Raising Expectations for Young Believers

by Erik Odegard April 10, 2017

Earlier this year, I had the privilege to visit two North African countries where Fusion teams are serving alongside International Mission Board missionaries.  This is the second phase of their Fusion experience; all the training these teams received at Midwestern College in the fall semester is put to the test in hard places among unreached peoples in the spring semester.  When I observed the work of three teams in two countries, I was struck by their usefulness in the long-term strategy of their IMB field partners.  And after I observed their capabilities, I began to wonder if we might expect far too little of the young believers in our churches.

Trusted with significant responsibilities

While this is not the case with every Fusion team, the three teams I visited were all entrusted with teaching English classes to locals.  These English courses provide legitimacy to the IMB field partners they work with.  In other words, these partners depend upon English centers to provide a government approved, culturally acceptable reason to live in their North African cities.  They trust these young believers, with minimal support, to teach the English courses upon which their long-term presence depends. 

Trusted with gospel labors

Fusion teams work under the church planting strategy of IMB and seek to make a significant contribution.  These teams in North Africa proclaim the gospel broadly and boldly as they use creative distribution strategies, relational evangelism with their English students, public evangelism in local shops and during everyday life, and intentional sharing during home visits.  The result is often rejection and opposition; however, the Lord has brought a number of people to inquire further and even to trust in Christ in these locations.  These young believers have taken ownership of new believers, helping to establish them in the Scriptures and lead them to obedience.

Trusted with growing in grace

While IMB partners are involved with the teams at varying levels, the Fusion teams I observed took responsibility for one another’s growth in God’s grace.  Individuals devote themselves to the daily study of God’s Word.  Two brothers hit their knees at 6:00 am each morning to pray for one another.  Teams meet for daily worship, sharing, confession, and prayer.  The loving confrontation of sin and active pursuit of reconciliation in the midst of daily conflict was ever present.  These young believers possessed a demonstrable commitment to personal and corporate growth in their walks with Christ.

Conclusion

These young believers are not exceptional.  These are typical 18-21 year olds who came from typical youth groups and typical churches.  Most of them are less than a year removed from high school graduation.  But with only a semester of intensive training and life-on-life discipleship, these young believers are used by God to advance His glory in hard, unreached places in humbling ways.  There are young believers throughout our churches who are capable to be trusted with significant responsibilities, gospel labors, and growing in grace.  I pray that we would recognize that God has gifted young believers for the edification of our churches (1 Corinthians 12:7), raise our expectations of them, sharpen them in training, and entrust them with significant tasks.

To learn more about FUSION, visit Midwestern College's info page