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Making a Difference with Christian Youth

Billy Graham

Like many I have had the opportunity to hear Billy Graham preach in person – in my case twice.  

The first was as a ten year old at the old Madison Square Garden in 1957 with my parents. I recall the music of the 3,000 person choir led by Cliff Barrows, particularly their rendition of “Just As I Am” at the end of Dr. Graham’s sermon. I recall feeling the presence of the Spirit of God touching my heart but, as a ten year old with my parent’s present, I was hardly ready to take those steps to the floor of the Garden at the call at the end of the service. It was the first time that I clearly understood that our Christian faith was a personal, individual experience not simply a community worship experience with parents and friends at our local place of worship.

Of course, the other memory that remains to this day was of George Beverly Shea singing his powerful and moving version of “How Great Thou Art” with the 3,000 person choir backing him up. Though we often sing this song in our worship services today, back in 1957 it was never sung in the Baptist Church on Long Island (New York) which we attended. The church left this song for the crusade and it made it that much more special to hear.

Forty-eight years later my wife and I attended a Billy Graham Service in Queens. New York. It was held on a Sunday afternoon and we were returning from a visit to a Hindu Service at a church a friend of ours attended. We were unaware of the Billy Graham meeting as we travelled to that Hindu service.

 This was our first visit to a Hindu place of worship and our three hours with a Hindu congregation left us in a contemplative mood. On the way home a billboard on the side of the road announced the service by Billy Graham. We were ready to hear him.

Little did we know that this would be the last public sermon that Dr. Graham would preach (At least, as depicted in newspaper reports the next day.) Once again George Beverly Shea, now 99, sang his version of “How Great Thou Art”.

The topic of the sermon was the story of Noah, how Noah had to make a decision – to obey or not to obey a rather unusual directive from God. Billy Graham did his usual wonderful job of telling this Bible story just the way it was written but with a passion for the Word of God. In the story God, noting Noah’s faithfulness, called him to build an ark for his family and all living creatures of the earth. He had to act alone at the instructions of God. The rest of the world was going their own way.

The message was a simple one and Dr. Graham asked each of us: have you ever found yourself all alone, taking a stand for what you deem to be correct while  being questioned by all others around you. It made me think about times I have taken stands out of faith when logic said otherwise. Not as often as perhaps I should have but there have been times. Those few times resulted in blessings beyond which I could have imagined could occur.

Billy Graham was a humble man, giving all the credit for his success to God. His life of  commitment is as influential to me as any of his sermons but the two times I heard him, in person, were impactful.

We live in troubled times in America. The country is separated into factions that are unbearable to observe. Many, who deem themselves conservative, and many, who choose to follow liberal standards, appear to have less tolerance for each other than at any time during my lifetime.

It is a lonely place trying to be the mediator at this time. The mediator is attacked by both sides of the ideological segments of the world. The Christian Church even has become ideological.

Perhaps the tragedy at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School will be the moment that people look to those things we can agree upon and focus less upon their differences. The articulated determination of the youth of this country to bring about needed change is commendable. Is there another Billy Graham in this generation?

Perhaps the gospel message by Dr. Graham, that touched me as a ten year old, is a message the Christian world needs to hear again. God calls us individually and personally.  We all have a choice to respond or not. Respond “yes” and the loneliness we sometimes feel will be overcome by the prayerful inspiration we receive.


How did it happen? How did a middle-aged man with no kids of his own end up taking on a semi-leadership position with a church youth group? I didnít even get along with teenagers when I was one! I was one of those kids that got picked on through most of adolescence.

Basically, I backed into it. When one of my oldest friends organized our church youth group, he asked me to help out with one or two activities. Judging an Olympic event here - offering transportation there. And that remained my level of involvement for the first few years. But I found I enjoyed the company of the kids. And gradually, 'stopping by once in a while on a Sunday night if I had nothing else to do' turned into 'being there every Sunday night unless I had a prior commitment.'

To my surprise, I realized that youth group was no longer something I did to help out my friend. It had become an important part of my life. What I get out of it is far more than what I put into it.

Being with youth is fun! Talking to them invigorates me, makes me feel younger and fresher. They are open, they say whatís on their mind. I have loved developing a rapport with them. And their commitment to doing good work is an inspiration. My own faith and commitment are deeper because of my contact with these fine, caring young people.

Our entire church is stronger and spiritually stronger because of this youth group. I'm proud to be a small part of it.

Frank Tangredi 
Deer Park Presbyterian Church

My name is Danielle LaLaina and I live in Madagascar, more specifically in our capital city, Antananarivo. I live my brother and sister now as my parents live in another province.

