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International youth event will focus on sharing faith

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A UMNS file photo by Kathleen LaCamera

Young people ages 17 to 30 participate in the 2001 International Christian Youth Conference.
July 5, 2005

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 Council.

“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 Spirit.”

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.

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The Rev. H. Eddie Fox
“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.”

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 people.”

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.”

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Guilherme Lockmann
“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 Brazilian churches.

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,” Fox said.

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

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