Manado (Agenzia Fides) - "Young people are like lighted candles. We ask the Lord to send his light of truth to guide them. The young Christians of Asia and the world are called to be disciples who, enlightened and saved by the Lord Jesus Christ , can transform the societies in which they live": this is what Indonesian Protestant Bishop Willem T.P. Simarmata said in his speech to more than 350 young Christians from all over Asia, gathered in Manado, capital of the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi, for the Ecumenical Assembly of Asian Christian Youth (AEYA), held from 7 to 13 April. As Fides learns, the Indonesian civil authorities took part in the convention, participating in the ecumenical liturgy marked by traditional Indonesian dances and by the singing of Christian hymns.
In his speech to the assembly, Rev. Dr. Hein Arina, moderator of the local Christian Church "Gereja Masehi Injili Minahasa" (GMIM), told the young people: "We as a Christian community are a strong and powerful institution and we have the power to bring great influence on social change", hoping that "young people will be included in all the pastoral and social initiatives of the churches".
The moderator also stated that the present poses various challenges to young people, who may find themselves trapped in an "individualistic, consumerist and hedonistic" culture and cited cases of religious intolerance, lack of education, poverty, gender injustice and environmental issues.
The Secretary General of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), Matthews George Chunakara, speaking to the assembly said: "In the midst of complex realities, we are all in search of divine guidance that brings light into darkness, confusion and situations which are often chaotic".
"Through AEYA - he added - the Conference seeks to provide a platform for young Asian Christians to meet at a regional level in order to address some of the most important issues and to give ecumenical answers, in the name of an effective Christian witness".
The Secretary General recalled that AEYA 2018 was the third largest Asian ecumenical youth assembly, promoted in the 61-year history of the Christian Conference of Asia. "Many ecumenical leaders today have grown up in Christian youth movements", he noted. "But today we are witnessing a general decline in youth and student movements". AEYA, he explained, intends to strengthen the Asian ecumenical movement with active youth participation and the development of a leadership of young Christians. For this reason, the 2015-2020 Conference will give priority to the participation and formation of young people with youth leadership development programs. (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 9/4/2018)