Our country is beautiful as you can see from the picture of myself at one of the local beaches. We do have challenges in Madagascar with the greatest challenge for our people being the fight against poverty, as so many people are trying to find enough money to provide for the needs of the family and themselves.


I pray at the English chapel. It's not really a church but an association of our Christian community. We are small with around 150 people and we have a big youth group with around 50 members. Our youth group is split into different groups such as worship team group, drama and dance group, mission group and intercession group.

To read my full story, please click: Daniella of Madagascar

I am so glad to have discovered this International Christian youth website with ideas, games and testimonies. To young people around the world, my wish for you is that you would really know who God is, that He is the only one who cares for you and who has a great plan for you...I look forward to hearing the testimony of others and am so thankful that this website gives us this opportunity and wonderful resources for youth programs. I encourage you to read the reviews about the Chest of Visions book. It seems to be a special story with testimonies from unknown lands . (Review of Chest of Visions can be seen below).



I used the "Ha Ha" game to break the ice and than I used "trust and pray" which blew away the youth. They loved it at the end when we lit the candles and began to pray.


I believe the lord told me to ask if everybody would accept Jesus as their savior; one said "no" and I began to tell her about Jesus and she accepted Jesus that day into her life.


Praise god. I thank God for this ministry at Not the Same Old, Done-it-before Youth Meetings.

Boyd Diaz Texas, USA 

My Name is Jean Victor of Rwanda 


Let me tell you what was really interested me in the last letter which I’ve got: “30 years in youth services” while I ‘m 32 old years and almost only 17 years in youth services. Please , I think it is better sharing with you these experiences which you have passed than any other supports, reasons why: I get to read this book (Not the Same Old, Done-it-before Youth Meetings) because I’m sure that all of the experiences will be there.

There are two categories of ages of our young people. One group is between 7 to 14years where about 30 to 40 participants are; another is between 17 to 30 years; this has more than 70 members together in relationship with other high schools (Christian youth teams) in my country where every local Christian youth team is independent in the same prayer and relationship.

Our two favorite activities which I do with our young people are: Prayer together with Evangelical then playing different games and dance.

In my area, I wish to build a Christian youth center because in the holiday’s school, many parents need a secure area where they can leave their kids (young) for playing different games at the same time takes a good Christian education. Our ministry is Village mu rugo and I want to be with your team in a prayer relationship.

Thanks and God bless you for the web site 


Jean Victortogether w

of Rwanda


AUGUST 21, 2010

Hello - I used the Bombs Away activity with my teens groups and they loved it! I let them make the "bomb noise" themselves when one of them went on the bombs. I enforced in them the idea of trust and how we have guides in our life to help us on the right path..

Thanks for such a great activity!

Stephanie D

I am a new member of the youth group and find it really fun. I will take some time describing what we do here in our youth group. There are two activities that I really enjoyed: the 30-hour famine and Hope for the Future. These were both learning experiences that were also fun.

First, I will tell you about the 30-hour Famine. This is a program where we experience hunger firsthand. This was a fun experience since we fasted together and helped each other along the way while trying to help those in need. At the end we got what was considered a meal for Indonesian people who had suffered from a terrible earthquake, a small plate of rice. It made me think about what some people have to go through and be very grateful for what I do have. Next, I want to tell you about Hope for the Future.

Hope for the Future made me feel good about myself. The youth group and I went to New York City and set up tables. We then put different sorts of food on the tables and then allowed homeless and poor people to walk in a line and take what they needed. I saw what some of the people wore in such cold weather, it was shocking. Seeing what happens to some people makes me believe that everyone should help the people that are in poverty.

As you can see, the youth group through these programs helps me see and experience the hardships faced in parts of the world and how each of us can lend a hand and make a difference.

Dear Friends,

My name is Brian Ferguson, I'm Tim's son and as such I spent many years in his youth group whether I wanted to or not. I was there when it was first started and I was the youngest member for years. Eventually I became a leader in the group in various ways be it writing skits or planning events and my friends became involved too. This experience was invaluable to me as it helped me develop useful skills while having some fun and learning more about religion along the way. It was also good to have a place young people like myself could meet and be together in a fun and positive way.

The most interesting meetings to me were the ones that involved discussions that were open to ideas outside of standard Christian thinking. I can recall discussing what various religions consider the afterlife or ways that modern science and the Bible agree and support one another. These are the meetings I and my friends remember to this day because they were intellectually stimulating and taught us to have an understanding with the people and world around us. Even friends of mine whom do not subscribe to a religion look fondly on this. From what I know of other groups in our area these sort of events are uncommon, which is a shame.

