Less than a year ago, I hadn’t the faintest idea that I would be in Indonesia this February, let alone have four new friends from four different continents. But that’s what happens when you engage in your global faith community: you end up in places you never expected –physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
The five of us – Jantine Huisman, Makadunyiswe Ngulube, Dominik Bergen, Ebenezer Mondez and me – weren’t sure what to expect at the MWC executive board meetings in Indonesia as part of our new roles on the Young Anabaptists (YABs) Committee. Thankfully, we have previous YABs committee member Tigist Tesfaye Gelagle as our guide and mentor on this journey.
Our first meetings in Indonesia can be summed up as orientation and planning.
The first two days, we learned a lot about the history and vision of Mennonite World Conference and how YABs fits. We valued the history lessons on how our identity as Anabaptists has been shaped by the past. We learned about the recent development of YABs and how it has evolved since beginning as a Global Youth Summit planning committee in 2001.
Not only did we learn about MWC and YABs, we also learned to know each other and how to work together cross-culturally, something that we will be continually growing in over the next five years.
Once we were somewhat oriented to our role as the young adult arm of MWC, we started planning and making a rough task blueprint for the next five years. We tweaked the previous YABs committee’s blueprint to match our vision and goals, but five main focus points of the YABs committee remain the same: networking, fellowship, capacity building, decision-making and Anabaptist identity.
One major initiative to cultivate and promote fellowship among young Anabaptists is our first annual YABs Fellowship Week, which will take place June 19–26, 2016. Patterned after World Fellowship Sunday, the purpose is to foster a greater sense of koinonia (fellowship) among young Anabaptists around the world through prayer and the sharing of stories, songs and Scripture. Materials are available online for youth and young adult groups to utilize for YABs Fellowship Week.* Our vision is for young Anabaptists to share prayer requests and pray specifically for their brothers and sisters in different countries, as well as connect through worshipping with the same resources, and utilizing social media as a platform and means of communication.
What’s exciting about being a part of the YABs committee at this stage is that we have a good structure in place, but it’s still in the formative years when we have the opportunity to shape it and continue to widen the sphere of influence for young adults in the global Anabaptist community.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@younganabaptists) as we work to strengthen the network of young Anabaptists around the globe!
Larissa Swartz, North American YABs representative