Growing on the world stage

By Elsa Matthias

Just over 500 years ago something happened. Many would say this something was the Reformation but I beg to disagree. Just over 500 years ago, a man realised that something was not quite right in the church and decided to do something about it. The Reformation led to the church we know today. I have […]

Just over 500 years ago something happened. Many would say this something was the Reformation but I beg to disagree. Just over 500 years ago, a man realised that something was not quite right in the church and decided to do something about it. The Reformation led to the church we know today. I have learned in this past year that the Reformation did not occur in the distant past, it only began. We have been called as the followers of God to spread the Gospel. We have been called to continue to reform the church.

When I graduated from high school in 2016, the question: ‘Where do I go next?’ was at the forefront of my mind.

As our family moved to South Australia from Queensland, I began a physiotherapy university degree, and then had the chance to be part of the LCA/NZ’s Grow Leadership program in 2017.

I didn’t know it then but that crack in the door was a huge step in my faith journey and of servanthood to Christ. I am still studying and loving it, but my volunteering hours have been filled with numerous opportunities to serve the universal church – locally in my congregation, Churchwide for the LCA/NZ and globally.

Before Grow Leadership, volunteering in my local congregation was my only serving opportunity. Born overseas in the USA, naturally I knew there was a global church, but as a young person in Australia, how could I be part of that movement?

Grow Leadership, and the program’s ‘Stretch and Grow’ trip to Cambodia, challenged me to become involved in the wider congregation, the global body of Christ. So I asked God. And, as it says in Matthew 7:7, ‘Ask and the door will be opened to you; seek and you will find’.

I have since become a member of the LCA International Mission committee. This has given me a chance to be involved in the ministries of the LCA/NZ and our overseas partner churches. But, God wasn’t finished with forging global connections for me.

Recently, I was privileged to be one of the Australian representatives to the Lutheran World Federation Young Reformers. We were young people of the worldwide Lutheran community who came together to learn, discuss issues and seek ways to reform the church. I participated in two conferences: the Global Young Reformers Network conference and the Asian Church Leaders conference in Indonesia. I spent two weeks in a community of young people passionate about their churches and the ways that we can make a difference. We got to know each other, formed cross-cultural relationships and discussed topics near and dear to our hearts.

Our focus was on the topics of education, equity and revival of churches as they pertain to young people. We identified issues that occur in these areas within our local contexts, as well as celebrating the successes that we have achieved since the synod a couple of years ago. Our discussion led to formulating recommendations for church leaders and were based on input from youth across the Asia region.

Revival of churches
encourage and support service and active participation by youth;
encourage participation of youth in local congregations;
expose young people to the work, vision and challenges of broader areas (regional and global);
expand the global youth network;
support the work, leadership and voice of youth in local contexts;
provide exposure to leadership.

Education
adopt a wider focus to promote education and assist those who to undertake secular studies;
improve Bible knowledge and confirmation classes with local contexts, in particular for younger age groups;
develop interfaith relations and foster a culture of understanding;
Lutheran church leaders could come together to take concrete actions which advocate for and implement climate justice, gender equality and addressing social injustice;
as a role model, the church should set a good example of the Bible teachings in relation to these global issues.

Equity/equality
there is still work to be done to provide space for people of other races and women to take leadership roles;
“gender equality is important” should not just be a statement but action should be taken to see gender equality in positions of leadership;
awareness programs should be created to empower women and educate men to continue to promote the work towards gender equality.

The second week saw the youth of Asia attending the Asian Church Leaders Conference. We came from Thailand, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Malaysia, and Australia/New Zealand and were able to participate in the conference. We learned from our church leaders, expressed our views and had a chance to be involved in the future of the worldwide Lutheran communion. We also had an opportunity to present our ideas, opinions and suggestions with church leaders. We shared our enthusiasm but more importantly we shared our discussion and ideas about the future of the church.

The youth of Asia are not passive bystanders to the fate of the church. We are not content to sit and watch. Although youth are the future of the church, we also believe that we are part of the present. Our final message, a statement that struck us very strongly, concluded our presentation: We, the youth of Asia are here, and we are ready to make a change with you.

Just over 500 years ago ‘something’ happened and today that ‘something’ continues. Reformation is a process. It is a verb. The youth of Asia and the international young Lutherans are eager to see this verb become reality. We are called to reform the church.

We, the youth of Asia, are here and we are ready to make a change with you.


If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email nevin.nitschke@lca.org.au. For more information, go to https://www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/volunteer/

Read more stories about volunteering at https://www.lcamission.org.au/category/join-gods-mission/volunteers/

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About the Author : Erin Kerber


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