May 20, 2016
Dear Beloved Brothers and Sisters,
A vision for Youth Ministry
One day in January 2011, I heard God calling me to start a youth ministry. I doubtfully asked God, “Is this possible? I grew up in Hong Kong, and my English is not good. Will
American-born youth listen to me?” God replied, “I will make them listen to and accept you. Go ahead and do it!” My heart trembled. I immediately asked my Chinese American friend Katy for help, and I started to recruit young American-born volunteers and staff. In June 2011, I founded “RE:NEW a Presence movement.” Thank the Lord for His faithfulness—on January 22, 2017, we hosted RE:NEW’s fifth anniversary banquet. I would like to give thanks to all Presence staff and countless volunteers for their dedication to RE:NEW ministry over the years! RE:NEW encourages youth to search for their life purpose, to spread the Gospel, and to live out their identities as Christ’s disciples. For the past five years, RE:NEW has responded to the needs of this generation’s youth as they face different challenges in their faith through
Training in Apologetics
Presence has provided trainings on topics such as the sanctity of sex and emotional management to youth fellowships for many years. We also organized special meetings focused on defending the Christian faith. In response to the LGBT movement, we hosted “Love and Hope: Understanding Those Who Struggle with Same Sex Attraction” in 2009. In 2011, we responded to young believers’ movement away from the church by hosting a seminar called “Answering the Atheist.” Additionally, we organized a “Dating Seminar” in 2013 and several faith seminars throughout the years: “Understand Islam” in 2012, “Christian Worldview” in 2013, “Theology of Work” in 2014, and “Defending Your Faith” in 2016. Attendance ranged from 150 to 250 people at each event. Faith Seminar 2017 will be held on November 3 at Chinese Evangelical Free Church in Monterey Park.
Worship and Creative Ministry
RE:NEW provides a platform for youth to serve the Lord in creative ways using their God-given talents. Many worship and dance teams consisting of young people served alongside us at events such as the “Impact Praise Night” and “Café Night Fundraiser.”
The “Fearless Tour” in 2014—featuring Christian musicians AMP, GOWE, Mickey Cho, NAK, and MC Jin—was also memorable. About 20 RE:NEW volunteers participated in helping to set up these venues. Though certain tasks were challenging, these youth committed their efforts without complaining. What a display of teamwork and humility in the Lord!
We believe that parents, along with church leaders and youth workers, are the best mentors to young people to guide them along the way in this dark day and age. In 2012, 2013, and 2015, we hosted different mentorship training programs to equip youth workers with mentoring skills. We also published a handbook for high school and college students to be used in small group and one-on-one mentorship settings.
This handbook can be ordered online at RE:NEW’s website. A conference on intergenerational mentorship will be held on February 25 at LA Chinese Alliance Church in Alhambra. It will provide an opportunity for parents and youth workers to discuss the challenges faced by families and churches and to find possible solutions.
Creative Writing Ministry and Spiritual Formation
RE:NEW provides young people with a platform to engage in creative writing and life sharing. We have published magazines in response to the different challenges faced by youth today. To date, we have published six issues of RE:NEW youth magazines. Additionally, RE:NEW has a blogging ministry and has also hosted the “Forty-Day Impact Challenge” three times since 2013. We have also held various retreats throughout the years for volunteers and interns to grow together in the Lord.
In 2017, we plan to strengthen our blogging ministry. If you are interested in serving the Lord in this way, please contact our Publication Department.
Professional Career Counseling and Soft Skills Training
Many of the young people whom RE:NEW served in the ministry’s early years are now in college or have entered the workforce, and they are facing new challenges in life. In order to minister to them, we started “Presence Possibilities” in September 2013 to provide services to integrate career and faith. Our ministry areas include professional college major and career exploration and consulting, resume review, and interview coaching. In 2016, we added soft skills training for high schoolers, including managing relationships, emotions, stress, time, and money. We plan to extend our soft skills training to adults in 2017.
Future Plan: Life and Career Planning
Part of Presence’s overall mission is to build healthy families to live out Christ’s calling in today’s cultural context. Notably, we see and have a heart for the struggles of immigrant parents who are facing this dilemma. On the one hand, they wish to see their children grow up happily; on the other hand, they focus more on academic achievement, causing them to overlook communication issues and relationship building with their children. Many youth with immigrant parents perform well academically but still face many stresses in life, such as problems with cultural identity, sexual identity, intimate relationships, and spirituality. In addition, our economy is declining, causing more competition at school and work.
For those young people with higher expectations for their career paths, they are more likely to experience stress and disappointment. If these youth lack the ability to handle stress, their spiritual lives and overall well-being could be harmed. Presence and its ministry initiatives, including RE:NEW, are planning to develop an integrated life and career planning curriculum based on the Christian faith. This curriculum aims to help both youth and their parents navigate through challenges in today’s multicultural society so that young people can be better prepared for work as well as better manage their lives according to God’s will.
RE:NEW’s development over the years is a witness to the power and faithfulness of the Lord. Thank you for your contributions in the past. We hope you continue to partner with us through prayers, volunteering, or financial support.
Agnes Ip, PhD, LMFT
Founder and CEO of Presence
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology