“What I like about these youngsters is that they are just like any other youth, but get to know them closer, and we find some excellent stuff in them.” This professor was not sympathetic to anything spiritual on the university campus. But watching a few Jesus Youth leaders working there, changed his attitude. The reason? They were just normal, and not ‘over-the-top-spiritual’.

‘Normal Christian life’ has been a phrase that has been dear to Jesus Youth. Being normal and ordinary, yet different in a deeper way – can be something fascinating and at the same time quite challenging. And in these columns, we have been asking what this could mean in the life and mission of the movement.

Two: Using normal, ordinary language

A friendship group is perhaps the best place to mould and groom a person; especially so if the group has informal ways and continues meeting for a long period of time. For many of us from the early days of the movement, the First Line Group was just that. Everyone would wait eagerly for the monthly meetings where there was such joy and freedom. And when there were conflicts and misunderstandings, there were simple ways to resolve them and build up the fellowship.

Through the First Line group a network of dependable leaders and youth initiatives got built up. It was this group that dreamed of and organised “Jesus Youth ‘85”, that lent the movement its name. But more than anything else, everyone in that fellowship would fondly remember how it formed each of us. A lot of unwinding took place during those gatherings, through informal interactions and guided sharing. From rigid and serious personalities, many of them turned into simple, joyful people. This group taught them that it is OK to talk and act in simple way, and helped them give up many masks.

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Dr. Edward Edezhath, Cochin,India
Dr. Edward Edezhath, Cochin,India

Dr Edward Edezhath, is one of the pioneering leaders and animators of the Jesus Youth movement. A senior lecturer in St. Albert’s College, Ernakulam, India, he lives with his wife is Audry in Cochin, India. They have three children, Ralph, Nicole and Aidan.