Some participants at the Global Youth Summit. Photo by MWC.
The three-day Mennonite World Conference (MWC) Global Youth Summit (GYS) concluded July 19 with a desire to impact the world by sharing their gifts.
Under the theme “Called to Share: My Gifts, Our Gifts,” 42 delegates and more than 400 participants discussed what they wanted to offer the global church. For three days, they gave gifts of presence, stewardship, service, empathy, creativity, knowledge, leadership, the ability to accept different opinions and use technology, among many others. They also spent considerable time discussing how they could use those for the kingdom of God.
“GYS delegates are already doing good work in their respective churches and communities. They work well together and have empathy for each other,” said Rodrigo Pedroza, Latin American representative and chair of the Young Anabaptists (YABs) committee. “But after three days of cross-cultural interaction and exploration of biblical texts about gifts and callings, their confidence and understanding of sharing has grown.
“We believe they will do even bigger things after they return,” said Pedroza. “Now, their task is to share this message and energy to enrich their church conferences.”
He went on: “We hope their church leaders will support them to grow in their spirituality and leadership capacity. The gifts from the different generations in the church will be a powerful testimony for the kingdom of God.”
This offering of gifts to the church was highly appreciated by the MWC Koinonia delegation consisting of MWC incoming president Nelson Kraybill, treasurer Ernst Bergen and general secretary César García. “These gifts, surrendered into the hands of God, will transform the world,” said García.
“Never forget that while you need the wisdom of those older and more experienced than you, revolution starts with young people,” he said. “Jesus was young. So were Jesus’ disciples. And they turned the world upside down.”
A time to reconnect with Anabaptist teachings: While delegates focused on discerning how to use their gifts for the global church, participants were offered many activities to learn more about their Anabaptist roots and the global church.
“We want GYS to be a place where participants grow in spirituality, especially in their understanding of Anabaptist teachings and the global church,” said Lani Prunés, North American representative to the YABs committee. “We do this by giving participants a lot of opportunities to hear and discuss how we live out our faith around the world.”
Workshop subjects ranged from interfaith and cross-cultural engagement, incorporating social media in the church while still making relationships real and exchange programs, to case studies on living out peace and justice in different parts of the world.
Concerts, sports and games, a collaborative art project, drumming and dance showcases and movie nights enhanced the cross-cultural experience.
Elina Ciptadi-Perkins, a copywriter and communications consultant and an Indonesian Mennonite who lives in Singapore with her family.