In December 1961, Hellen began the YOUTH Paper Ministry. Initiallly, 100 painstakingly printed copies were prayerfully distributed to Liberian youths. After another WEC ministry, SOON, sent out an issue of the YOUTH Paper with its publication, the Liberia-only distribution scattered over many African countries. Eventually, nearly 100,000 copies were promised quarterly to pastors, evangelists, prison ministry workers, and youths in over 60 nations, all sent free of charge.
Looking at the number of “subscribers,” by 1988 nearly 100 letters were received daily requesting copies of YOUTH. After several years this overwhelming volume of requests slowed. By 2000, an average of less than 200 letters were received monthly. Continuing in this same decline in 2011, over the last six months we have added only 145 new subscribers, 105 of these via emails, averaging less than one letter a day. The YOUTH Paper’s subscription list is based on people writing to us requesting copies. If there are no requests, there will soon be no subscribers*.
I have been praying, seeking the mind of the Lord concerning the YOUTH Paper. Hellen (and many of you) prayed for a co-worker(me) for many years. Because this prayer for a co-worker seemed to take a while to get answered, my prayer since I arrived 25 years ago, has been that He would send a replacement for Hellen. No replacement has ever come forth. I prayed for finances, and a bit came in, but not nearly enough to cover the cost of postage doubling, then tripling over the years.
The Lord provided enough funds to continue in a limited way, but perhaps a more important issue is that my heart needed to be compelled to stand for the YOUTH Paper Ministry. That deep inner drive never seemed to be birthed within me even though I believe I’ve been willing, and Hellen certainly has prayed. She has even prayed for that double-anointing on me such as Elijah prayed upon Elisha.
In spite of my hesitancy, I believed that the Lord can still make a way, so since Hellen’s retirement, I prayed for some clear direction for this literature ministry — perhaps a word or some sort of sign. About a month ago I was standing near the WEC mail boxes, and again, not one letter in the YOUTH Paper box. It dawned on me that this was my sign. No mail, again.
We already had in mind to celebrate 50 years of the YOUTH Paper’s existence in the fall. After talking with several leaders within WEC and with Hellen, even though it is sad, reluctantly, at the same time we will celebrate the closure of the YOUTH Paper Ministry. I plan to publish the last issue of YOUTH in September.
I continue to think that this little humble paper has been used mightily by the Lord in the lives of countless young people over the fifty years. God’s Word does not return void. But God does use different tools in different ages. Perhaps, with the advent of the cellphone/smart phone, testimonies and teachings will be passed from phone to phone. Maybe it’s time for African writers to begin their own publications. It is not an easy decision to close a ministry. Death is hard and not comfortable, but at this time, closing the YOUTH Paper Ministry seems to be the will of the Lord.
*a YOUTH Paper subscriber is one who has written to us asking to receive one or more YOUTH Papers. We remove their name when they have not written to us for several years.
Saint Horace goes Home, or
Why the YOUTH Paper Was Not Published Last Quarter
You may have been wondering what happened to the winter-quarter issue of YOUTH. So was I. As the Lord would have it, my father, Horace Patton, went through his last days during the time I should have been preparing the quarterly publication.
Shortly after Thanksgiving 2010, Dad’s health began to decline rapidly. Alzheimer’s disease was eating away at his ability to walk, stand and eat. Shortly before Christmas, he developed a urinary tract infection which did not respond to home treatment. In January 2011 he was admitted to the hospital. After a short stay in a rehab facility, he was re-admitted to the hospital as the infection came back stronger than ever. February 1, his first day in hospice care, he peacefully slept his way into heaven.
As our family is located in Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, Kansas, Oregon and Washington as well as Pennsylvania and New Jersey, I decided to have the Memorial service mid-March to give all time to make arrangements to attend.
My director at WEC strongly recommended that I take several months off, and I should have listened. I kept thinking I should be able to pull together the YOUTH Paper. I kept trying, but it simply wasn’t to be. Fortunately, now I seem to be less tired and have been able to publish the issue this quarter.
Tribute to my father
Horace Matthew Patton was born May 20, 1925 and died February 1, 2011. First and foremost, he was God’s man. He loved Jesus more than anyone and his life-long desire was to serve Him and to never do anything that would shame the Lord.
As a Presbyterian pastor he loved preaching. He took seriously his role to train the elders and deacons. He was also very concerned about child and youth biblical education. This included Sunday schools, Daily Vacation Bible schools, weekend retreats for the Senior High youths and summer Christian camps for all ages. He even became a proponent of family camps of which our large family of nine attended several. He pastored in six churches in over 50 years, always active in the presbytery.
He and his beloved wife, May, raised seven children plus two grandchildren for about ten years. Each of us was encouraged to develop our own gifts and uniquenesses in our walk with the Lord.
As time went on Dad and Mom sought to deepen their relationship with the Lord. The first major influence I remember was in the late 1960s by Rosalind Rinker and her teaching on conversational prayer which was to increase awareness of God's presence and intimacy with Him. In their next church in Williamsport, with the same desire to grow intimate with Jesus, they became involved with FGBMFA (Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship in America). I think part of their joy with FGBMFA was the worship. Dad and Mom both always loved singing to praise and worship God.
Dad, in response to the spiritual needs of his congregation members, attended various professional advanced education programs. These included pastoral counseling graduate courses, various church growth seminars, as well as spiritual life conferences.
He and Mom were very supportive of my ministry with the YOUTH Paper. Dad wrote a commentary on Ephesians for us which began in Issue #99, 2nd quarter 1988 and finished in Issue #135, 2nd Quarter 1997, nearly ten years!
After Mom’s death in March 1997, Dad continued to preach and be active in the Presbytery of New Jersey. He retired from Bayview Presbyterian Church in March 2004. He probably already had beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and even though this disease slowly took away normal skills, he remained a loving, gentle man. His sense of humor delighted us until nearly the end. Even as his body was failing, every Sunday, I would ask him if he wanted to go to church. His answer was always a strong affirmative YES. He wanted to be in the house of his Lord and Savior.
I have a rich legacy from my father. He loved Jesus. He was quite diversified in his interests and skills. He could paint the house or sing 10 different songs in a row and was usually reading numerous books at the same time. He was faithful, honest, loving. He exhibited deep integrity and strong convictions and beliefs.
I missed him as he slowly disappeared over the last years. I am grateful to know that he is where he yearned to be — with his loving Heavenly Father and brother Jesus. He is whole again, has the mind of Christ and joy indescribable.
In an assignment for an English course at Temple University in 1945, Dad wrote that after becoming personally acquainted with Jesus Christ at the age of thirteen the Bible became the book that influenced the whole course of his life. He concluded this essay saying “I pray God might use my life, for His glory.” This prayer has been answered. Amen.