Parents have allowed technology to steal their kids

Ron Luce

Ron Luce is a youth strategist and chief executive officer of Generation Next, an organisation that specialises in youth development. In this chat with CHRIS IREKAMBA, he talks on the need for churches to do a lot more to save the younger generation from the corrupting influence of the world. He also shared with them Jesus Global Youth Day initiative holding in Manila, Philippines from August 8 to 10, 2019.

What is Generation Next all about?
WE are not religious, but we are in the business of promoting everything about Jesus. Generation Next has special interest in young people, how they should live their lives and successfully impact their future generations. We’ve discovered that most of the youths in the world are struggling, especially those within the ages of 25, some of them are without future hope. Even in some places where they call themselves Christians, they have no plans for these young people, no plans to help them secure jobs and become entrepreneurs, and so, we want to help them by reminding the older generation that we can’t fold our hands and watch these young ones perish without knowing Jesus. The focus on the church has not been on the younger generation all around the world and so our mission is to wake up church leaders around the world, whether Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal and others to wake up and help the younger generation to be useful to themselves. What we are saying is that as fathers, mothers and leaders in various churches our responsibility is to take the gospel to the younger generation.

Mission to Nigeria
You can have all other questions in life answered and still remain empty inside. So, we focus first of all on spiritual, and by so doing, we help the youths to ask the right question as well as get the right answer, which will help them find Christ. My mission here in Nigeria, for the very first time, is to meet with church leaders from different backgrounds. I have heard a lot about the church in Nigeria. I am so excited to be here to discuss the state of youths in Nigeria and Africa and see what we can do to help. The media in my country has destroyed a lot of young people all over the world including, Africa. I’m really ashamed of that and I really have to ask for forgiveness, because that doesn’t represent the best of America and certainly it doesn’t represent the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sometimes America is perceived as a Christian nation, but there are many unchristian things that have come out of our nation. I don’t think a nation can be a Christian, but individuals can. My purpose of being here is to listen to church leaders, see areas we can help, serve and do whatever we can to be a blessing to young people of Nigeria. And we are going to do that through inspiring the leaders on what to do to practically help young people in every village and town in Nigeria.

In addition to that, we are planning the first time ever Jesus Global Youth Day holding in Manila Philippines from August 8 to 10, 2019. We are hoping to be a blessing to Nigeria and all nations of the world through this programme. We are expecting youths and their pastors from every country in the world. It’s going to be a time of taking the gospel to the younger generation.

So, millions of young people are expected from across the globe to grace the event. We also have a special session just for pastors alone, this programme will help them to think on what they can do to empower the youths in their own countries. And we really think Nigeria is doing a lot of things right. There are a lot churches here that are focusing on young people and we do hope a lot of churches around the world can learn from that. For those who cannot make it to Manila, we are going to broadcast it all over the world and so, we believe that millions of youths around the world are going to benefit from the programme. We are expecting people of other religions as long as they are interested in Jesus. Pastors who are interested can hold a simulcast in their churches and gather the younger people in the church and community to watch the event on that day. So, we are preparing the hearts and minds of people to know that this is going to be an important event.

How do you intend to get 20 million young people to attend the event in Manila?
First of all, the people in Philippines are excited about the event and as I travel from country to country, the Philippine Evangelical Council and other interested groups are showing commitment. For instance, Indonesia is sending 5, 000 to Manila and they are also going to host about 200,000 at the hostsites in all nations of the world. The good thing is that you can leverage the event even if you don’t send a few thousands to Manila, you can leverage it to touch many lives.

If youths are gracing the event from Nigeria, who is going to sponsor them?
Generation Next is working together with the World Evangelical Alliance, Global Pastors Network, National Hispanic Leadership Coalition, Global Kingdom Pastors Network, Trinity Broadcasting Network, the largest Christian global television network, and Trinity Broadcasting Network Africa, which is based in South Africa, and several other big groups.

In terms of who sponsors it, that is why we are here to make the programme known to churches and see if there is something they can do to ensure they send their youths to Manila, venue of the programme. So, we are expecting that those who are interested can raise money to sponsor young people to grace the first ever Manila programme. This is the time to plan for it.

We have a mass area of downtown Manila that is reserved to accommodate these young people. We have also contacted agencies that would help in getting accommodation for our participants. The Philippine Evangelical Council, all subcommittees are working out the details to make this event a huge success. We would love to have some team from the country to come and spend weekend with us. On who the ministers/speakers would be, as well as gospel artistes we are speaking to a lot of people in this regard. We are expecting young people from all over the world. It is really under the banner of Jesus and young people uniting for their generation for Jesus. Now is the time for older generation to focus on the younger generation. We Christians have not been focusing on the younger generation, as we ought to. What is interesting about Nigeria is that more and more missionaries have been sent from Nigeria to other parts of the world to propagate the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, we want to learn from Nigerian pastors who have a heart for young people. What they have done or are still doing to spread the message of hope to the hurting people of the world.

