Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the year approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them’” Eccle 12:1

~ Rev Mansang Songate

The bible had shown much interest and care for the youth since the Old Testament time. Isaiah talks about youth. In the book of Daniel, we find God’s wonderful intervention in the lives of Daniel, Sadrak, Meshak and Abednago who became Old Testament heroes. They were all young people. When David was anointed for a king he was just a teenager! Proverbs talks volumes about youth and how to live a correct and rightful youth life. In fact, the whole book of Proverbs seems to be written for youth. The Psalmist talks about how youths could lead a holy life and be in constant communion with God. Ecclesiastes talks in detail how youth should live their life and be prepared for judgement at the end. In the gospel, we found that Mark was a young and vibrant enthusiast. Even the other disciples were in their prime life of their early thirties. Jesus’ good friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus were all young people. The legion was a young man. Barnabas and Paul were perhaps, in their early thirties. Timothy was just in his early twenty’s. Youth and children are central in the bible and are in God’s central plan too.
    
In a digital age today, there are much more important reasons as to why priority should be given to the youth in a Christian ministry. Let me just sum up in a nutshell as below:
WHY YOUTH ARE IMPORTANT
  #  1.8 billion Population worldwide today (Out of 7 Billion population)
  #  465 million youth in India alone (That is above 40% of the total population of 1.2 billion)
  #  About  1 million youth committed suicide per year (Between age gap of 13-34)
  # There are at least 126 million child labors worldwide
  # Girl child rape is estimated at 150 million (WHO report)
  # 43.8 million abortions reported annually (That is 1 out of 5 pregnancies)

TODAY’S YOUTH AND CHALLENGES
   · Self seeking and pleasure seeking
   · Wanting to experiment new things
   · Open to new ideas and new learning
   · Teachable, only if approach correctly
   · Easily bored and disappointed
   · Trying to find solace in friend and love to make own decision
   · High self esteem and thinks they know all! Hostile attitude and restless
   · Repeated change of likings, easily influenced and led a stray
   · Drugs use and alcohol consumption high. Substance use is for pleasure
   · Disengaged, loss and lack of seriousness

DEPRESSSION IS HIGH AMONG YOUTH.
The Youth Risk Behaviour Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors six types of health-risk behaviours that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults, including - (Sources: Jason Foundations)
  · Behaviours that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence
  · Sexual behaviours that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection
  · Tobacco use and Unhealthy dietary behaviours
  · Inadequate physical activity

YOUTH SUICIDE STATISTICS: (Source: Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention)
   #Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24. (2013 CDC WISQARS)
   #Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for college-age youth and ages 12-18. (2013)
   #More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth   defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.
    # It is most alarming as it is still NUMBER ONE YOUTH KILLER today!
    # Four out of Five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs
    
The Youth Risk Behavioural Surveillance System (YRBS) is a survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that includes national, state, and local school-based representative samples of 9th through 12th grade students. The purpose is to monitor priority health risk behaviours that contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth in the United States.
    
The surveys are conducted every two years to determine the prevalence of these health risk behaviours. Behaviours that contribute to unhealthy lifestyles and those that indicate possible depression and/or suicidal ideation are included.

Suicidal behaviour is a major health concern in many countries, developed and developing alike. At least a million people are estimated to die annually from suicide worldwide. Many more people, especially the young and middle-aged, attempt suicide.
LGBT (Source: BBC-UK)

Young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) are more likely to suffer from suicidal thoughts than their straight friends, according to a new survey titled ‘Youth Chances’. The LGBT support charity Metro, asked 7,000 16 to 24-year-olds across the UK about their experiences. The results suggested rates of self-harm were also higher in young LGBT people and that they were more likely to need help with depression and anxiety than heterosexual people of the same age. The survey found that 42% of young LGBT people have sought medical help for anxiety or depression.
    
Conclusion: In the light of the above highlighted issues and given facts, I would like to encourage churches, philanthropic organizations and all NGOs to come together and initiate serious attempts to address to this NUMBER ONE YOUTH killer now! Till today, many church groups are just distance spectators perhaps, either due to ignorance of the issue or lack of empathy. Most of the churches have its own youth wing or youth department, most of which are with autonomy. Suicide issue is one major challenge the youth group alone could not handle and tackle it themselves. The church should create awareness to the masses and to the youth in particular. Parents and school teachers should be taught and trained in suicidal behaviours and trends by mainstreaming the issue in the church’s priority and program lists rather than being busy and playing in shallow water with the old and traditional issues inherited a century ago!

            
I would like to exhort the youths and for that matter, everyone, that taking own life will never solve your problems. Only cowards and those who could not face life’s challenges head on took their lives! Whenever such thought emerges, be aware that it is the design of Satan and his lieutenants to end your life shamefully and to bundle you down to hell. Why should we die as a coward and glorify Satan by shaming our own friends, loved ones and relatives! You live only once to face life’s challenges and shine. That is what we are created for. God says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord’ “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future. Then you will call me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you” Jeremiah 29:11. Trust God, He has plans for you, never to harm you but to give you hope and future. So, why end own life?

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