19 November 2021

The World President of Women's Ministries, Commissioner Rosalie, met with Captains Marc and Mariska Potters, International Youth and Children's Officers, to find out what is on their heart as they look to the next generations and those who lead and care for them

This interview was the third of a social media series for international Women's Ministries, which features Commissioner Rosalie speaking with key individuals within The Salvation Army's network, sharing a richer insight into the global Army at work and the leaders who influence the mission in which we are all engaged. It starts by asking one simple question: What is on your heart?

Captains Marc and Mariska come from the Netherlands and they split their time working on-site at International Headquarters, London, and working from their home in the Netherlands, following their appointments as International Youth and Children's Officers in August 2020. Commissioner Rosalie asks them what this work means to them.

Marc: I think our role is best described as aiming for every child connected to the international Salvation Army to be able to live life to the full, and that they are kept safe while doing that. Basically, it's three things: we are connecting the national youth leaders of The Salvation Army with each other and with International Headquarters, we are sharing resources that are created from all over the world - and there's some beautiful stuff out there! - so that other territories can use that, and we are supporting territories to make sure that children and young people are safe thrrough creating child protection policies and training programmes. This is not all done by the two of us, but we have a team that help us out with that.

So, you are kept very busy! Now that you have had a chance to see what is required of you and the international Salvation Army, what is on your heart as you think about the youth and children and the future?

Mariska: What is really on my heart is two questions: Are we really listening to them? Like, really listening. And are we really learning from them? Both as an officer within the international Salvation Army and as a parent.

Marc: Yes. Do we really empower them? Do we share our power with young people and children? Are we creating space enough so that they can actually participate in co-designing what The Salvation Army in the present and in the future should look like? Are we actually making space for them?

What message of encouragement and advice would you like to give to those who are caring for, looking after, teaching, leading, influencing our children and young people around the world today?

Mariska: I would like to give encouragement knowing that I am not perfect, and I still am learning to be a good parent and leader. What we have learned during the past 18 months is to 'stay connected'. I think it is so crucial. Stay connected to God for yourself so that you are spiritually healthy, but also to stay connected to your children and the children that you want to influence. You also want to stay connected to your true self and the calling that God has put on your heart.

We discovered another thing, and that is 'LALAA'! The first 'L' represents the unconditional love that we can have for children, which will enable them to grow and it will strengthen your relationship. Loving them despite the choices they make, because those choices can be different from your choices. The first 'A' stands for being available whenever they need you. The second 'L' represents how we must listen to them and learn from them. The second 'A' and the third 'A' remind us to accept them the way they are, and to ask God and others for support. LALAA: love, be available, listen, accept, and ask.

We can do that. We can 'LALAA'! How can we pray for you? And how can we pray for the children and youth around our world?

Marc: Firstly, I would ask you to pray for our family and the transitions and changes ahead. Secondly, we look at Generation Z as the first generation who might be worse off with regards to the environment and the economy. This is the generation that may well have less than we are having. This is a burden on my heart that we pray for the generation to come, and also for the older generations to make space and share wealth with the younger generations. I pray that the older generations would be a cheer squad for the coming generation and to stand on the sidelines when they are trying and flourishing, and also when they are trying and failing, to say, "Come on, you can do it! We are here with you!"

Specifically, we pray for young people who are vulnerable at this time, due to the pandemic, anxiety, mental health issues... There are kids that can't stay at home and have been subject to domestic violence, especially durign the pandemic. There are so many kids we have lost sight of because they have left their schools or churches during the pandemic and haven't come back yet. Sometimes think that kids have abandoned church during this time, but I wonder whether it is the church that has abandoned kids.

Big questions, big prayers, but we serve a big God! Thank you for sharing with us today. We pray God's blessing on you and that you will feel the Holy Spirit's courage and power to be who God is calling you to be.


Tags: WM News, Real Talk