Throughout the world, community is built around food. When it comes to hanging out and connecting with teenagers, food is an essential ministry tool. But underneath the frappés, pizzas, and cookies, lies a foundation of friendship and faith, rooted firmly in God’s love for the kids.
David “Daudi” and Cathlene Strong have been feeding and fellowshipping with Peruvian youth since 2010. They hold meetings in their home two Saturdays each month. Roughly six to eight youth, ranging in age from 12 to 22, attend. The group is currently studying Old Testament heroes of the faith. (I wonder if King David would have liked pizza?)
In addition to food, youth group always includes a devotional and often a game, object lesson, and/or craft. The youth also usually participate in an outreach project each Christmas with the adults of the church. Upcoming community outreach ideas include volunteering at an animal orphanage and cleaning up trash in local neighborhoods.
“About half of our youth are unchurched, and more than half come from broken homes,” shared Cathlene. “They are exposed to a lot of negativity in their lives. We want to expose them to the truths of the gospel and show them Jesus’ love in tangible ways so they will recognize their need for a Savior. Lord willing, they are taking what they learn in youth meetings and sharing it with others in their homes while applying it to their own lives.”
The youth group also expands its community and witness through relationships with family and friends.
“Every now and then, we hear from parents of how the kids are sharing with them what they learned in a youth meeting,” stated Cathlene. “This encourages us that what we are teaching and sharing is being heard and passed along. I also see our unchurched and church youth interacting with each other on social media. Slowly but surely, the gap is being bridged between these two groups of youth, and community is being built.”