2015: Let’s welcome one another

The watchword for the year 2015 can be found in the letter of Paul to the Romans in Chapter 15,Verse

Youth Participation in Botswana: “Warriors in Christ”

By Thato Ramakoba, Botswana   Is pledging time for church really worth it? Allow me, for minute, to

Rock’n'Roll ministry in Japan

Blog post by Rev. Kazuhiro Sekino, Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Japan BOXI ROCKS – Japanese

 

2015: Let’s welcome one another

January 6, 2015 in Church, Climate Justice, Fast for the Climate, Global Young Reformers Network, Life, LWF, Spirituality

The watchword for the year 2015 can be found in the letter of Paul to the Romans in Chapter 15,Verse 7:

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

I find this watchword is a truly global one: only by accepting  each other we can fully experience how to praise God. In another translation -the Revised Standard Version- it even reads as : “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

The apostle Paul speaks about acceptance and welcoming as  key features of the Christian community. Isn’t that very beautiful? People of different attitude, character, color, race, language and gender can come together and praise God. But it is also challenging sometimes. You surely have some  experiences when it is difficult to be open enough to welcome. How can this be improved in 2015 (and beyond!), how can we become truly welcoming?
In the LWF, we can learn about the attitude of acceptance and welcome in a spiritual and social way, but also very practically. During global encounters with the LWF communion we experience : We can listen to each other. We can respect each other. We can celebrate together. We can praise God together.

And the light and joy of this celebration will shine into our fragmented world.

The LWF General Secretary Martin Junge reflects in his New Year’s Message:

In a world characterized by communication breakdowns, by withdrawal and fragmentation the prophetic witness of Christian communions – local and global – will be seen in their capability to accept, welcome and embrace the other. It is this acceptance of the other that reveals both the centeredness and rootedness in Christ. And it is hence this ability to accept and embrace the other that gives glory to the Triune God.

Youth and Children in a rural Lutheran congregation in Papua New Guinea
Picture by LWF/Marie Renaux

The LWFyouth Desk wishes you joy, inspiration, strength, courage, tolerance and global friendships in this new year 2015. May it be a welcoming one!

Surely, it is going to be an exciting and renewing one…as we are looking forward to the global programs in 2015:

  • The Global Young Reformers Network – with the global meeting in Wittenberg and regional meetings in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and Latin America
  • The LWF advocacy work for Climate Justice and the work towards the UN Climate Conference in Paris in December 2015
  • The #FastfortheClimate Initiative  continues to invites people to fast one each 1st day of the month and with 365 Fasters around the world
  • Youth Participation initiatives- youth groups in LWF member churches who strategically want to increase youth participation
  • and many more regional and global initiatives yet to come and to be discovered.

The LWFyouth Desk stays at your service to empower, accompany and support you in your meaningful work for and with young people in the church.

Blessed 2015 to you all!

Caroline Richter, LWF Youth Secretary

Youth Participation in Botswana: “Warriors in Christ”

November 14, 2014 in Africa, Church, Youth, Youth Ministry, Youth participation

By Thato Ramakoba, Botswana
 

Is pledging time for church really worth it?

Allow me, for minute, to take you back to my childhood. We had quite a big family, an extended family for that matter and we weren’t well-off, sometimes we’d sleep on empty stomachs, be it on a Saturday night but one thing for sure we did was to go to church on every Sunday. Grandma would wake us early in the mornings and have us prepare and get ready for church, which would be situated just a stone’s throw away from our compound, we obviously walked, and along the way we’d go knocking at our friends’ houses and have them tag along. We didn’t have so many ties and obligations, and indeed life was wonderful! I was in the choir and yeah I sang a little bit in Sunday school. Grandma taught us the golden rules, the 10 commandments, and she said, “Son do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, she said, “Don’t steal”, “Don’t bear false witness against your neighbour” and so on, you know all the things good parents try to instil into their children. But as a child, particularly, a teenager, trouble was never far away from me, time and again, I would find myself in the wrong side of what I was advised against. And umm, she said, “Thato, stay out of trouble”, I tried to be as good a child can be amidst all the confusion.

