For a while, the UYC had been planning to host Online ZOOM calls for youth leaders worldwide with the aim to connect and learn from each other. We are so happy that we could have the first ZOOM call on the 19th of December. We could get to know each other, share what we do and learn from each other’s experience.
In this blog, I would like to tell you something about what the youth leaders shared about their work in the specific provinces and mission areas so that you might be encouraged and inspired. If you are a youth leader, we also invite you to join in the next call and be part of this wonderful community. If you want to know more about the call, please send us an email or contact us here through the website.
Now, let’s go ahead and see what’s happening around the globe.
Zambia has 4 regions of youth work; the problem is that they are quite far from each other and it is hard to cooperate. Despite that, the youth meets once a year for a Youth and Mission Conference. In their regional conferences, they do sports, music, Bible quizzes and teach on gender, illnesses and other topics. Their favourite activity is praising God and evangelizing through songs. Bible quizzes are also very popular among the youth.
In the current situation, only up to 10 people can meet in person. The work in Myanmar focuses mostly on spreading God’s word to people and evangelizing. In December, the youth with their leader went to a market place and shared God’s word and the Christmas message and found a great response to it.
In the three congregations in Nepal, there is a big mix of ethnicities, which makes it very diverse. In one congregation, the youth know each other well since their childhood, while in the congregation in Kathmandu, the youth live far away from each other and the church, so it is more complicated to create a fellowship. That is why during the COVID-19 lockdown, the youth leaders decided to connect these three congregations for virtual fellowships. This helped the youth to get to know each other and open up different discussions and debates on different Bible topics. The Nepali like to sing a lot, so they organized online carolling. The two things that they felt were very successful were Social Issue Nights where they could talk about current issues (such as the overuse of social media) and their impact, and Stress Management Courses where they taught on how to manage stress at this challenging time. In this course, they sat down with each youth and talked to them individually so that they could help them to move forward.
The church in Uganda is a young church and there are not yet many congregations. However, there is a youth council set up that is planning for a youth conference. They are working on making sure that the youth are represented in each congregation. At the conference, they want to have youth from all the congregations and appoint youth leaders for each congregation. Before the lockdown, the youth would meet every Wednesday, but when the lockdown started, they had to find other ways to connect using technology. Since not everyone has a smartphone, they used texting as a way to keep in touch. Some of the members became more active during this time and that was what encouraged them to set up the youth council and to hold a youth conference. One of the things that the youth like to do is to make art crafts to support the youth work, such as, baskets, shoes and sandals.
The European Continental Province (Germany)
The youth have also been meeting mostly online and some of the youth gatherings have been turned into an online version. One of the things the youth leader did was a Moravian Radio that has its own channel on YouTube and you can find many different programs there, such as, cooking show, interviews with interesting people and other. For easter, the ECP youth leaders created scribble books that contained a variety of activities connected to Easter, but they were not only for sitting down, they also included some physical activities. Recently, they have created an Advent calendar that was not only aimed at the youth, but also at other members of the church.
The British Province organised its first online summer camp with a variety of activities across three days. The participants got a box of necessary tools and accessories for the camp and participated via ZOOM. During the Advent time, they organized a Christmas Lovefeast with gingerbread cookie baking. During the online Lovefeast, everyone had time to prepare the dough, then they did liturgy and sharing, they watched some pre-recorded messages from around the world and in the end baked the cookies. It was a great activity for youth, but also families, so they want to repeat it in a similar way at Easter and Pentecost.
The youth in the Czech Republic had to cancel their two provincial events, but some of the congregations could organize their summer camps when the restrictions loosened up. The youth were encouraged to keep in touch and try using more personal ways of communication, such as calling each other, writing an email or sending postcards/letters instead of using social media. Some of the groups get together for practical work to help out in the community or to someone in the congregation.
Each of the islands in the Eastern West Indies works autonomously and have different activities. However, they have a Provincial Youth Camp where the youth from the islands come together and work together.
The youth in Guyana have had to be meeting online in the past months as well. They have been organizing virtual meetings where one person presents on a character of the Bible and then they have a discussion about it. They focus on a good level of engagement in the meetings. They also organize discussions on mental health and career guidance. For 2021, they hope to organize a youth convo. They like Bible quizzes, sports, competitions and camps.
South African youth reacted strongly to the pandemic. Before, they had in-person gatherings on the congregational and national level. Singing has been very important for them since it can connect all cultures and languages. When all the meetings started being cancelled, the Moravian Youth Union of South Africa (MYUSA) reacted with many different online activities and streams aimed at the youth, but also encompass foreign youth. It is complicated to include everyone in the online work and it is a challenge to make the virtual meetings work, but they are doing a great job.
There are four regions of Jamaica and each of them has their youth coordinator that work together on the provincial youth board. This January, they are hosting an online event called youth award where they award youngsters for their work in the Moravian Church and among the youth. The awards are given to people who are nominated by someone else and then selected by a committee that evaluates the nominations and selects the award recipients. This event is something that happens regularly, but this year it will be hosted online for the first time.
I hope you have been encouraged by what all the youth leader do in their provinces and I am looking forward to seeing even more youth leaders in the future ZOOM calls, so that we can all encourage and enrich each other.
Picture: Cuban Moravian Church Youth Outing