some youths become second habits.The media and the internet to a certain extent interfere with the life of the youths especially now that the social media is rampant.In such medium, there exists wrong influences and teachings of life, trafficking of persons, pornography etc.The Church and the youth folk should be involved to alert youths or even enable them to use the social medium to evangelize and extend to good news.
Lastly I would draw attention to sexual harassment and exploitation of young people (women) this has been a trend in which young women especially become victims for wrong reasons.Under some circumstances many men of influence and money make advances to lure these young women and therefore make them victims of circumstances.While the youth folk are involved in evangelization, they should take a stance for Christ and say no to such vices.The Church again in collaboration with the youths should help the young women against sexual harassment and exploitation.
The youth involvement and participation in evangelization is equally important as that of the priests, religious and teachers.Youths and all agents of evangelization have roles to play to making the good news known for the sake of the Kingdom of God.