When I was 16 years old, I once started talking to a woman who worked as a pedagogical employee in youth detention. At one point I was allowed to watch this woman’s work for a few days and also talk to the young people. During the conversations I was touched by the home situations that the young people told me about. At the end of the day I walked outside, tears running down my cheeks and my thoughts full of misunderstanding and anger. I was confronted with injustice and hopelessness, but also with my love for young people. A longing, a dream arose in my heart. I wanted to make an impact in the lives of as many young people as possible.
October 17, 2009, two months after my visit to this youth detention, I gave my life to Jesus during a Youth Alpha. I discovered and experienced so much of the love God had for me and realized that this is what the young people I met were missing and need to discover. Together with a group of friends, I started organizing Bible studies and within a few months we were sitting in a small living room with 30 young people and holding youth services where dozens of young people met God. A few years later, at the age of 19 , I was involved in the start of an Evangelical church and became responsible for youth work. Years in which I have experienced a lot with God and saw my own family come to faith.
It was beautiful, but in retrospect I couldn’t bear the responsibility I had. I collapsed under the pressure. When I now think back on that time, I made a lot of wrong choices, did the wrong things and gave bad advice during those years. I felt like I had to do it alone and I didn’t dare to admit my mistakes, because then I felt like I was failing.
Back to basic
When I started seeking God during this time, I read the Bible text from Philippians 2: 12b – 13: ‘ Continue to strive for your salvation, fearing God deeply, for it is God who wills as well as does in you. brings about because it pleases him .’ This text made me aware that I had to work on myself because I got my identity from what I did. I no longer only worked out of deep respect for Him, but especially for myself. I had to go back to basics, back to being with God and start working from there. God wanted to shape my character. I left all my church duties, called a man I trusted and asked him if he had time for me and would invest in me. I needed someone I could turn to and who could help me without condemnation, out of love.
For three years I struggled with myself and with God. That involved a lot of crying and asking forgiveness from people I had wronged. But it was precisely in those moments that I was also allowed to discover many beautiful and new things. During these years, God has worked on my character and deepened my relationship with Him. I discovered that I want nothing more than for Him to be the basis of what I do and for Him to be faithful to what He promised in Philippians 2: ‘ He works in me both to will and to act ‘.
And now, 12 years after the first conversations I had with young people, the dream of having an impact in their lives is still very much alive. I dream of a generation of young leaders who will do what God has personally called each person to do. That is why I want to invest in young people and young leaders. I believe we all need someone. Someone you can learn from, who coaches you with love, who dares to give feedback and with whom you dare to be open and honest. To become more like Him together and to be faithful to what He asks of us.
In September we will start a new school within Royal Mission. The School for Young Leaders. Are you or do you know someone between the ages of 18-28 and are you curious about what the School for Young Leaders entails? Then quickly check the website School for Young Leaders – Royal Mission