Asian Christian youth pledge to be change agents

By Matters India reporter

Manado: The first Asian Christian youth assembly kicked off at Manado in the North Sulawesi Province, Indonesia on April 7 urging them to be catalysts for change in Asia.

Focusing on the theme ‘Lord, Send Your Light and Truth to Lead Us’, the Asian Ecumenical Youth Assembly (AEYA) is initiated by the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), an ecumenical body.

The AEYA, a major ecumenical youth event with the participation of 350 young people (between the age of 20 and 35) across Asia is taking place at the Grand Kawanua International Convention Centre.

The April 7 -13 event aims at engaging youth from across Asia in an ecumenical platform to express their views on a wide range of emerging Asian issues, and examine, reflect and unpack the underlying concerns faced by young people in a fast-changing Asia.

Organised jointly with the local hosts, Gereja Masehi Injili Minahasa and the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, the AEYA intends to provide a common platform for selected young Asian Christians to develop a viable regional Christian youth network, in order to meaningfully affirm the prophetic witness and helping them to drive a transformative change in their societies.

The AEYA is the largest Asian ecumenical youth event organized by CCA since a major youth event was held in New Delhi, India, in 1984.

“Although several issues surrounding young people in the world today are not new, the underlying issues faced by young people are much different from yesteryears. The society we currently live pushes many youths to go beyond their physical and mental limits as myriad issues continue to threaten the Asian youths.

In this context, the AEYA will inspire young representatives from Asian churches to come together to beseech divine guidance to lead them in light and truth amidst complex realities,” said Reverend Mathews George Chunakara, CCA general secretary.

“As most Asian societies are still grappling with issues of varied magnitude, Churches in Asia should come forward to identify and prioritize the key issues and concerns faced by the young people and such issues should be a priority of Asian churches,” he added.

The week-long event is expected to provide a platform for young Asian Christians to discuss a wide range of emerging Asian issues and themes such as, ‘Towards Shaping a Transformed World: Role of Asian Youths’, ‘Prophetic Witness to the Truth and Light: Biblical Theological Perspectives’, ‘Spirituality in a Digitalized World’, ‘Embracing and Appreciating Diversities and Human Dignity,’ and ‘Changing Family Values and Cultures in Asia: Intergenerational Voices.’

Youths in Dialogue Sessions will address issues and themes such as ‘Religious Intolerance and Politicization of Religion,’ ‘Artificial Intelligence: Future of Asian Youths,’ ‘Trafficking in Persons and People on the Move within and Beyond Asia,’ ‘Human Development and Technological Advancements in Asia, ‘Are Young Asians Becoming Digital Nomads?’ and ‘Disappearing Values of Love and Care amidst Selfie Culture.’

The participants will take part in an ‘Asian Easter Celebration’ on Sunday, 8 April, at the Maesa Stadium in Tondano, North Sulewes, which will be organized by the Indonesian churches in conjunction with the AEYA.

Two sessions focusing on dialogue with interfaith leaders by the participants, on the theme ‘Light and Truth in a Pluralistic Asia’ will be led by prominent Asian religious leaders representing Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Taoist religions.

The AEYA will adopt a formal Declaration titled, ‘Young Asians: Journeying Together in Search of Light and Truth for our Common Humanity.’

While explaining the significance of AEYA, Chunakara said, “We’re happy to facilitate a major ecumenical event open exclusively for young Asian Christians. As Asians, especially young people, face numerous challenges in their day to day lives, it is our sincere hope and prayer that the AEYA will help each participant to discuss and reflect on problems they face in their respective contexts.”

“The issues of today’s youths are far different from what it was a few years ago. We hope the AEYA will effectively address some of the most pertinent Asian issues and act as a precursor to great changes in the coming days,” he said.

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