Submitted by Evelyn Portillo, Bell, CA
As I think of the challenges in the life that generation Z is facing today my heart goes out to them in prayer and hoping God's mercy for their lives. However, as I take a retrospective look, I noticed this generation has been facing challenges since they were very young or just newborns. This generation started around the time our nation lived through the tragedy of 9/11. They are the generation that has had to learn what a financial crisis is, the ones planning their own college journey with the possibility of facing the cruel reality of student loans, they are the generation who might not be able to have a memorable prom or graduation day.
What makes them resilient and to continue to move towards their dreams, goals, and yet hold a servant's heart? I identify the Generation Zers in our church with a four-letter word H-O-P-E. They know that in the darkest moment hope will lead them through life.
The song titled "Hope Has a Name" by River Valley Worship describes it as "Hope has a name, His name is Jesus." When we are able to surrender to God our gifts and our talents with a humble heart and seek the good of our community, we experience joy, gratitude, and the knowledge that life is bigger than our own world. That is the lesson our young Generation Z has taught our Hispanic urban church in Southern California, in the very small city of Bell. Our church consists of three generational groups that gather together to worship a God that transcends communities, cultures, and languages. These young adults have allowed their youth/worship pastor to guide them in this time of need that our church has encountered. Many of them left their school campuses on March the 13th, not knowing that would be their last day on-campus for the school year. Others had to face the cruel reality that they would become another number in the unemployed list, others stopping any social outings and becoming confined to their homes attempting to separate their work and personal life. In the midst of their fast changing world they have stepped up to surrender their gifts and talents to serve their source of HOPE, by being the community that brings worship services to their older and younger generations. Today we have been able to see the fruits of the seeds that have been planted from the older generation leading the church to the younger generation that is becoming the leadership of our church. They are the ones who provide our worship at church so we can praise God via an electronic device, they are the ones creating amazing videos, surrendering to God their musical talents. They are the ones who are able to serve God with their voices, their technology insight, and their artistic minds and talents. These young people too are the ones who have been able to join with their precious generation and create amazing classes for the younger generations ranging from preschoolers to elementary, middle school, and high school.
In the midst of their peak of happiness and celebration to see this come alive on a weekly basis once again their world was invaded by the wrongdoing of evil in the world we live in. Just days before we celebrated one of the most glorious week of our Christian faith, an individual broke into the church facilities and stole some of the technology pieces needed to continue with these productions as well as taking with him several musical instruments these Gen Zers worked so hard to purchase. This community of believers with their youth/worship pastor had to trust once more on the lyrics of a song that has been a theme to their worship "Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper Light in the darkness". The most amazing thing happened they were empowered with HOPE and FAITH, in that they had to be resilient and they worked with what they had as people from our congregation donated to continue to receive God's message following the church schedule service. This unfortunate event helped our youth think outside the box and work harder to fine tune their skills.
Yes there's still a learning curve for them in life and unfortunately things might not get easier for them in life but if they continue to identify that the name of HOPE is Jesus, they too will be able to overcome the world.
My prayer is that this generation and the generations to come will be able to have such HOPE and FAITH, that they will call upon Jesus, may they be able to identify Jesus as their Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, Light in the darkness. May Christ Jesus be the one who restores, confirms, strengthens, and establishes them until the day He returns or they are called home. - Amen