Religion is an all-encompassing factor in one’s life across the world. Probably, religion exerts one of the most profound impacts upon our thought and behavior. Among the tribal population too, religion is deeply interwoven in their entire social life and the religious belief systems shape most of their social behavior. Unlike in the modern society, religion poses no problem to the tribals of Manipur, who have increasingly become Christians.
My faith journey with the tribal youth began in the year 2011 when I was appointed as the Animator of Jesus Youth at Don Bosco College, Maram. Since then accompanying the Youth on their Journey as Missionary Disciples has been a magnificent expedition for me.
I realize that there is an insatiable hunger in the youth—a hunger for love, for truth, for meaning, for belonging, and for purpose that the current culture cannot adequately satisfy. This hunger is gratified only in friendship with Jesus Christ—a friendship that leads to Jesus youth family and to fruitful sharing of love and care for one another. Jesus Youth strives to lead people, especially the youth, to a renewed life in Christ, assists them in their growth in holiness and prepares them for the apostolate in communion with the mission of the Church.
The Jesus Youth movement helps people promote a personal relationship with Christ and experience the love of the Father under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The world is rapidly changing as a result of global secular trends such as increased use of technology, global mobility, instant communication, and rising atheistic scientism. As a result of it, young people, though full of life, are experiencing many challenges. In tune with this trend, unfortunately, the youth of the North East are also struggling with their faith life and family life.
Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, they are confused, ask questions and seek meaning. They long to encounter Christ, and they wish to get someone to walk with them in their search for meaning. They aspire to have a first-hand experience of God. In this quest for meaning and experience, the six pillars of Jesus Youth help them to be person centered on Christ.
The movement encourages the youth to encounter God through the sacramental life of Daily Eucharist, confession, personal prayer, Reading of Bible, fellowship gathering and outreach to the needy. Nature, service, witness, friendship, acts of kindness, hospitality, silence, creativity, art, and music are interwoven in their life style.
Jesus Youth works to cultivate in its members a life of missionary discipleship, urging them to become joyful witnesses to the Gospel in the contemporary world. It invites the youth to become a missionary disciple of Jesus Christ. They become missionary disciples when they seek to witness and serve those most in need, beginning with those close to them. My engagement with the youth has helped them encounter Christ in their personal life. I found many youth who had gone astray now turning to Christ through this movement. Accompanying them in their own place and time has led to joyful missionary witness.
Walking with the youth meant meeting them where they are and welcoming them into an environment where they feel at home, where they share and dialogue about their ideas and questions, and where they share gifts in ministries, service, and leadership.
Relationships with other Jesus Youth groups across the world develop into deeper friendships as we journey together in faith.
Indeed ‘Jesus Youth’ represents joy, vitality, and fullness of life encountered in Christ!
Sr. Bindu Thomas CCV
Maram, Manipur, India