In 2021 Woman’s Missionary Union and the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board launched the Tennessee Youth Venture Team for high school students actively involved in missions and interested in a missional lifestyle.
Team members go through a year-long missions discipleship process, including a retreat, mentoring and Bible study, noted Kim Cruse, who works with Tennessee WMU.
Participants are given resources and equipped with knowledge and skills to enable them to influence and lead their peers to be intentional in living a holistic missions lifestyle, Cruse said.
Reaching another culture
This summer a Venture Team traveled to Batangas City, Philippines, to reach out to their peers in a culture much different from their own. They worked through the International Mission Board’s GO IMPACT program for teenagers.
The team was led by Cruse — who along with her husband, Jeff, director of missions for Grainger Baptist Association — was an IMB missionary in the Philippines for 22 years before returning to the United States in 2019.
For the Cruses, the trip to Batangas City was a return “home.” The Venture Team served at Connect Church, where the couple worked as missionaries with local universities.
Connect Church was established to reach students and disciple and equip them to be missionaries in their own settings, the couple said.
Jeff noted that some 10% of Filipinos work abroad.
“By training those students, they were able to lead Bible studies and share the gospel with people from other countries,” he said, adding Connect Church never became a large congregation, but hundreds of students were trained to share the gospel.
“I have seen the power of the gospel to transform people’s lives and give them a purpose,” Kim added.
Impacting multiple generations
Jeff noted some of the students who came through Connect Church and stood firm for the gospel and a relationship with Jesus were persecuted by their own parents. But some of those parents also became believers.
The couple acknowledged that not all their experiences were “success stories” but they sowed “a lot of seeds” along the way.
“We are seeing fruit 20 years later through multiple generations,” they agreed.
For more information about Tennessee Youth Venture Teams, contact Cruse at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Lonnie Wilkey and originally published by Baptist and Reflector.