By Jessica Belwood

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep." John 10:11-13

Working with the Deaf youth is the one of the most difficult things you can do in your life. At times, it feels like a rewardless, thankless job. You sow seeds in the lives of young people, and once they graduate, you don't know for sure if they'll bloom and they will follow Christ. You have to teach the same thing thousands of time to them before they finally understand. You might have to wrestle with the school administration. It feels like you want to pull your hair out finding interpreters for the teenagers when they attend church.

You often sit patiently and listen for hours about their dating life and how they know their 26th girlfriend is their soulmate for the 26th time. You might experience rejection, animosity or drama in your youth group. All the work you pour in your teenagers at summer camp might feel like it is flushed down the drain once they return home to a dysfunctional family. You might even experience a personality conflict with a fellow youthworker, or unwillingly nurture an ongoing grudge. Being a youthworker is one of the most challenging opportunities out there, indeed.

Jesus said that He is the good shepherd. He is, indeed. He tends after His flock, feeding them and protecting them from the lions and wolves. He is faithful to all of his sheep. He will leave his flock to look for just one lost sheep. His heart is wholly invested in his flock. Just like a passionate owner of a business. The owner would pour in hours of work. He would invest his own money into the business. He would do everything he can to make the business succeed. He would enthusiastically search for business models, products or ideas to improve his business. With an owner like that, it's clear that his heart is in the business.

However, an owner sometimes needs to hire employees to help run his business. Would the "hired hand" (verse 12) display the same degree of devotion as the owner? Would the "hired hand" be willing to make personal sacrifices for the sake of the business? Probably not.

Jesus said that he doesn't even want one of us to perish. His heart was ripped out seeing those He loves, remain in bondage to sin. He came and sacrificed His life for us to protect us and give us new life. Would a regular human being be willing to do what Jesus did for us? Probably not. The first thing we might do is to run. Jesus also warns us about the "wolves".

What are the "wolves" in the youth ministry that steal away the sheep? Unfamiliarity with the teen culture... insecurity with the Deaf culture and sign language... frustration with other youth leaders or with the teenagers themselves... frustration when the teenagers don't show up... passivity in sharing our lives and His Word with the teenagers... not taking care of our own relational and spiritual health... fear of failure... distractions from the mission... and many more!

Are we, those in ministry with young people, all in it just like Jesus or do we approach ministry like the hired hand? What happens if we see a "wolf"? Would we run? Or would we defend the "sheep" with the passion of a Good Shepherd?

May we be strengthened to face and fight the "wolves" in the youth ministry to the Deaf. May we be encouraged when we face difficulties in serving the Deaf youth, for we can take in comfort that Jesus faced difficulties in serving the people and have overcome.  We are cared for by the Good Shepherd and draw other sheep to our loving, strong Lord. We approach this mission with passion and commitment. We will do our best to care to the sheep entrusted to our care. AMEN

comments powered by Disqus
Enter your search term and press the return key on your keyboard.