2021’s Western Youth Institute goes ‘Lite,’ tune into week 2 virtually
Each Friday in August, youth from across the West can gather, whether online or in small local groups, to attend WYI Lite in community.
Part two of four, see part one here
The second week of Western Youth Institute Lite (WYI Lite)—the Territorial Youth Department’s online retreat for young adults—focused on how God leads people out of darkness into light, with Territorial Candidates’ Secretary Captain Jennifer Masango bringing the message. The meeting also included a segment of WYI News, the complete story of the Bible in animation, and a time of praise and worship.
WYI Lite meetings are happening every Friday in August via the Saynetwork Facebook page and Youtube, and are available for groups to download. Along with Jennifer Masango, featured speakers include Chief Secretary Colonel Kelly Igleheart, Territorial Program Secretary Lt. Colonel Lisa Smith and Territorial Youth Secretary Captain Emmanuel Masango.
Week 2’s opening Scripture was from John 8:12: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
Here is Jennifer Masango’s message along with follow-up study questions and a prayer exercise.
WYI Lite Week 2: Message
Have you ever felt hopeless? Have you felt like you were walking in darkness? Everything around you was depressing with no hope? For some of us this past year could be described as hopeless and dark. Reports say that depression is at an all-time high. Counselors are being sought after more than ever. Honestly, I can say I’ve been challenged this year, too.
Will you join me in a word of prayer? Father, we thank you so much for today. I thank you, Lord, that even though we’re on video, you want to speak. Help us to open our hearts, open our minds, to what you have to say to us today. We love you, Jesus. It’s in your name we pray. Amen.
Today I would like to talk about Peter. He knew darkness, but experienced Jesus as the light. You see, Peter in the Bible was one of Jesus’ closest friends— a disciple, a student to Jesus. Peter’s personality was a go-getter, full speed ahead. When Jesus asked questions, Peter was first to answer, first to give solutions and first to get in trouble with his answers. He was a gung-ho, confident, get things done kind of guy.
I invite you to open your Bibles to Matthew 26:31-35: Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’” Jesus was referring to being arrested. “But after I have risen I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“Truly I tell you, Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
The story brings us to the night of Passover when Jesus and his disciples are eating the Passover meal in the Upper Room. This was a dark night. Jesus says, “Tonight you will all fall away,” but Peter says, “You know I would never; I would die for you.” But Jesus tells him, “Even before the morning, before the rooster crows, you will deny even knowing me.” I can imagine a confident Peter thinking, how could I? He loved Jesus. he saw the miracles Jesus performed—the blind receiving their sight. He witnessed lives being changed and saw Jesus as the light of the world. Now shocked, confused and in disbelief, he questioned, “How could I deny knowing him?”
You see, the events of a dark night sometimes make us question, maybe even turn our backs or walk away. Here’s Jesus, the hope of the world, being arrested. That wasn’t supposed to happen. He was our ticket to freedom, hope for tomorrow, our light in the darkness.
Peter finds himself close by listening after Jesus was arrested. He was listening to see what would happen when the questions begin to start. People saying, “Hey, aren’t you one of Jesus’ followers?” And Peter’s saying “Oh no, I don’t even know him.” Then another person says, “Aren’t you a Galilean? Weren’t you with Jesus?” Peter responds, “No, not me,” and the third time follows and again Peter says, “No, I don’t even know the guy, and the rooster crows. Can you imagine three times denying that he even knew who Christ was? The realization of where he is in his denial of Christ causes him to weep bitterly.
Are we Peter? Friends, where are you spiritually? Have you been through dark times and found yourself far from God? Maybe this last year you’re saying I don’t know where God has been—I don’t even know where I’ve been. But where are you spiritually? Maybe you are Peter and thought nothing would shake your faith and then life happens— a pandemic happens—people you love die and now you are in the darkness weeping bitterly. I want to speak to someone today who maybe, due to life’s hardships, you have found yourself disheartened, depressed, lonely, lost, mad at God or even denying him. I’m not sure why you’ve gone through hard times or why it felt so hard or why it feels so dark but I want to tell you that Jesus cares.
You see in the Word, Jesus wept with two sisters who lost their brother. He cares how you feel and he wants to walk with you through the hardships. Don’t lose hope. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”
You see feelings are deceitful and the devil would have you believe that all is lost, and it’s just not true. You may have denied Christ like Peter. You wept bitterly at why the night feels so dark but God is calling you to hold on, have faith, trust him, return from being far away. Jesus Christ is coming back to life. We all know the story. Jesus was killed. He came as the perfect passover lamb and gave his life for the punishment of our sin or wrongdoing, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but three days later he rose to life conquering death. The sin that had us sitting in darkness without hope of being with God was conquered when Jesus the light of the world stepped in. There was darkness before Christ and then, bam, the light of the world—he changed it all.
