International youth event will focus on sharing faith
July 5, 2005
|A UMNS file photo by Kathleen LaCamera
Young people ages 17 to 30 participate in the 2001 International Christian Youth Conference.
A UMNS Report
By Allison Scahill*
More than 400 young Methodists from nearly 40 countries will gather this
month at Teresopolis, Brazil, for the eighth International Christian
Youth Conference on Evangelism.
This is the first year the event has been in South America, said the
Rev. H. Eddie Fox, world director of World Methodist Evangelism. Brazil
was chosen for the July 19-26 conference at the invitation of the
country’s Methodist churches.
“We try to make sure we go to the different parts of the world,” said
Fox, whose Nashville, Tenn., office is part of the World Methodist
“The purpose (of the conference) is for young people to experience
Christ in their life and to be encouraged and empowered by word, deed
and sign in the world,” he said. “This is one of the most exciting
missions. The young people are dynamic and alive and open to the Holy
Conference seminars and small group discussions will focus on four main
areas — Christian spirituality, Christian mission, Christian world news
and Christian faith sharing, Fox said.
“This world needs Christ’s faith, and Jesus told us to share faith,” he
said. “Methodism is an evangelical movement. The world needs to know who
Jesus is, and young people are good sharers. They’re energetic, they’re
visionary and contagious in their faith. We want to give them the
confidence and competence to share the word.”
The Rev. H. Eddie Fox
Guilherme Lockmann, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said this will
be his fourth conference and his second on the planning committee.
Previously he was a participant.
“The expectation is to help the participants to share their faith and
their testimonies of establishing the kingdom of God around them, in
their neighborhood, city, country and — why not? — the world,” he said.
“After all, the participants will be a sample of different experiences
of witnessing the theme, ‘That The World May Know Jesus Christ.’”
Fox said ministers from around the world will speak to the participants, who will range in age from 17 to 30.
“Each morning, we’ll have a Bible study led by the different continents
of the world, so there will be a constant interaction of faith and
culture throughout the week,” he explained. “At night, they can go to
coffee shops and experience different kinds of music and interact with
Beth Miller, director of youth ministries at First United Methodist
Church in Ann Arbor Mich., said she is taking 15 youth to the conference
as part of a theater troupe, the Strangely Warmed Players.
“Strangely Warmed Players is a youth drama troupe, and we write our own
plays and perform them all over the world,” Miller said. “Right now,
we’re writing a few plays specifically for ICYC.” The troupe will
perform and lead workshops on drama as a tool for ministry.
At the last youth conference, held in Northern Ireland in 2002, the
troupe connected with Grace Imathiu—daughter of Bishop Lawi Imathiu of
Kenya—and a mission trip to Kenya resulted, Miller said. After the
troupe performed in Kenya, the youth group started mission work and
kicked off adult mission programs.
“This is all a result of ICYC. It’s a pretty amazing story,” Miller said. “God sees things we could never imagine.”
“ICYC helps all of us to be better prepared to share our faith in our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Lockmann said. “In the past ICYCs, God
has spoken powerfully to all of us — to me especially — in how we can
gain with the experiences of our brothers and sisters around the world,
and also seeing how big a family we are as Methodists.”
A highlight will be a public event that includes a march, an outdoor
service in the city and a “Brazilian Festa” featuring food, cultural
dances, music and celebration. The celebration will be hosted by the
The conference is held every three or four years. “There have been about
5,500 young people who have gone through these conferences since 1980,”
Visa problems and lack of money have been obstacles for some people in
attending past conferences, according to Fox. “I know that the world is a
village, but there are a lot of fences to hop over. We have been
working hard to get as many people over there as possible. Sometimes
it’s hard to make that possible.”
World Methodist Evangelism provides scholarship help and small grants to
people from developing countries, “but we never have enough,” he said.
Registration is $350 and participants must pay for the cost of travel.
“This is a life-changing event,” Fox said. “We consider it to be the
most important thing we do (at World Methodist Evangelism). Young people
who are a part of the movement need the experience of being trained and
the experience of the World Methodist movement.”
*Scahill, a mass communications major at United Methodist-related Baker
University in Baldwin City, Kan., is an intern with the Convergence Team
at United Methodist Communications.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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