Has the churchdone enough to give hope to younger generation?
My answer to the global church is no. By and large, there are only few places where they are really focusing on the younger generation and are giving them message of forgiveness, message of Christ and equipping them to live a meaningful life. Meanwhile, it seems like evil has increased everywhere. Hopelessness is increasing everywhere, horrible music, horrible movies, horrible things that should make Christian leaders to respond immediately are here. If evil is increasing, we must work harder to give hope, especially to younger generation; who are addicted to social media, addicted to television and movies. I have been to poor nations of the world and they all have phones. Now it doesn’t even matter how poor you are or how poor the nation is, the media is like a drug. It’s cheap and addictive, it imprisons the soul as well as preoccupies you from the real means of the souls because you are laughing or watching other movies or you are listening to music and that affects your heart or mind and if the world is working hard we Christian leaders must work harder to free these younger generation from these horrible things. If the world is doing all these for the sake of money; we must do every possible for the sake of the gospel and reach out to the perishing generation.

What has the church done to discourage same sex marriage, especially in America?
The church in America is in crisis when it comes to this issue of gay marriage and there are some that have lost their ways. There is so much pressure any time you say something is wrong they term it as hate speech, you are hated for it just for saying that something is wrong. You are seen as somebody who is not kind and loving. So, the churches are learning some new ways of talking about sensitive issues such as gay marriage. So, I feel that some churches say things like ‘we don’t address homosexual lifestyle or gay from the pulpit’ because that is the symptom and not the problem that Jesus didn’t address the symptom but He addressed the problem. So, we are going to arrest heart issue, as somebody falls in love with Jesus and learns His word that He can work out the symptom as He works on the heart. And so, that is probably the compassionate way to even address this kind of issue instead of being seen as a hatemonger.

Another disturbing issue is violence and proliferation of arms in the hands of teenagers. What is your organisation doing about it?
The social media has made people to become dysfunctional. Most of the young people who had done these things never had any affiliation with any church. Most of them are socially divorced from their parents. They might live in same house, I hope this doesn’t happen here in Nigeria, where young people put their headphones on and live in their own world, with no relationship with dad and mum. They live in same house, but there is a giant invisible wall between them. They feel so far away from each other, but they eat food from same table, but they are living in a house of strangers. They are on their journey online, they have these fake friends online, which is also a big problem facing young people and I hope this is not happening here in Nigeria. Parents feel I have no control and meanwhile, these young ones are going astray. These children are on the phone all the time, texting, tweeting and their parents are not doing anything to correct them. Parents should be bold to correct their children, especially if they are the one paying the bill. But very often you hear the child protesting ‘I have the right to do what I want.’ And things like that.

So, my advice to parents here in Nigeria is that they should remember you are the parent and you can give your children guidelines on what to do. So, I encourage dad and mum not to allow technology steal their kids. These kids create serious and fake relationship online and have no relationship with their parents and whoever they relate to must have stronger relationship in their lives. Most parents feel helpless. Parents should not allow the media steal their kids because it’s worst than drugs in many ways.

Is there anything that your organisation has done to particularly address this issue?
We believe that you deal with the heart issues, we rather win the person and let God work out the argument in the heart. And becoming a Christian is a spiritual thing; I wasn’t perfect when I came to Him. None of us is righteous and you can’t make yourself perfect. Sin is sin and nobody like to be accused you did this or that. As you learn of Him, He perfects those things. One of the biggest things I’m ashamed of is that too much media comes from America. People truly grow up thinking they are gay; they really believed they were like that from birth. And the reason is because of what they were exposed to in life. And so, it is planted in their mind that they are really gay, when they are not. My heart is broken because they have invented a new word known as ‘gender dysphoria’ and so, some are wondering in their hearts ‘I’m a gay or not.’ All because the media has continued to promote all manner of crazy things in the country. For example, what can you say of parents who treat their little boy like a girl and have allowed him to live his life that way.

The boy is 10 years now so far he’s got a long hair; they call him a little girl’s name. And so, we have all this transgender confusion going on in America and we are exporting all this around the world. If somebody thinks he/she is attracted to the same sex or opposite sex I’m not condemning them. I have never seen such confusion in my life. Take the case of a boy who is really attached to his mother, his father never showed him any love, he never says ‘I love you son,’ he never hugs him and never kisses him on the cheek but as he grows up he feels there is a wall between him and his father. But every healthy human needs affection from dad and mum. If you don’t have a healthy affection from your dad, you’ll try to create one. You grow up craving for unhealthy affection. You grow up thinking you are attracted to gay and so a situation like that needs understanding.

When we have issues like this with young people, we let them know what is right and wrong. It is not wrong for one to be loved every one wants to be loved and the inventor of love is God. So, the best way to teach somebody is to let him/her discover the truth about something. We have tried to educate the young people, especially those who are not living that kind of lifestyle. For 30 years, we have travelled in America holding the largest conferences but the secular media is so much powerful. But God has enabled us to reach out to so many young people with the gospel.

What should churches do to stem this ugly situation in America’s God’s own country?
I think churches, pastors, and our job as leaders should be to educate parents and young people. Teach them the scriptures, what does it mean to train up a child in the way of the Lord? They should teach the young ones to use the media appropriately. For example, you can’t say: ‘You can never watch Tv’ but if they got a little opportunity they watch it, rather teach them to have a moral compass. So, that when they see things that are not good on the screen they should be the one to say no, I can’t watch this. Church leaders should teach young ones how to make wise decision about social media, movies, music and not just food. These things I mentioned steal away the young people’s dreams.

As you go back to America what lessons are you taking from here?
I have been inspired by what I saw and how the Lord is moving here, as well as my interaction with some church leaders in the country. I hope to take the good ideas that the church is implementing here and to equip the church all over the world to be effective in reaching out to young people and training them as well.

In this article:
Ron Luce
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