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Play your part!

By Prosper Nkechukwuaga Isichei

2.4 Pastor I

Prosper Isichei addresses key issues facing young people with a heart for mission.

If a young person feels called to mission, what can help confirm that call?

As well as prayer and preparation, godly counsel is very important. God has placed people over you: parents, pastors, leaders, mentors and others. When the perceived call has turned into a conviction, it’s a good idea to share your experiences with any of these. They will give more insight and counsel that will further deepen your conviction.

Why is it important to have the support of a local church?

As you engage in the missions enterprise, never be deluded about being an active part of the local church. In one of our missions mobilization projects, a young leader made a decision to pursue his call. We affirmed his resolution, having spent time listening to him and the Lord, but we asked him to return to his church and share with the leadership.

God granted him favour, and he was not only affirmed, but was given a scholarship for theological training. The church also helped him begin a work among a least reached community, which is progressing fruitfully today.

Your church may not be missions-oriented, or they may have a rigid way of engaging in missions that may not accommodate your calling. But the church and your family (if they are Christians) are your strongest support base for your missions engagement.

What are the biggest challenges to youth getting involved in mission? How can these be overcome?

Some of the many challenges include:

Self – Personal ambition, interests and pursuits.

Pressure – From family and society to pursue a better life.

Satan – The devil will not give up on young people because he knows their potential.

Fears – The fear of failure, mediocrity, and uncertainty about the future.

Guilt/past – Until we reconcile with our past and embrace our identity in Christ, the torment of guilt will drive us away from following God in his mission. 

Bad models and counsel – We can be discouraged when we hear stories of missionaries who have laboured for years with, seemingly, no fruit. We can also be damaged by poisonous counsel from hurting older practitioners.

To overcome these, die daily at the cross. Lay all your fears, cares, burdens, past, guilt, counsel and failures at his feet every day. Keep company with those who inspire and encourage you in mission. Maintain a radical commitment to following Christ, whatever the cost, even if it means death.

How can young women take their places in ministry when so much of the work is male-led? What unique challenges do they face in responding to the Great Commission?

Scripture upholds the place of women in missions. In fact, a woman was the first proclaimer of the resurrection of Christ. William Booth, the Moravi­an missionaries, D.L. Moody, David Yonggi Cho and others have affirmed their priceless role, place and power in missions. And history records the stories of many women who have made a tremendous impact on global missions: Mother Teresa, Mary Slessor, Lottie Moon and Amy Carmichael, among others.

Africa is still a masculine society and the Church is still waking up to releasing the power of women. A young woman called to missions may face rejection, legislation’s against women in gospel proclamation, family resistance, cultural limitations and other challenges.

I encourage every young woman called to missions to discover her place in Christ through the Scriptures. Find a group of secure and confident women who share in the missions/ministry call and draw strength from their support. African Women in Missions (AWIM) is a great initiative/network empowering, mobilizing and serving women in mission.

Is it important to find your life partner and marry before serving in mission? Will a young single missionary be taken seriously?

Marriage can be a blessing and benefit to those involved in ministry. And yet every missionary is complete, whether or not he or she is married. Stepping into your call should not be dependent on marriage. Marriage is rather dependent on certain variables: maturity (emotional and spiritual) of both parties; financial independence; clarity of purpose; need and not want for a partner; permission and consent.

Although a typical African community will accept the ministry of a young pastor or missionary, single people can face opposition. On more than one occasion I was refused a ministry opportunity because I wasn’t married at the time. Marriage attracts dignity, responsibility, acceptance, freedom to reach homes and much more.

Prosper recommends:

Single people should not be excluded from playing their role in fulfilling the Great Commission. Although you may face pressure to marry, such challenges are not insurmountable.

Is it true that older Christian leaders may see the younger generations as a threat? How can young leaders effectively bring about necessary change with grace and wisdom?

Insecure older leaders perceive and relate to gifted young leaders as a threat. But a tactless, disrespectful, zealous, ambitious, and proud young leader makes him/herself a threat to older leaders. The wisdom, resources, affirmation, relationships and graces of older leaders go a long way in helping young leaders fulfill their calling. Therefore, grace for intentional healthy relationships with older leaders is critical.

Older leaders may be accustomed to hierarchical leadership, while the younger generation craves inclusive leadership. Older leaders may be inclined to maintain traditions; younger leaders challenge the status quo and possess the flexibility that drives innovation. These realities present young leaders with tough choices, barriers and ethical dilemmas in bringing about change in the mission enterprise.

I would encourage anyone willing to have healthy relationships with older leaders – and to maximize the priceless blessings that brings – to learn to:

Trust older leaders. Don’t wait for it to be earned. Trust and trust until proven wrong. If you don’t trust them, they won’t trust you. Without trust there will be no meaningful relationship.

Prosper Recommends:

  • The Challenge of Missions (Oswald Sanders)
  • God s Women Then and Now (Deborah M. Gill & Barbara Cavaness)
  • Out of the Comfort Zone (George Verwer)
  • Missions and You (Reuben Ezemadu)
  • Youth and Missions (Paul Borthwick)
  • The Distant Boat (DVD)
  • Missions conferences and consultations (all levels)

Respect them. Respect the older leaders in your life. Intentionally honour them. Respect the institution that unites you, and respect yourself. Respect builds the bridge across the generational gap.

Take the posture of a learner. We are flooded daily with information, and knowledge accumulates at a fast pace! This can fuel the illusion of being superior to those whose knowledge and way of doing things seem archaic. Remember that you have much to learn from the invaluable experience of older leaders.

What helpful or wise advice about ministry have you received from an older Christian?

“The being precedes the doing.” I have heard this in different forms over and over from a few older leaders God brought into my life. This has greatly shaped my life and ministry.

2.4 Pastor I

Prosper Nkechukwuaga Isichei is founder of Threshold Christian Network International, a ministry focused on equipping and mobilising young people for the Great Commission.
He has been involved in youth ministry and missions mobilization for the past 15 years. At age 16 he had the opportunity to lead a teenage ministry/movement with more than 300 members. As an undergraduate, he was deeply involved in student ministry with NIFES, an IFES affiliate (then the largest student fellowship). He served at all levels, eventually becoming Student National Vice President. He was then a volunteer staff member for two years.
An ordained minister, Prosper served as a youth pastor 2009-2014. In 2012 he was appointed Pioneer Continental Coordinator for Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) under Movement for Africa National Initiatives (MANI). The primary aim of the ELN network is to mobilise African young leaders for mission on the continent.
Prosper is married to Blessing Onyinyechi, and they have a son, Nathan Nissi.

Prosper Recommends:

  • The Challenge of Missions (Oswald Sanders)
  • God’s Women Then and Now (Deborah M. Gill and Barbara Cavaness
  • Out of the Comfort Zone (George Verwer)
  • Missions and You (Reuben Ezemadu)
  • Youth and Missions (Paul Borthwick)
  • The Distant Boat (movie)
  • Missions conferences and consultations (all levels)
Other articles and resources from around the web on this topic:
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