Below is another article by a young Christian from South Africa. She was one of the fortunate few young men and women who participated at the Edinburgh 2010 World Mission Conference. She exemplifies the voice of the youth who live in developing countries.
By Fofo Lerefolo
The youth delegation would like to give ‘a thumbs up’ to Edinburgh 2010 for recognizing them as part of the Conference. Youth tends to be marginal in most proceedings and that makes their voice be silent. It is high time we move forward as the world and identify youth as the mission practitioners of today. This is the historic moment for young people who came to represent their churches and countries in witnessing to Christ today and to discuss about mission in the 21st century.
Discussions have been very fruitful but coming from different cultures and contexts, young people feel that their voice is not heard enough in the conference. Old and conservative approaches do not apply, for we know the virtues of young people and we see the fruits of the Spirit in them too. Sometimes they are much better than the average Christian. Without the voice for those who are young, we fear some of the trends for the future will not be perceived soon enough for the Church to act in light of the Gospel.
In this globalization era today, world mission is entering into a new era too. People can communicate with each other easily via the internet and can travel among different cultural contexts easily due to modern transportation. Modern people are becoming more hybrid and mobile during the fast information exchanging process. As young people, a more flexible and more open-minded attitude is needed today for the way world missions works. Many new types of missionary tools and methods have been developed according to the new situations and new generations we are dealing with all around the world.
In this mission-transforming era, the missionary fields are changing from the old era. The former mission-receiving countries today may become the mission-sending countries. Young people should be aware of this change, and should deliberately transport themselves to new mission fields. So actively getting involved in inter-organizational and inter-cultural co-operation is very much needed.
As young people, we are more able to adapt to different cultural contexts and most of the time we are more welcomed by indigenous people, We should use wisely our advantages to devote ourselves to indigenous social activities, for example: short-term mission in language courses, long-term support of local charity projects, working with schools and youth organizations etc, which will, at the same time, spread the good news in action.
We have to notice that today’s world is in a trend of migration; people are moving frequently. We can all find our own opportunity to share the gospel in our surrounding areas, for example, we have foreign students and foreigners living in our community. It is a very good chance for us to reach them in our familiar culture and society, especially for migrant young people - we can help them more than others in a foreign land to get used to the new environment they are facing. But also at the same time, we need to be more aware of our position and our strategies. Our aim is to share the good news and God’s love rather than push a particular culture and ideology. No matter where we are and what we are doing, in serving the Lord to reach those who have not heard of the gospel or helping our own brothers and sisters, as young people, a more dynamic, open and love-filled heart is necessary.
All in all, in this new fast-changing world, youth mission is highly involved in this globalized missionary project. We should make ourselves available when God wants to move us for mission or make ourselves available all the time in our daily life to spread the divine love in schools, community groups or social charity projects, everywhere and in any context, with a respectful attitude and firm faith in the pluralizedl world today.
Fofo Lerefolo, originally from South Africa, is a proud Methodist and active member of youth organizations in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. She is currently working as an intern with the World Council of Churches in the Mission and Evangelism programme.