Milton Gay, Mesoamerica Regional Youth Coordinator
What motivates you to work with youth?
My passion to work with youth comes from Jesus. I was 20 years old when I came to know him as my Savior. I needed help and encouragement from someone who could walk with me and help me through times of crisis and need, but I couldn’t find anyone. Adolescence is a time of life when we are vulnerable, and we respond to invitations, good or bad. This is also the time that youth assert their identity and shape goals for the future. Although this can be a restless or even rebellious stage, this is the perfect time for youth to respond to the heart of God.
I am motivated by youth who serve humbly without complaining. I love to see young leaders serve the Lord with a passion for the lost. Not only do they give their best, they give everything they have to the Lord. They love the church and their friends more than anything. I see they have awesome aspirations for their leaders and for their church. Youth respect their leaders when they feel their leaders sincerely love them and care for them.
Finally, because of Jesus, my own teenage children motivate me. He doesn’t want this generation to be lost. The power and love of the gospel is how we will reach and prepare a new generation of leaders that will be strong and full of the Holy Spirit.
How many years have you been in youth ministry?
I have been serving the youth for 23 years at the district and local level in El Salvador. I have served as a missionary for 11 years — two as the coordinator and president of Regional NYI in Mesoamerica — and these have been the most wonderful years of my service for the kingdom of God.
As pastor and superintendent I always believe in the youth and their potential, which is why I continue to work to prepare, equip, and train youth to respond to the ministry, and show other leaders the potential the youth have to serve.
What is the best book you have read relating to youth ministry?
I have had the opportunity to read some wonderful books, such as Ministerio Juvenil con Propósito (Purposeful Youth Ministry), Agorafobia (Agoraphobia), Generación Emergente (Immerging Generation), and Soy Líder de Jóvenes, y Ahor Quién Podrá Ayudarme (I am a Youth Leader, Now Who Will Help Me?). But one of the most comprehensive books in youth ministry is by Felix Ortiz, Pastoral Juvenil en Profundidad (In-Depth Youth Ministry).
It is important for youth leaders to discover that they have many up-to-date resources that can broaden their knowledge of youth culture and themes, such as leadership, discipleship, and evangelism.
What’s the best advice you can give a youth leader?
Work in a team: Do not work alone, and do everything with the right motive, which is bringing youth to Jesus and not to yourself.
Develop leaders: Form leaders and learn to work with a vision of being inclusive in sharing the ministry.
Be a coach: Be a good listener and help youth to build their own futures, empowering them in their lives and decisions.
What’s the best advice you can give to parents of youth?
To be involved in the life of their children and to be a part of the youth ministry. They can form a team with the pastor or youth leader and work together to develop the healthy spiritual lives of the youth.
To be models and mentors for the next generation and be a part of their formation in leadership and their spiritual life.
To support their children in their dreams and desires and help them reach their goals and objectives.
What would you like the church to know about today’s youth?
That this is their world and we need to understand them and help them know the love of God in their lives. I truly celebrate the youth who attend church and are responding to the call of God, because although it is true we haven’t been directly impacted by post-modernity, we have been influenced by this movement through the media and it is promoting values completely opposite from those values us adults have today. Therefore we ought to study and train ourselves with the youth ministry academy materials NYI has on the Mesoamerica Region to minister to youth and reach this new generation.
Even with all the difficulties the teenage years bring, the church ought to love them, care for them, believe in them, and challenge them, because they are the church of today, not of the future.
The church ought to give them space where they can develop and serve the Lord with meaningful responsibilities.