You see, I was that person. Let me tell you a little bit about what God has done in my life. When I was 10 years old I lost my father to cancer and for a few years our family dealt with so much grief. There was so much darkness in my house. At one point when I was 12 years old I thought, how will I ever experience hope again? How will life ever get better? And I’m telling you I got to a point where I just said maybe giving up, taking my life, maybe that’s the only way to experience some relief. But I thought I can’t do that to my mom. We’ve already been through enough. But when I was 15 my mom got cancer as well. Why Lord, why? Are you even there? Are you even real? shook my fist and I said, “I hate you, God. I hate you.”
Fast forward a few months later and I was just feeling so much hopelessness and darkness, and I finally got on my knees and I said “Lord, if you are real, l need you right now. I need you to come into my life, make me a new person. Give me hope, Lord.” And I’m saying for the first time ever, I experienced God’s hope, his light. It was like the darkness went bam—and there was light. I had no hope but I invited Christ into my life, and he gives light.
The story isn’t hopeless for Peter. After Jesus was raised to life he appeared to Peter and the disciples on the lakeshore where Peter was out fishing in his boat, and Peter being Peter jumped out of the boat and got to Jesus first. They cooked the fish and Jesus turned to Peter and asked, “Do you love me?” Peter said, “Yes, God, you know I love you.” Jesus repeated the question two more times. Peter felt hurt that Jesus asked him a third time and he said, “Jesus, you know all things. You know that I love you.” And Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” Peter may have messed up but Jesus loved him and gave him the opportunity to make things right.
Can you relate to Peter? Perhaps you are a Christian but you’ve denied him or struggled to surrender areas of your life to him or maybe even walked away. God is calling. He wants a close personal relationship with you. There is forgiveness.1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from unrighteousness. Jesus can shine the light into the darkness and restore us. Cry out to him, “Jesus, I love you and I want to follow you. Be my light and hope.”
Maybe you are someone who has been hopeless. You’ve had darkness all around and you want to invite Jesus to come into your life. Don’t wait. Ask, “Lord, forgive me for the wrong in my life. Thank you for dying for me. Please come into my life to walk this journey with me.” He hears your cries. He longs to comfort you. He doesn’t promise that life will be easy but he does promise to never leave you or forsake you. He promises, “Come to me all you who may be heavy-laden [which means without hope or with grief] and I, Jesus, will give you rest.”
Let’s not sit in darkness but ask God to help us experience a trust and faith during the hard times. Don’t give up—the light of the world is here to give you hope. Trust him, seek him like never before.
I’m going to invite you now whether you’re sitting by yourself or whether you’re with your youth group or with your young adults or whatever it may be, to take a piece of paper and write “darkness” on it, and maybe you need to talk to God about what that darkness looks like for you. Maybe it’s been family issues or depression or sin that you’ve allowed to just seep into your life. It’s okay to share your feelings. The thing is, God knows it already but there’s something healthy in writing it down. Share what that darkness is and then right below it I would invite you to make another section that says “the light of the world,” and I want you to write how you can surrender to the light of the world, Jesus. Say a prayer surrendering your way and ask God to shed light on your darkness. Maybe you’re saying God help me I know it’s not hopeless but help me to experience your light. I trust you, Lord, even when it’s dark, even when it’s hard. Help me to have that mustard seed of faith. Help me to trust you. I love you, Jesus.
Friends, Jesus is the light of the world and he wants to be the light in your life. Will you pray with me?” Father, I thank you so much for today. God, I don’t know who’s watching today. I don’t know who needed to hear this message but I know, Lord, that you know. I know that you know each and every person, and Father right now I pray that your Holy Spirit would do what only he can do, that you would minister to their needs, God, that you would provide hope in times of darkness, that you would be the light that shines. Lord, we surrender it to you right now and ask Lord that you would see to our needs, see to our hurt, make a difference, Lord. Thank you, Jesus, for being faithful. Thank you for promising to never leave us or forsake us. We love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.
WYI Lite Week 2: Study questions and activity
- What do you think was going through Peter’s mind when Jesus tells him that he will deny him three times?
- Have you found yourself in a similar situation where you have denied knowing who Jesus is?
- Jesus says that “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Tell us about a time where this verse may have resonated with you.
- Activity – Grab a piece of paper and pen and answer the following two questions in two separate columns:
- Darkness – What is that darkness in your life?
- Light of the World – How can you surrender to the light of the world, Jesus?
WYI Lite Week 2: Prayer exercise
Beforehand, write out a bunch of promises from the Bible, each on a separate paper slip. These can be from both the Old and New Testaments. Be sure to have one slip for every youth group member, as well as extras for visitors. During the prayer station time, have teens select a promise and read it to themselves. Then they can spend a few minutes meditating on what the promise means for them right now. Set out notebooks so the young people can journal about the promise, if desired.
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