God’s love always extends to those who are often unseen and undervalued by the world, as he chooses what seems foolish to the world in order to make his kingdom known.
“They don't argue with you. They don't object to you. They just pretend you're not there,” one young woman in Kyrgyzstan wrote about trying to connect with adults in her own country and talk about the issues that worry her and other people her age.
In a government survey, many of Kyrgyzstan’s young people said they were “afraid of the future or uncertain about tomorrow.” They feel like they have no voice, that no one is listening to them, that no one cares about their concerns and fears.
Teens and young adults represent a substantial portion of Kyrgyzstan’s people. Half of the country’s population is under the age of 25. UNICEF noted, “Youth in Kyrgyzstan live in an environment where poverty and unemployment are widespread - affecting over 40 per cent of youth - economic opportunities are limited, access to public services is poor, corruption is pervasive and opportunities to make their voices heard in public or private are scarce.”
World Challenge’s partners in this region, however, know that God loves and wants to reach the next generation.
One of our partners explained how God has touched her life through her work with the youth in her town. She and her husband had started a youth group, and it was an unexpected success. A lot of teenagers were coming to their group. She wanted to help them, but she felt intimidated trying to explain the Bible to these teens. They had questions about God that she didn’t believe she had the wisdom to answer.
Feeling overwhelmed, she began bringing them to the church to let the pastors and local leaders take care of their questions. However, many of the teens didn’t feel like they had the same relationship with the church’s leadership as they did with her. Almost all of them stopped coming, and she was broken-hearted.
God’s calling for her, though, remained. She noted, “My pastor told me that this was my flock. God had entrusted them to me, and I should take care of them. My pastor assured me that they would support me in this journey with everything I might need.” She and her husband decided to try again and asked God to help them.
Now our partner has two groups of different ages, and her husband has his own group of teens as well. They study the Bible together, memorizing portions of scripture. She also teaches these young people different life skills they will need down the road and offers them a place to openly discuss their thoughts and worries. Although the path to this youth leadership was very intimidating at first, our partner feels blessed by witnessing God’s work in her life and by being able to reach her country’s next generation.
She said, “I wrote this testimony as an encouragement for other group leaders. Don't be discouraged! If God sends people to you, he will give you everything else too.”
The reaching of these young people may one day have an enormous impact on the country of Kyrgyzstan; they are often uniquely positioned to reach their peers with the gospel.
One teenager, nicknamed Pirog, shared this testimony: “My parents are divorced, and they’d divided us four kids between them. My sister and I remained with our dad, and our mother took our younger siblings.” Depressed over the fracturing of the family, Pirog was in a bad spot. “At that point, my relatives invited me to go to Christian camp with them. My sister and I immediately agreed.”
While Pirog was skeptical about God, the camp’s speaker shared a personal story that hit too close to home. “The preacher shared about his parents' divorce and how God restored the relationship. I talked to my counselor, and he told me the Bible’s ‘Big Story’ about reconciliation with God.” Pirog decided to trust this story and immediately felt peace and joy. “When I got home, I couldn't keep quiet about what had happened to me. I told the ‘Big Story’ to all my classmates and friends on social media.”
Their response wasn’t what Pirog anticipated, though. “To my surprise, only a few of my friends understood me. But I definitely see and know that they all need God. I started going to a home group to understand more and know how to bring my friends to God.” The faith in reconciliation with God and, hopefully one day, with family continues to drive Pirog who wrote, “Pray for my faith that I would have stronger faith and have wisdom on how to communicate God's salvation to others.”
God is reaching the hungry hearts of Kyrgyzstan’s youth, and through them, he could bring healing to a nation.