Surely, JY groups are excellent cradles for grooming youth talents and leadership

‘I am from a backward fishing family and grew up facing all kinds of deprivations. But, none of that stopped me from dreaming.” Sabin enthusiastically narrated his personal journey. Three things he ought to pray whenever he visited a new Church – his father always told him. And he would pray faithfully – for a high-quality camera; that he would be the best cinematographer; and to do some great media work. If anyone had heard about these big dreams of a poor boy from a sea-side village in India, they would have laughed. So, he never told anyone about it. “The great turn in my life happened with my coming into an active Jesus Youth group. Now I am only 23 and, can you imagine, talent wise, professionally and by way of having opportunities to handle expensive equipment, I have done marvelously.  All this happened through the unimaginable opportunities and contacts I get in this movement.”

I met Sabin in the context of Covid 19. To tell you a little background, many months back Kerala Jesus Youth leadership wanted to develop some clear plans for different talent groups. Main leaders of JY Music, Dramatics, Art and Media started meeting regularly.  I never missed any of those extremely interesting Emmaus Gatherings. They planned a big ‘Talents Meet’ in April. Then came the bolt from the blue, the Corona Virus. All were confused about the future of these plans. But then, discussions were shifted to online platforms and, once again, everyone became busy and enthusiastic. Leaders, once again, began meeting together and trainings for specific skill-areas were organized separately, all online.  This young-man Sabin is a front-runner of the media section and, after one such meeting he was sharing with me about his background and the importance of grooming talents in Jesus Youth style.

Like a nursery for young plants

I remember, one of the first trainings we had was in February 1978, and we proposed a preparatory work for the participants. They were coming from 16 zones and each group was to come prepared with some creative presentation. Those of us from Ernakulam prepared a musical drama entitled ‘The Call’. And youth from each zone came with different presentations. These were very small steps, but one thing was clear, when many other renewal groups were focusing solely on prayer and preaching, Jesus Youth groups reserved a special place for talents. What was the vision behind it? Discovering various God given talents and creating platforms to develop them was as important as growing in prayer and holiness.

‘Jesus Youth ‘85’ was an unforgettable event for almost everyone, not only because of the very interesting preparation that led to the program, but more because of the unexpected color, sounds and mirth in it. The whole crowd came alive with an awareness and display of talents. From that time onwards every Jesus Youth program has been an opportunity for many talent specific groups to gather, dream, practice and present something beautiful.

When young people come into Jesus Youth everyone of them see something fascinating: musicians see many excellent music bands starting with the Rex Band, art enthusiasts witness different kinds of exhibitions and beautiful stage arrangements that youth do, those who like dramatics and dance notice highly creative skits and dances, those who want to try their hands on writing see how attractive brochures and magazines like Kairos are born through youth effort, and when they go on online platforms, there too are innumerable signs of Jesus Youth creativity.

In brief, many youth who come to Jesus Youth groups see plenty of avenues to develop their talents and that too with a clear focus and mission. The result is, over the years so many talented experts, attractive initiatives and men and women of high leadership emerge out of the movement. There is something here that help build people in personal excellence launching them on to a path of continuing growth. But what are some of these talent promotional elements in the movement?

  • For a person, his/her walk with the movement starts with someone introducing Jesus and spirituality in a creative and interesting way
  • When they come to groups, they receive much support for inner maturity and to overcome personal conflicts, this in turn unleashes one’s creative energy
  • While in most other places one’s talent or usefulness is focused, here the attention is on the person and his/her wholesome growth
  • Programs and conferences become easy canvases for using of talents, with rich variety and abundant freedom
  • There are a lot of opportunities in the movement, even freshers, to move closely with experts of different professions, in a warm and friendly setting
  • As there is almost zero material remuneration or reward, even professionals don’t receive any payment for the work or take credit for excellence of output

Before he put the phone down Sabin told me, “Eddy chetta, today’s youth spend unbelievable sums of money to study their dream courses, and then run around for a mentor or an opportunity to try their skills. I couldn’t afford any of that. But in Jesus Youth groups I got unimaginable opportunities. Conferences became best forums of skill training for me.” While out there in the society youth must impress everyone to get an opening, in Jesus Youth there are not only rich avenues, but here all are so helpful and accepting. Here even experts will tell you, ‘Try your hand and don’t be afraid to commit mistakes!’ One thing more, many highly talented youth end up in bad habits and addictions, ruining their career. But in Jesus Youth you are provided with a safe shield, a shield of faith and healthy habits of mind, heart and body. Finally, he said, “this is the reason why I try so hard to bring my talented friends to Jesus Youth. And I want them to stick on here.”

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Dr Edward Edezhath, one of the pioneers of pioneers of Jesus Youth gives us a glimpse of the growth of the movement