Jerin Vakayil speaks about his encounter with Jesus Youth, its impact on his life, and the journey to a passion he had left behind.

Almost all of us at one point of time, having watched a movie would have aspired to have our name in the credits. From a very young age, my dream too was the same.

It was during a winter break that I came across a group of Jesus Youth in my parish in Kochi, Kerala, gathered together in fellowship. Although I had heard about Jesus Youth before, this was the first time I was coming in contact with the movement. I was a part of the parish youth in my place of study but Jesus Youth was no ordinary youth movement – it was a ‘lifestyle’. The six pillars of Jesus Youth were the difference between being a part of and experiencing it. From Jesus Youth I learned to watch the Holy Mass no more but to experience it. Prayer was no longer my demands to God, it became my personal chat with God. Fellowship didn’t mean having a lot of friends – it meant supporting each other in time of need. This lifestyle was an experience.

Having completed my schooling, I intended to join film school in any of the major filmmaking cities around the world. The more I learned about the industry the more I became passionate about media; but taking it as a profession, I felt would take me away from God. Around that time, a Bible verse struck me, Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness (Luke 11:34). Media influences the viewer and if I led viewers into darkness then I wouldn’t be worthy in front of my God. And the current media was more inclined towards money-making than what it was meant to do. So, I gave up pursuing media as a career and went on with engineering instead.

One summer I got a chance to attend a retreat, where I had a close interaction with Rev. Fr. Xavier Khan Vattayil. On talking about my career, he enquired about my passion. When I told him that I had left my passion behind as I felt it would take me away from God, he asked me, ‘Why can’t you use media for God?’ My immediate response was, ‘What can an 18-year-old do in the world of media?’ He replied with instances from the Bible where many people were called in their youth. He also told me of the time when he was inspired after watching a skit performed by Jesus Youth. This was something that changed my outlook towards youth and media.

I started getting in touch with many people who were involved in Catholic media. One thing I noticed was that most of the Ministries targeted an adult audience and very few targeted the lower-age spectrum. The youth wave of the spectrum was almost ignored. In the olden days, everyone was forced to watch whatever was telecast on TV but in this new age of the internet, we have plenty of options to select what we like to watch. All the more reason for Catholic content targeting youth.

Now comes the question, ‘What are the options in visual media for Catholic youth?’ and ‘Even if we do something will we have an audience to watch it?’ Now, this was the time when the web series The Chosen began airing. It became a hit and created an impact, showing that there was a demand for Catholic content.

So currently, I am working to bring out great content for youth.  Having been initiated into the Jesus Youth lifestyle, I no longer use media for my name but to spread the word of God through even the smallest possible way. I’ve got the opportunity to work on varied content and the knowledge that it has made a change in people’s life fills me with such joy that makes me want to do more.

Being a youth there are times when I have felt low myself but the fellowship in Jesus Youth is so strong that I have always been held up by my Jesus Youth friends. The love for Christ and one another keeps me going. At the end of the day, what matters to me is not the amount of content made or the number of views but that one video that would impact a youth. And that is all that my God wants from me. This is how the scripture says it, Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. (Habakkuk 2:2)

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