With that said, let’s now get back to the substance of the question which has been put forth. Is pledging time for church really worth it? I am going to leave it all up to you to decide if the answer given really satisfies the praiseworthiness of pledging our time to the church.

Let me first start by reflecting on what the church is.

The church is the body of Christ—a group of people unified (Ephesians 4:1-3) under Christ, who represent and reflect Him to the world (1 Corinthians 12:12-17). The purpose of the church is to join people of different backgrounds and talents and provide them training and opportunities for God’s work. It accomplishes these both internally, within the body, and externally, in the world.

Acts 2:42 explains the internal function of the church: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Jesus entrusted the church with the task to teach the body sound doctrine. There are many influences in the world that claim to have the truth, but God entrusted His word to the church (Ephesians 4:14). Still, knowledge of doctrine is useless if it isn’t used (1 Corinthians 13:2): “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV). Sound teaching leads to spiritual maturity which leads to building up the body of Christ.

The purpose of the church is also to provide a place to “break bread.”

Often, this means just eating together and living life together (Acts 2:42). Formally, we break bread at the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The practice of the Lord’s Supper unifies us as it reminds us that we are all saved by Christ’s sacrifice. Practically, it also provides an opportunity to reconcile differences and right wrongs as we examine our interactions with fellow believers (1 Corinthians 11:27-28).

The natural result of sound teaching and a unified body is that the members of the church will take care of each other. The most powerful way to care for others is to pray for them (Acts 2:42). Just as the early church prayed for each other (Acts 12:5; Philippians 1:3-4), so we should bring each others’ needs before God (Philippians 4:6-7). Within the church we are also called to show honour (Romans 12:10), compassion (Ephesians 4:32), encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and love (1 John 3:11). And we are to meet each others’ practical needs. James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” One of the primary purposes of the church is to provide for the needs of its members (Acts 20:34-35; Romans 15:26).

Externally, the purpose of the church is to fulfil the Great Commission as Jesus commanded in Matthew 28:18-20. There is no nobler purpose for the church than to introduce others to Christ. We do this in part by making sure we faithfully represent Him and become who He has called us to be. Philippians 2:15 exhorts us to be “blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.” Whether we witness to people in our neighbourhoods or send others to foreign lands, the church is called to manifest the Holy Spirit in us by embodying Jesus’ character and telling others about Him.

The purpose of the church is to be the believer’s spiritual family.

It is through the church that God takes people with different personalities and gifts, unifies them as a single body, and equips them to care for each other and reach the world. We were not meant to live the Christian life alone; surrounded by the biblical teaching and loving community of the church, together we find our own purpose in life.

The (LWF Strategy 2012 -2017) demands that young people must have a place and a voice in all aspects of church and communion life,

including decision making and leadership; its in this respect, that Warriors In Christ, an initiative by Thato Ramakoba of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Botswana came into being. The main aim of Warriors In Christ is to help mobilize the youth to take interest in church activities, it supports the view that the interest of the church lies with the youth who are in truth the moral fibre of the church, therefore, its the responsibility of the youth to ensure that the welfare of the church is maintained sustainably without discrediting it in anyway. Like warriors our interest lies with the church, we would do anything for the church to ensure that it achieves its set goals and targets. Our audience is the youth themselves; simply put, we’re the stewards, and we provide our services as per our varying talents to the church without any expectation.

As Warriors In Christ we stand by the values of commitment

and shared responsibility thus we long to know each other and through this initiative we also intend to recruit other people to take the interest in sharing responsibilities in the church and come up with more ideas which will see the church changing its complexion for the better. In the fall of August, we launched our first activity at our Youth Centre (Galaletsang Youth Centre) where our Head Office is housed. . Prior to the 9th of August 2014, we sat down as an Interim Committee and decided on what activity to embark on; we then unanimously agreed that we’d do the cleaning of the entire centre. We started off the activity with introductions and a mini orientation of what Warriors In Christ is and its intentions as well as the introduction of our first activity. With pleasure, majority of the youth from the Central Circuit were in attendance, the activity started, we did all that was agreed upon in one spirit. Early evening, we had barbecue with some veggies and pap (pap is a traditional porridge/polenta made from mielie-meal and a staple food of the Bantu inhabitants of Southern Africa) around the bonfire. It is at the bonfire where we got to know each other at a personal level; we passed jokes, told stories and shared our visions for the ELCB. Seeing that it was getting late, we had a closing mass prayer and called off the day. Fun we had, thanks to LWF and the Central Circuit Youth for the cooperation!

