9th March 2012

25 years on the ship

Followship, Yellowship and Fellowship!  I’ve heard people call our group by various names throughout these years. What all of them got right at least was the ‘ship’ part. And perhaps not just by chance. I can liken my experience of leading Youth Fellowship to being on a ship. The interesting thing however is that I’m not the captain!

A question I’m often asked is whether I planned things so that Youth Fellowship would become the organisation it is today. My simple answer is ‘not remotely’. To be sure I always wanted the ‘ship’ to go places but in hindsight had I known where it was heading, I might have easily done the ‘Jonah thing’ and headed in the opposite direction. Yet in God’s providence it didn’t happen that way and today we are grateful to God for what He had done throughout these 25 years.

The ‘crew members’ of the vessel have changed as the years went by. Yet both the present and past ‘Service Team’ members and many others in the Cenacolo Community have dedicated a lot of time, energy and prayer to keeping the boat seaworthy. I take the opportunity to thank them all. After all building a Christian community where we could welcome people is what ‘fellowship’ is meant to be all about. Despite our less than perfect results, Youth Fellowship has been and still is a place where many youth and young adults can come together and form good Christian friendships. Considering we come from such diverse backgrounds, experiences and ages, we still marvel at the grace of God who can bring us together and form us into a family of believers.

The ship has sailed through amazingly beautiful waters and indeed it has been more than ‘we can ask or imagine’ (Eph 3:20). Perhaps there is no greater satisfaction than to see that in some way the Lord has used us to bring others to know His love and truth and to grow in their relationship with Him. We have seen His love, truth and healing break through in our own lives and in the lives of countless others so many times that it sometimes leaves us overwhelmed.

Yet we know that ships also pass through stormy waters, ours is no exception. There have been occasions when I made my own the words of the disciples, who when the waves threatened their boat on the Sea of Galilee, cried out:

Lord don’t you care if we drown?
Mark 4:38

Maybe under the little breath they had left they may have added: after all it was His idea to go over to the other side. Surely Lord you knew that there would be a tempest.

But Jesus never promised us a pleasure cruise and in these years on the ‘ship’ we’ve had our fair share of personal and communal ‘ups and downs’, disappointments, moments of weakness and frustrations. Yet Jesus was on the ship with us all the way reminding us that ‘peace’ is not the absence of suffering and turmoil but trusting wholeheartedly in His Presence within them when they come.  And this is why personal and communal prayer with God have been the foundation of all we do here at Youth Fellowship and the most important topic we teach on.

Why? Because the captain of the ship is Jesus. He is commander of the whole fleet, the Church and we are but just a small part of. Our part is to remain faithful to His call and to obey his directions. So far the journey has been exciting as well as challenging. We do not know all the ports of call but sail on we must for ships were not designed to stay in a harbour.

As we look back at the past with gratitude on the occasion of the 25th anniversary we also look to the future with hope. For Youth Fellowship needs to remain God’s workmanship

Created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Eph. 2:10

And we are always looking for recruits to come on board!