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  • Writer's pictureLarry Neville

The YOUTH are about to CHANGE the WORLD

I was in Hong Kong a few weeks ago, it was one of their holiday weekends. The city should have been packed with tourist and shoppers from China and all over Asia, instead the stores were almost empty and most closed early in the afternoon. This is in a city where normally the shops are open until late at night and the street are always filled with people. This time the streets were mostly empty of shoppers and the public transportation was shut down because tens of thousands of youth were demonstrating in the streets.

What seemed to start as a peaceful protest against a proposed legislation to extradite people from Hong Kong to the Mainland of China for trials has escalated over the months into violent demonstrations demanding more changes. I spoke with a local friend, it seems that everyone has their own theory on what this is about or who or what governments may be behind the violence.

Perhaps there is no-one but the youth behind this.

My son sent me an article from the UK news, “The Guardian,” I have linked it here for you, it is worth the time to read. Especially the caption of the article grabs your attention, “About 41% of the Global Population are under 24. And they’re angry . . . “ It goes on to describe the youth demonstrations that are going on around the world, right now as you read this.

I have been in some of the poorest places on earth and watched as youth were looking at their smart phones, their Facebook and Instagram images of people who are now “friends’ in wealthy countries living the “dream.” I could sense the feelings they were having as they saw the lifestyles of these people. The longing in their hearts for some kind of HOPE that they might get a decent job, live a healthy life, have a few possessions, have a real house . . . I could also sense the dissatisfaction within them. That is why I say, the world is changing. What previously was normally confined to a country or even a city or a campus is now, global. Anyone, anywhere can view and react in realtime.

Don’t think this is going to by-pass America.

I can remember a generation of youth who burned the American flag, demonstrated on University campuses, marched and dropped out. It does not take much insight to sense the same solidarity of spirit here to the youth I saw in Hong Kong and the ones who are demonstrating around the globe today. The Global youth seem to be like the California landscape, just one spark and a wild-fire breaks out.

This could present the greatest opportunity for the Global church of Jesus Christ to reach the largest generation in the history of the world.

My brother and I were young preachers during the late 1960’s and 70’s while our generation was going through a transformation from demonstrators to drop-out Hippies, to Jesus People. We went to Los Angeles in 1968 starting our “evangelistic’ ministry, yet missing what God was doing at that very time. We were young ourselves and caught-up in an entirely different culture, “the church.” We would walk down Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood when it was packed with 1000s of Hippies and our dress, our attitude, our music, our vocabulary was totally another world even though we were the same age. We were not the only ones, most of the churches we went to not only had no concept of what God was doing, but they also rejected and shut their doors to the new Jesus People. Thank God for those few who recognized what God was doing and responded resulting in the greatest harvest of souls in the past 50 years.

Do we want history to repeat itself?

Well, yes and no. What I don’t want is to see is this generation of churches miss our opportunity to reach the largest generation of youth in the history of the world. What is going to happen with this generation will totally eclipse what happened in the Hippie and Jesus People’s generations.

The problem today is that most of the church is old, much like the churches I preached in when I was a youth. Usually, the older folks do not want the kind of church the youth want. The music the Jesus People brought to the church was rejected and preached against at most churches. The way they dressed was ridiculed from most pulpits. Pastors and churches were the most critical of the Jesus People Movement.

What must we do?

1. Open our Eyes Most of the leaders in our churches are old. Our youth pastors are old. Even most of the popular worship teams today are getting older. When I say old, I mean over 24 years old or just old in thinking. Maybe, I should say, “religious” in our thinking. I know, because that is how I was in 1968.

2. Change While we can’t change our age, we can change any wrong attitude. If you have a judging, critical attitude toward the youth, you will never be a part of this next move of God.

3. Pray We can pray for the teenagers and youth in our churches and globally. Pray that God’s purpose is revealed and fulfilled in this global movement that is only beginning now.

4. Take Action Impart vision. Empower and release youth to be leaders in the church. Trust youth to start new ministries. Send youth to plant new churches. Encourage them rather than discourage or try to control them. Some friends in Hong Kong told me, “These kids are doing what we should have done when England returned Hong Kong to China, but we were too interested in working and making money.”

This can very well be a wake-up call.

Declaring to the world and the church that this generation of youth are not happy and they are not going to sit back and wait to see what we do. They are on the move. The world is watching in realtime. These sparks around the world are about to become, “Global Wildfires.” I am determined to be one of those leaders who sees what God is doing and responds whatever the cost. Won’t you join me . . .

Have a challenging Monday . . .

Larry Neville


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