Second, learn to do your best to contact the young people. Helping the young brothers and sisters depends not on your ability to give them messages but on your regular, frequent contacts with them. When you contact the young brothers and sisters, do not begin by asking, “How many chapters of the Bible have you read today? Have you prayed?” Such questions should not be brought up until you have had many contacts with them, maybe even after eight or ten times. Remember not to talk about spiritual things at the initial contact with them. It is even more so in dealing with an unbeliever. Do not talk about the Lord Jesus when you first contact him. The reason you refrain from mentioning the Lord Jesus is that as you maintain contact with him, seemingly you are retreating, yet actually you are advancing. You need to sense his feeling until one day you can impart the gospel into him. Then you will be successful at once. However, if you do it prematurely, it is easy to cause a negative reaction. If you mess up the whole thing, he may not receive the Lord for his entire lifetime. It is the same in dealing with any young person. Do not stir up his negative feeling by talking to him right away about reading the Bible or praying. You must wait until you have more contacts with him and he feels that he likes you and that you also like him. Once you have touched his feeling and earned his trust, then you can begin to talk about spiritual things. This is like giving the right prescription for an illness. With the right medicine, the illness will be cured. Then you can expect to see a result.
Third, when you help the young people, do not give them a lot of doctrines; instead, give them something practical. You should not put too much emphasis on doctrines, not only when you have personal contact with them but also when you are preaching the gospel or giving messages to them. If you give them only some doctrines and they come only to listen, there will not be much effect. The more you speak doctrines, the more the young people become dead, cold, and backsliding. Because young people have many practical problems, you need to sense their feelings beginning with these problems. Therefore, you need to spend some time to study the problems of the young people in their practical living, including problems both before and after their salvation. Based upon your studies, when you preach the gospel or speak a word of edification to them, what you speak is practical and is related to the practical matters that you have touched in their lives.
Fourth, you need to have positive faith in every young person. This means that with the good ones you should believe that they will get better, and with the ones who do not seem to be good, you should also believe that they will become good. Moreover, you should have more faith in those who are seemingly not good and believe that they will become good and not have as much faith in those who are good.
I like to tell you, brothers and sisters, that we are all Adam’s descendants, a fallen race. Even the children of godly people are fallen. We cannot say that to be fallen is right, but please remember that all those who truly know God’s salvation were once fallen people. If a person has been preserved since his birth and has never lived in a fallen way, he cannot have a deep experience of God’s salvation. One who has never lived in a fallen way cannot experience God’s salvation. I am not encouraging people to be fallen. Neither am I encouraging them to be loose with their children. This is not what I mean. What I mean is that you should never think that it is all right to despise certain young ones simply because they are not good. This concept is wrong.
We know the story of George Müller, a spiritual man in the nineteenth century. He was clear about his salvation probably when he was twenty-one years old. He was born into a Christian family, and his father was a man who feared God. However, he was a very fallen young man before the age of twenty-one. He always stole money from his father to roam about from place to place. Once he stayed in a hotel, but because he was not able to pay the fee, he was even sent to prison by the owner of the hotel. At that time he was truly a dissipated and corrupt person. But one day the Lord found him. As a young man, after he was saved, he became one who greatly loved the Lord. If you look at George Müller before he was twenty-one, he was such an improper person. Who could ever have imagined that after he was twenty-one he would love the Lord so much and be so spiritual? Therefore, you cannot judge a young person’s future based on his situation today.
Brothers and sisters, I can tell you that whether the condition of the young people is good or bad, usually it is not trustworthy. Today you may consider a certain young man very bad, but one day he may become very good, contrary to your view. In the same way, today you may think that a certain young man is very good, but some day he may become very bad. Therefore, all those who have some experience in the young people’s work will say, “We don’t trust in the young people’s condition. On the positive side, however, we fully believe that God will gain them one day.” This will deliver us so that we will not work only on the young people whom we consider good and put aside those whom we consider bad. Actually, sometimes it is hard for those who are consistently good to have spiritual perception, and often their growth is slow. However, if you spend time on those seemingly bad ones to turn them around, their spiritual understanding will be opened immediately after they have made a turn. This shows that those of us who do the work among the young people should not trust in their present condition. Do not believe either in their good condition or in their bad condition; believe only in God’s work. No matter how bad one may be, we still believe God’s work can turn him. No matter how poor one may be, we still believe God’s work can carry him through. Because we have such a positive faith, we pay attention to every young person.
(How to Lead the Young People, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)