Brian made this new website possible by generously paying for its creation as a gift for my seventieth birthday. Thanks, Brian




"Wow! Its one of the few realistic and useful youth books I've run across and is recommended for youth pastors and adult volunteers in youth."


Thanks, Cara, for reading and sharing.


 Christians of all ages - Do you need a faith pick me up?                                     


Here it is ...      The Chest of Visions

                                     Review dated February 2017 from Onlinebookclub


"What would happen if Jesus arrived today instead of 2,000 years ago? Would you risk your reputation and give up what you had to follow Him? These are the questions The Chest of Visions by Tim Ferguson seeks to answer. Not only does the book tackle these difficult questions, it does so in a unique format - the book is written via a pen pal-like dialogue between a few youths..."

Read more at Online Review

Do you have a Testimonial to share? Join Christian Youth Leaders Around the World by writing to Timferguson@Christianyouthgroup.org

Thank you to all contributors



Tim Ferguson

30 Fairlawn Drive,

Deer Park, NY 11729


Not the Same Old Done-it-before Christian Youth Meetings is a site which shares Christian youth ministry lessons that are both fun and faith-based. 


© 2017  Not The Same Old .. Created  by BlueFlame Media ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



My name is Tim Ferguson and my Christian Youth Ministry began as a high school student at a Baptist Church in Port Jefferson, N.Y. Our adult leader often looked to me for ideas and even let me run a few meetings.

After returning from college in 1969 two local churches, one Presbyterian and one Methodist, joined together in a local coffeehouse ministry. Before I knew it, I was left in charge. It was a volatile time. The group had its share of Vietnam Veterans as well as protestors of that war. Everyone, it seemed, played acoustic guitar. People liked to philosophize about faith but involvement in the actual church was lessoning. In the midst of this, events like "Olympics", and "flashlight sing" evolved. These events were still used forty years later.

In 1973 it became apparent that it was time for me to move on. It was difficult. Though I had a job at a local insurance company, my work at the coffeehouse was my real mission in life. It took a good friend's heart to heart conversation with me to solidify my conviction that there truly was a new life ahead. I prayed about it and decided to leave it in God's hands - I would take the first affordable apartment anywhere within an hour's drive of my place of business.

In May 1973 that "anywhere" became an unknown town in central Long Island, N.Y. by the name of North Babylon. Bordering to its north was the village of Deer Park. To my amazement the very first Sunday I attended the Deer Park Presbyterian Church a church elder announced that he wanted the church to support a new local coffeehouse. God had called me to leave one coffeehouse ministry behind and immediately gave me a new one in my new home. To this day I still marvel at how God calls us to our missions.

The Deer Park Coffeehouse was, in actuality, a post high school youth gathering and ran weekly for eleven event-filled years. In many ways a mission project, the group became a family of friends that still exists to this day. Several individuals from the group were introduced to our church through the coffeehouse. During these years I became a parent, started teaching a seventh grade Sunday school class and was elected to the church board of elders. Soon after the Cub Scouts of America called and seven years of den leadership became my new calling.

However, God was not yet through with me in terms of this church's youth work. The church asked for a new senior/junior high leader and I, at the time with fifth and eight grade sons, stepped forward on Easter Sunday 1994. As blessed as the previous programs were, this one was especially blessed


We were blessed by youth who cared and who wanted to make a difference. Many have made testimonials under the "Youth Speak Out" page on this website. They made a name for themselves by serving seventy-five homeless people on the lower east side of N.Y. City outdoors during a blizzard in January 2005. They embraced the Thirty Hour Famine for seventeen years and for several years brought other Christian youth groups into this program by inviting them to join us. I am particularly blessed that several of the children of the original Deer Park coffeehouse members attended our youth group even though the families were active in other local churches.. It was so much fun to see Steven E. do well at Olympic events at which his father Joe E. excelled in the late 1970's


In the Fall of 2014 the youth group ended as there were no longer Junior and Senior High School students active in the church. It was a good twenty year run and I have been pleased to continue my Christian youth work via this website. People from around the world continue to share how they use the many activities available through various pages on the website.

I have been blessed by the support of my wife, LInda, during these years of youth work. I also thank the efforts of Coffeehouse members from the past who, as adults, have lended their assistance to the youth program.

I received the honor of a television interview with a New York television station on August 19, 2017, an opportunity to share the challenges youth ministry has brought to me.

Tim Ferguson,30 Fairlawn Drive, 
Deer Park, New York 11729
Phone - 631-242-2582 
Email - timferguson@lessonsforchristianyouth.com

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