Spotlight 16/2018: “Where are You, God?”

Mastering daily life, finding a good job, being successful in life—such are the wishes of our young people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, these requests often remain unfulfilled, unfortunately. — Our young brethren in faith are asking for the assistance of God. District Apostle Tshitshi Tshisekedi (Democratic Republic of Congo Southeast) responds.

The summer holiday season in the Democratic Republic of Congo was a good occasion for us to further explore the theme of the year: “Faithful to Christ”.

One of the biggest concerns of our young people is their future in a socially and economically difficult environment, where they are confronted with major challenges on a daily basis, just to position themselves in society.

With such constraints looming before them, they often begin to feel guilty, and at times even look for special solutions to their problems. They analyse their spiritual life in church, and ask God why their situation has not yet improved.

Naturally, we do not have a patent recipe for finding solutions to their woes, but we do have some food for thought to help our youth continue to trust the Lord.

This youth gathering was based on a Bible text in Matthew 19: 20 and was captioned by the motto: “I will walk in faithfulness to the Lord.” Despite all the issues listed above, the young people are called upon to “continue walking in faithfulness to the Lord,” because observance of the commandments alone will not suffice. Following the Lord is indispensable for our salvation.

All the future concerns of our young people are summarised in the response of the rich young man to the Lord: “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”

However, this is not miracle formula to which one must simply add the missing ingredients in order to arrive at the final solution. Rather it is a call to continue to follow the Lord Jesus. Like Him, we must be humble, patient, and joyful—and practise love for our neighbour.

Be humble

The tendency of our youth is to want to list all the things they have already done in the work of God—the sacrifices they have brought, the strict implementation of the teaching they have received in the divine services, the selflessness they have practised, and so on—only to arrive at the question: “After having done all of this, why are things still not working out for me?” Those who are humble will not make such a list. They will not blow their own horn like a hypocrite, but will continue to commit themselves quietly, knowing that their dedication to the work of the Lord will never match the commitment of the Lord when it comes to our salvation.

Be patient

The speed at which modern science progresses can sometimes threaten our relationship with the Lord, for example, when we ask Him to take care of everything for us at light speed, as if by fibre-optic cable. At times we hear our young people say, “I am at the end of my patience,” but the Lord reminds us that only those who endure to the end will be saved. If our salvation means anything to us, we will endure, and not count the time that we have spent in the work of the Lord.

Impatience may also lead our young people to engage in spiritual bartering. Unfortunately, in our Congolese environment, there is still such a form of barter: “If you want to get married, then abandon your New Apostolic faith. Share my faith and I will marry you. If you want a job, join my denomination. If you want success, forget these stories about the Apostles, and I will show you a shortcut to arrive at your goal more quickly…” There are many who pursue such offers, who are prepared to exchange their faith for social advantage. But our salvation is worth more than a pottage of lentils!

Be joyful

Many in the circle of the youth have lost their joy. They make their way through their difficult surroundings as though paralysed. They have become older and say they have been overwhelmed by the events in their lives. They are in despair with regard to their future. They try to tell us that being successful requires influential contacts in society, in order to “link them up”, which in their jargon means nothing other than finding “contacts who can make their natural lives better”. The paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda had been waiting for this human contact for nearly 38 years. He never received this, but when the Lord passed by Him, he found the solution to his problems without the need for the pool. Jesus is not there in order to make our natural lives easier, but our complete trust in Him will help us to overcome disappointment and concentrate on the goal of our faith. The lacking joy diminishes our status from that of a practitioner to that of a believer.

Practise love for your neighbour

If I carry on this way, I run the risk of saying that I first want to find a solution to all my concerns before I show any interest in others—even though one of the recommendations the Lord makes to the rich young man is to “love your neighbour as yourself.” What bothered the rich young man was not the prospect of selling his possessions. After all, he knew the rules of commerce well enough to know that the “win-win” principle always applies—but Jesus was asking him to give to the “poor”! This is the challenge, namely to give to those from whom we can expect nothing in return. It is possible for anyone to forget about himself a little and take time to care for others who also need salvation. This appeal applies to all of us: we are all to deepen our efforts to spread the gospel and testify of the work of the Lord in the Apostle ministry today. Our neighbour may also be in the beyond. This is just a little reminder to ensure that the divine service for the departed also becomes a priority of our faith once again.

In contrast to the rich young man, let us today respond to the Lord in a manner similar to Mary, when she told the angel: “Behold the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.” May each one of our youth be a soul who is always prepared to serve the Lord! That is my wish.

Photo: Oliver Rütten

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Tshitshi Tshisekedi