The 2018 Youth Ministry International Summit in London was the first time we met our new YMI family all in one place. We had a great time seeing everyone face-to-face, hearing reports from the field, and praying for youth around the world. My wife and I are currently in the support raising phase of our missionary journey while I complete my coursework for a Master of Divinity degree. For us, the Summit was a time of refreshment and assurance while in the company of people who have been right where we are in our new journey. The theme of the summit was unity, and we instantly felt a team camaraderie as we work together toward the common goal of reaching youth for Jesus through training the trainers of youth leaders all around the world. Participating in the summit fanned our excitement for our survey trip to Southeast Asia immediately after our time in London was over.
Ever since we were teenagers, serving long-term internationally has been on our hearts. For us, the picture of missionary work that usually came to mind looked something like living in a mud hut in the middle of the jungle while trying to learn the language and plant a church! But, this was certainly not the image of life and ministry we received in the city where we ourselves will be based! The city we visited was very developed and quite westernized. While church-planting “in the bush” still has great value, our twenty-first-century context calls for training and equipping missions to the majority-world church in the more developed cities such as the one we visited. The mission of YMI is to evangelize and disciple the world’s youth through the local church by training the trainers of indigenous youth leaders. The most strategic place to do this work are the cities which function as regional travel and trade centers.
One thing that surprised us was how easy it was for us to get around. Technology such as international cellular plans, credit/debit cards, and companies like Airbnb and Uber has made it easier than ever to get around in many international contexts. With that said, no amount of technology can completely negate cross-cultural stress. The first time we heard the Islamic call to prayer blaring outside our window at 5am was quite literally a wakeup call! While some brands and conveniences might be familiar, we will be living in a different culture requiring both lifestyle adjustment and contextualization of our youth ministry training.
Throughout the trip we spent time getting acquainted with this new environment, meeting many people, serving at a local youth ministry, and assisting in teaching a youth ministry class at the local seminary. As our time there progressed, God gave us a bigger and bigger passion for the people and the context. A highlight of the trip was getting to know one of our YMI-trained youth pastors who is doing an amazing job serving his church and reaching youth for Jesus. Our prayer is that God might use us, even in a small way, to help raise up more youth pastors to reach the 1 billion young people in Asia who do not know Jesus.
Joe and Cori Grom are YMI’s newest appointees and will be joining the Kaptain family in serving as YMI trainers in Asia.