A group of approximately 20 enthusiastic young members of the Youth Back to God (YBTG) movement ministered to vulnerable people of all ages at the Emmanuel Centre in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth last Saturday.
Their goal in conducting services for a group of preschoolers and disabled teenagers and a second group of elderly residents was to “attract people back to God and to reflect the glory of God” said Pastor Fikile Mabhula, 33, who founded YBTG in April 2013 together with his wife, Solethu.
He said he has worked with young people at church for as long as he could remember — first with people of his own age and then as a youth leader when he grew up. As a youth leader he recognised the call to reach out with the gospel beyond the walls of the church and he prayed for a wife who would share his vision.
His prayers were answered. Fikile and Solethu got married in 2011, worked on their shared vision in 2012 and launched the YBTG movement the following year.
Response to moral degeneration
He said YBTG was a response to pervasive moral degeneration in society which affected young people profoundly through news and social media. Young people were getting caught up in violence and drugs and other vices and were not getting strong moral guidance from government leaders, celebrities — and sometimes even gospel artists failed to reflect what it really meant to be a child of God.
He said the heart of the movement was based on two things — firstly to attract young people back to God, and then once they have turned back to God to reflect the glory of God back to them so that they could understand the importance of godliness coupled with the importance of being with God from a young age.
“We believe that the best way to tackle moral degeneration is not to fight people but rather to attract them to God and when they are back to God it is God himself that will convince them of what was convicting them,” he said.
YBTG catered for a younger group aged from five to 13, and an older group aged 13 and above. They met at the Mabhulas’ home in Motherwell on Saturdays. The movement was interdenominational and everybody was welcome, he said.
They focused on the Word of God and activities that young people enjoyed such as dance and drama and music, which took them them away from ungodly influences and also equipped them to reach out and be salt and light in the world.
Manifest presence of God
On outreaches they trusted God to manifest Himself “because it can’t be the work of the team it has got to be the manifest presence of God that leads to transformation”.
“What we say is that you should do your best and leave the rest to God,” he said.
On an outreach like they did last weekend they explained to people they visited that they were not there to entertain but that whatever they did, whether it be preaching or dancing or giving gifts of food and clothing, was aimed at leading people into an encounter with the living God.
“We emphasise that they must not focus on us as Youth back to God but rather see God through all that has been done,” Mabhula said.
He said parents of disabled children were deeply touched by God last weekend. One woman was crying because she had never experienced something like that. Likewise elderly people came alive in God’s presence and got involved in singing and dancing.
“With those things you just want to keep on doing them because you see the impact that it makes. They say that a little is much when God is in it,” he said.
He said YBTG was planning a bigger outreach in December and was currently writing to companies, seeking funding to give away better gifts than they have given to date — like mattresses or something bigger.
Fikile Mabhula can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 083 424 9453.