The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. –Genesis 2:15
As the early morning Nicaraguan sun set the chapel aglow, the highly anticipated 2013 Youth Advocacy Training officially began with a biblical reflection, prayer, and joyous singing. Maura Ramos of El Salvador led the worship, focusing on Ecclesiastes 11:9-10, sharing that although there can be many distractions in life, youth should give their time to serve God, dedicating their lives to the church.
Youth leaders enjoying getting to know each other on their speed dates./ By Chelsea Macek
Following the devotional time, Caroline Richter, secretary for LWF Youth, expressed her excitement to be meeting with the Latin American youth leaders and stressed how important the conference is to share and exchange ideas and advice, in person and heart to heart, amongst the youth. Caroline later led some highly entertaining icebreaker games, including a slightly-adapted speed dating session, so that the participants could open up and get to know one another.
Fabian Bello of Columbia facilitated the presenting of youth climate projects. Leaders spoke of their local involvement in the fight against climate change, explaining how they help their home congregations learn more about the environment and how to protect it. Some of the projects were church-wide recycling units, emergency management training for natural disasters, selling recycled crafts, and developing a mobile recycling business, amongst others. “What we are doing is one small step to great change,” said Mexican youth leader Luis Velázquez, “We start with a small seed, like a mustard seed… We are all capable and have the right attitude to help change happen, to really see a difference made in our communities.”
“Why should the church engage in addressing this issue of climate change when there is poverty, so much crime, and injustice all around us? Shouldn’t we pay more attention to that? The world has to end one day and we all have to die too. Isn’t this a way of distracting us from engaging in real ministry?” – citizen of Jamaica, during a climate change panel
Theology student Danielle Dokman of Suriname presented a theological reflection on climate change from a Caribbean perspective. Even as climate change leads to new disease, disappearing forests and beaches, and exacerbating poverty, it was discussed that it is difficult to get many people, especially in third world countries, to take notice of climate change when they have an unclear future, struggling to survive, and do not see it as a top priority. As Lutheran Christians, it is important to define the relationship between the Creator and his creation (humanity, animals, and plants) using the Bible, oral tradition, and our own experiences. One must remember that we are co-partners with God in our garden which is the world today.
Nahún Stütz of Argentina and Raquel Kleber of Brazil presented “Climate Change—A Challenge to Our Churches”, the international report developed after they and seven other delegates attended the COP18 as representatives of the Lutheran World Federation. Youth leaders discussed the document in small groups and presented their local and global understanding and ideas to the conference participants. The report is held in utmost importance as a tool in having the youth’s voice heard as it will be presented to the LWF council in June of 2013.
Pastor Angel Furlan of Argentina spoke on the methodologies of advocacy and how to implement them in one’s community, focusing on the humanity and vulnerability of the world. Youth leaders developed and discussed their own personal definitions for advocacy.
Pastor Angel Furlan speaks on methodologies of advocacy./ By Chelsea Macek
“There is so much potential here,” stated Pastor Angel, “I see lots of enthusiasm in these youth… a thirst to work. They are already making changes. I look at their faces and see the people that have to lead us forward. The future is already in their hands.”
by Chelsea Macek, communications at the LAC Youth & Leadership Conference 2013