Helping youth grow spiritually
Sarita Ebbin is not involved with Christian youth work for recognition and accolades. So when the 32-year-old found out she won New Testament Church of God’s Spiritual Youth Development Award during the 70th Annual Island Convention on November 15 it came as a complete surprise.
She calls it an “unexpected honour” and admits she was overcome by gratefulness after learning she was named this year’s female recipient.
Ms Ebbin has been involved with youth work and helping young people to foster their spiritual growth for more than ten years.
“I’ve been in the church my entire life, but in my early twenties I really started working with young people while I was in law school in London, England,” she said.
“It started when I got involved with the dance ministry at my church in the UK. I love working with youth, they are unreservedly honest and they help to keep me young, but most importantly, being able to help steer a young person away from antisocial behaviour, or helping them to find themselves and their purpose in life and in their faith, it’s an awesome opportunity.”
Ms Ebbin is the daughter of Pastors Rudolph and Lynette Ebbin. Still, she found her parents always encouraged her to foster her own unique relationship with God.
Growing up in church, she always knew how to “do church” well, but it was not until her university years that her relationship with God really strengthened and developed.
“That’s when going to church, reading my Bible and praying became choices I made for myself — not because I wanted to be able to answer my parents in the affirmative if/when they asked if I had done those things, but because I wanted to do those things for myself,” Ms Ebbin explained.
“During those years I found myself wanting to experience God more and more which gave me the desire to build my own solid and personal relationship with Him.”
Today, Ms Ebbin serves as the National Youth and Discipleship Director for the New Testament Church of God in Bermuda.
She was appointed to the role by Reverend Dr Lloyd Duncan in 2013, and now heads a board of seven other individuals tasked with overseeing youth programmes and activities at the church’s various locations on the island.
The role does come with its challenges.
It can be difficult catering to the various age groups (toddlers up to young adults) while also keeping initiatives fun and interesting.
They combat this by asking for input from young people themselves and working their hardest not to be stagnant.
“We’re always looking for new ways to share God’s Word whether that’s with youth convention, which includes a talent competition that is open for 5 to 25 year-olds, or a bonfire discussion with our teens and young adults,” Ms Ebbin said.
Today’s young people have to contend with so much, which is why Ms Ebbin has become a fierce prayer advocate in recent years.
“I pray for the safety and security of our young people, and I don’t just mean the young people of New Testament, but all of the youth of our island,” she said.
“I pray for their minds. I wasn’t bombarded with the internet and social media when I was a child. I played outside. I wasn’t forced to mature before I was ready. So, I pray for their minds; that they’ll be strengthened and protected and guided.
“Our youth are the future of Bermuda. They will be the ones to take care of us in our old age and we have a duty to ensure that we give them the tools to take the mantle and excel.”
She says being in this role has, without a doubt, taken her faith to a new level.
Ms Ebbin is regularly asked questions by young people “so deep it causes [her] to go searching in the Bible for the answer”.
“My time in this role has been a constant reminder that God has a purpose and a plan and He does things in His timing even when you think you’re undeserving or unqualified,” she said. “I learn and grow daily, and I am enjoying the ride.”
Her hope is that young people will always know God has got them. “Even when you don’t feel Him in your situation He’s there,” she said.
“Don’t lose hope. It’s difficult being a young person who is trying to walk with God and live a certain way, so my advice would be threefold: Firstly, don’t forget to read your Bible and pray so that you strengthen your personal relationship with God.
“Secondly, find other like-minded young people so that can help to encourage you, especially when you’re feeling weak. These same people can help to keep you accountable.
“And lastly, find a church home and get involved. If your church doesn’t have a programme that you would like to be involved in, don’t complain, request permission to start that programme yourself.”
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