Wu Yuzhuang, who oversees Emerge, talks about seeking after the one thing that fills the heart of every young person.
Given his youthful appearance, it’s hard to imagine pastor Wu Yuzhuang has been a Christian for over 30 years.
Wu had a tuition teacher who did more than help him ace his studies. Every year throughout primary school, she would invite him to Christmas parties at her house. Slowly, he came to know about the man called Jesus. He describes that his conversion at age 13 was far from dramatic. No altar call, no goosebumps. Just a simple one-to-one conversation at an Anglican High Church camp.
“I never looked back after I received Christ,” he says.
“I joined a youth fellowship in school, but mostof the meetings were about teenage problems like boy girl relationships. There was always a hunger that was not satisfied. I was looking for something more, and one day I heard about this youth Ministry Ekklesia—which means “the called-out ones”—led by the then 23-year old Kong Hee. I invited myself to their meetings.”
Wu caught the fire of revival at Ekklesia, where the presence of God made a mark on him for life. “There was a need for a guitarist at the time so I trained myself to play the guitar. Before the days of the Internet and YouTube tutorials, we photocopied scores. I had to borrow a guitar to practice. I also tried ushering. Not a lot of success at that,” he says with a laugh.
It was at age 17 that Wu, a newly appointed cell group leader at the time, felt the calling of God to enter into full-time ministry. “It started with a desire. A lot of altar calls were given for full-time ministry and I would respond to every single one. I also started preparing myself—I prayed that God would use my mouth to preach, use my hands to heal and I also equipped myself with the necessary skills for a cell group leader.”
Wu believes that young people need to be inspired and be reminded that they have a future, and that they should not despise their youth. “Every young person wants to lay down their lives for something. If it’s not God, it’s an idol, a pop star. There’s an in-built nature in human beings, that needs something to fill their heart. The yearning is there. My job as a pastor now is to direct them to the Lord, instead of other things.”
Of the contemporary church, Wu says, “We’re pretty relevant as a church when it comes to engaging with culture—dance and music and so on. The presentation of church has changed with the times: there’s prevalent use of social media, EDM-style praise and worship, bedazzling visual graphics, even Christian raves. But there will always be the ‘old-fashioned’ teachings about the Word of God and the Christian lifestyle. We have to be current and relevant in our presentation, but not throw away the Bible.”
He continues, “Youth programs are a good way to engage and connect with the youth. But the one thing that really draws people to stay is the presence of God.” He recounts that when he was a youth, there was no lack of fellowship—barbecues, picnics and all sorts of engaging programs. “But I didn’t stay for all of these. I was looking for more. The times may have changed, but people are still the same. Young people need the presence, a divine touch of God.”
Wu exhorts CHC youths to always come to God with “simplicity of heart.” While good visuals and music can inspire faith, as Smith Wigglesworth puts it, “I am not moved by what I see, I am not moved but what I feel. I am moved but what I believe.”
What moves us to faith ought to be our unrelenting belief in Jesus and the reality of His presence in our everyday lives, says Wu. So the question to ask ourselves is this: when the camp activities have passed, when music stops, when we search deeper within ourselves, will we find a simple heart, one like that of 13-year-old Wu, which seeks the presence of God?