“I want to pass on the baton to young people, so that they can pick it up and run – and I’ll be the cheerleader,” said Pastor Young Chae, as he started waving his hands animatedly, continuing, “I just envision myself saying to them, ‘You can do it! Go John! Go Steve!’ And them saying to me, ‘Thank you Pastor Young for believing in me.’ That’s what I envision. I want to provide whatever I can so that they can run for the glory of God.”
Chae is the senior pastor of YeshUSAhm Church in Garden Grove, CA, which he planted in January of 2015. The church currently has about 20 first generation Korean adults, and about 20 English-speaking, Korean American youth and young adults.
One of his primary passions, however, lie with building up and investing in the next generation.
His heart for young people actually began during his military career, Chae shared. Chae was an active duty soldier in the U.S. Army for 23 years, which included a 14-month deployment to Iraq.
“Being a military man, I always worked with young people. The military is filled with young people,” Chae said. “The young people are the most active soldiers, and they’re the heartbeat of the military.”
While working with them, he said he had a passion to motivate them and guard them so that they can perform even better than he did.
“They’re much smarter and much more well-informed, with so much more energy and even more integrity,” Chae said. “I think they can really make this world a much better place than the world that I inherited.”
One way he tries to invest in young people today as a pastor is through discipleship trainings, which are held once each week on Saturdays.
Professors from Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology – Chae’s alma mater – are invited to discuss questions about the end times, apologetics, and theology, among other things.
“They have a lot of questions,” Chae said referring to the young people he has encountered. YeshUSAhm also has a section in its church website in which visitors can ask questions about their faith.
“The majority of the questions are about things like dealing with sin, how to get eternal life, and the end times,” Chae explained. Through discipleship trainings like the ones he hosts on Saturdays, and through personal relationships, Chae said, “I try to help them find those answers. I try to help them as biblically as possible, so that they can solve those problems.”
But youth and young adults have more than intellectual cravings, Chae said. They crave love.
When asked what the best way is to engage with young people, he responded, “We have to love them just like God loved us. We have to love them unconditionally, and they will come back to us.”
“When there is a lack of love, they go astray and look elsewhere, outside of churches, families, schools, to look for that love,” Chae said. “If the church, or the family, or the school, do not have love, they are not interested.”
That’s easy to say, but how does Chae live that out personally?
Interestingly, he said, “I tell them like it is.”
“I do not paint any pretty picture of how they are at the given moment,” Chae said.
But, he added, “I embrace them unconditionally as well.”
The young people don’t seek a love that just covers things up, but one that knows their flaws, but still chooses to love, Chae explained.
Chae also sends them Bible verses from time to time, he said. Though he as a pastor may have limited influence in a person’s life, he believes that continued exposure to the Bible has the power to continually transform their lives.
“Scripture has the power to change lives,” he explained. “I’ve seen this through the lives of so many young people through the years, and Scripture has changed my own life as well.”
This is the ultimate result that Chae hopes to see through teaching and loving these young people and every person that he ministers to: that their lives would be changed.
“When I decided to plant our church after praying and fasting about it, the Lord gave me three things to focus on,” he said. “First, to focus on Jesus alone; second, to focus on faith alone; and third, to focus on love alone.”
“Instead of just going to church every Sunday and just going through the motions of Christian life, I want us to live the life that God wants us to live. I want the church to impact the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. When people come to our church, I want their lives to be transformed and sanctified so that they could serve the Lord in the way that He desires, not just in the way that seems right to them.”