 
Author: Thato Ramakoba who is the Warriors In Christ Coordinator in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Botswana

Info:  This youth participation initiative was funded by the LWFyouth program “Inclusive communion-Youth Participation”, small grants can be applied here: http://lwfyouth.org/2014/03/20/lwf-supports-your-initiative-on-youth-participation/

Rock’n'Roll ministry in Japan

October 21, 2014 in Asia/Pacific, Evangelism, Faith, Life, Spirituality, Youth Ministry

Blog post by Rev. Kazuhiro Sekino, Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Japan

BOXI ROCKS – Japanese Lutheran Pastors’ Rock Band

The percentage of Christianity in Japan is very small, less than 1%.

And the atmosphere in many churches is just like in school, it is like in a  class room where the teacher gives a lecture and the students just receive. Also, general people think that only Christian people can go to church.

If we keep going this way, the living gospel never reach the people. In order to break this boundary Lutheran Pastors and seminarians have started the Pastors’ Rock band “Boxi rocks”  for touching young peoples’ hearts!
Who is Boxi Rocks?

Japanese Lutheran Pastors and seminarians started the group in 2013. That same year they performed with a Buddhist monk band. Together they sold out live clubs where they played. Their performance was broadcasted as a story for BBC world news. Boxi ROCKS continues to perform Rock’n Roll and bring new energy to the Japanese Christianity.
They hope to schedule a world tour and perform in Germany in 2017 for the 500th anniversary of Marthin Luther’s reformation.

If you want us to perform in your place please contact k-sekino(at)jelc.or.jp

Here is our Music Video!

Reformation Day Online: Join the Virtual Conference of the Global Young Reformers Network

October 18, 2014 in Africa, Asia/Pacific, Church, Climate Justice, Europe, Global Young Reformers Network, North America, Spirituality, Tools, Youth Ministry, Youth participation

 

“Freed by God’s love- to change the world”

This is the first virtual conference of the LWF Global Young Reformers Network (GYRN) and is being held on Reformation Day 2014.

Keynote speeches, panel discussions and workshops will explore questions of Christian faith and Lutheran identity. Participants will be able to delve deeper in discussions in small groups.

The Conference will start with online Reformation Day worship service. The special highlight will be a virtual choir bringing together dozens of singers via the Internet.

Workshop topics include:

  • Foundations of the LWF foundations
  • Principle of youth participation
  • Identity and diversity of the Lutheran communion
  • Advocacy for climate justice
  • And many more…

Participants will at the end of the conference have the opportunity to vote on Young Reformers priorities.

Speakers from all generations

Speakers include Rev. Martin Junge, LWF General Secretary; Ms Eun-Hae Kwon, LWF Vice-President for the Asia region; GYRN Steering Committee members; and members of the LWF delegation to the Interfaith Summit on Climate Change and UN Climate Summit 2014 held in New York in September

Participation in all time zones

On 31 October 2014, the conference will be held in two time blocks to facilitate participation regardless of time zone.
Round 1: Time Hong Kong 20:00/ Time Geneva14:00/ Time Chicago 7:00
Round 2: Time Hong Kong 1:00/ Time Geneva19:00/ Time Chicago 12:00

Register in the Social Network to join

Young reformers and other interested people throughout the world are invited to take part in this 3-hour, interactive online event.

To take part, visit the Conference Website.  Please register by becoming a member of the ongoing social network for the LWF Global Young Reformers Network.

You can download the Conference Poster here