THE HISTORY OF YOUTH MINISTRY OF FMPB
There is a great potential in young people. They are like dynamite. Dynamite can do great good when it is used in the right way for the benefit of mankind. In the wrong hands, it is used to take life, often thousands of lives. Young people have the same potential for good or bad. The history of Youth Ministry in FMPB and the involvement of young people in missions is an amazing story who were used by God in World missions. The growth and expansion during the past 40 years were very thrilling. God has been raising people and movements throughout history to accomplish the task of World Evangelization.
There is a decline in the number of people coming to ministry. It is because of modern life style, different kind of teaching about the mission, lack of proper understanding of Mission. Information about missions is not passed on to the young people. The time we spend with the young people has became very less. Missionary meetings are occupied by some other entertainment rather than real Mission challenges. We should not under estimate the strength of youth in the church, either. Why is there such strength in our youth? They are idealistic.
There are worlds to conquer, battles to win, deeds to be done. They have not yet learned what can't be done. Moreover, because they do not know what can't be done, they often cannot achieve great things. They have boundless energy. They seem to never tire in whatever work they passionately believe in. They don't tire like the rest of us who have done enough that we often feel like we need a rest. We have to handle them with care.
‘Friends Missionary Prayer Band’ began a youth movement and wishes to be a youth movement forever. God used young passionate people of God to start this organization. To continue with young people‘s involvement FMPB initiated a separate Youth Department in 1973. During the Pongal holidays in 1973, a special youth camp was organized at ‘Muyal Theevu’ of Tuticorin.
The name of the conference was ‘Ilaignar Palayam’. Mr. Mallians and Mr. P. Samuel were the guest speakers. Nearly forty young people committed their lives for full time ministry. Mr. Kingsly Arunodhayakumar was appointed as a youth worker to do the follow up ministry and mobilize young people for Missions. In 1979, the Youth office was shifted to Tiruchirapalli and other wings like Revival wing, Women and Children, Prayer Wings were started during the same year. In the eighty’s Rev. John Kirubakaran joined the youth ministry for a short time. In 1981, the following target was fixed for the youth wing. It was decided to lead 1000 young people to God and 250 youth leaders to be developed and to find 50 young people go as Missionaries. In 1982, Mr. Stanly Prince took charge of Youth department as well as the Revival department based at Trichy. Mr. Vasanth Joseph joined him to help in the youth ministry. Many youth meetings were conducted in many districts. In 1983 Mr. E. Rajan, Ms. Rubella Simon and Ms. Glory Robert joined the youth ministry. From this time the youth ministry had a paradigm shift in doing the follow up ministry. Thousand Youth rallies were organized in many districts of Tamilnadu. Goer’s Camp, ENTRUSTED Camp for full time committed persons. Follow up letters were sent immediately after the meetings, for those who have accepted Jesus as personal saviour, people who have recommitted their life and people who have committed for soul wining.
Special letters were sent to those who have committed for full time ministry. Youth workers visited them personally to help them join in Mission. In the month of June 1984 Mr. Emmanuel Ranjith Singh joined the youth wing. In addition, during the later part Mr. Ashok Vedhanyagam joined the youth department. Importance was given to form youth prayer cells. Young people were encouraged to pray for the missionary activities. As a small group, young people were taken to mission fields for exposure. It gave missionary motivation, as a result some ventured to go as Missionaries others became Prayer Group Leaders. Special training programmes were conducted for the Youth Prayer Group Leaders. YBBC (Young Bold Believers Conference) were conducted in many places. Much important was given to follow up work. Follow up letters were sent to all who have attended the meetings. Youth staff visited the youth to pray and encourage them. Monthly prayer letter was sent to all the youth prayer group leaders. There were more than 3000 active youth prayer cells. In Tamilnadu, State Annual Conference was organized and nearly 1000 young people participated every year.
Separate sessions were conducted for them. During the Santhiya Meetings, many people committed their lives for full time ministry. Due to immediate follow up work, most of the people are still today with FMPB as missionaries. Many part time staff worked in the Youth Wing. Before sending, the full time committed young people to the training centers, some were given opportunities based on the impending need at the youth wing and they were allowed to work in the youth department for a short period. From 1990 onwards, Mr. Ashok Vedhanyagam took in-charge of the youth department. Office was shifted to Chennai. Four families worked in the newly formed Youth and Navodaya Team Ministries based at Chennai. They are Mr.Ashok Vedhanyagam, Mrs. Sheila Vedhanyagam, Mr. Rampert Ratnaiah, Mrs.R.Mehala Rampert, Rev.E.Rajan, Mrs.R.Christy Rajan, Rev. Emmanuel Ranjith Singh and Mrs. Vasanthi Emmanuel. In 1996 youth ministry of Tamilnadu was divided in to two major areas, North Tamilnadu under E. Rajan family and South Tamilnadu under Emmanuel family. In the meantime, for follow up ministry a monthly prayer letter for youth prayer group leaders were started in the name of ‘Kerith’. Ebenezer GS Peter joined Chennai youth office as a casual volunteer after his marriage, he worked as a Missionary in Jharkhand among young people. He took charge of North Tamilnadu youth office in the year 2002. Rev.E.Rajan family was relieved for promotional ministry and Missionary Training Centre at Jhansi. After relieving Mrs. and Mr. Emmanuel for the promotional ministry, Mr. John Yesduvadian and Mrs. Niruba Yesuvadian took charge of the Youth department, they are continuing the youth work with Trichy as their base.