For several youth members from the African region, the experience of participating in the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Youth Pre-Assembly will leave a lasting impression. “I met fellow young people from all the continents around the world and I have witnessed diverse cultures,” says Esther Sakaria, a youth leader in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia. “It’s amazing how we have all come together for one major cause, the Assembly, and it’s because we have all been liberated by God’s Grace.”
Both Sakaria and Joas Jasson Lwankomezi, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, were members of the organizing team for the Pre-Assembly. Lwankomezi says the opportunity to participate in this capacity made him feel recognized by the church. “By organising the Youth Pre-Assembly, we have been mentored and prepared for bigger church roles and assignments in the future,” Sakaria adds.
Youth and leadership
Leadership and the participation of youth in decision and policy-making were common themes discussed throughout the Pre-Assembly. “Youth are an important organ of the church who should be represented at the LWF Assembly,” says Hillary Ndlovu, delegate from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe.
Sakaria says elders should support and mentor youth for leadership roles in the church. “Youth are the next leaders and senior preachers of the church, this is the time to mentor them for the roles ahead,” she adds.
Access to education and poverty
For Lwankomezi, the lack of access to education is a major contributing factor to the cycle of poverty, another theme discussed at the Pre-Assembly. “Education should be free,” says Lwankomezi, who notes this is a basic need that should accessible to everyone around the world. He feels most of the poor and marginalised people are not able to access education because they can’t afford it. The cycle continues when job opportunities are further limited due to lack of education.
Speaking on behalf of the youth in his church, Ndlovu expressed his need for the Lutheran church to advocate for equal social, economic and political development around the world even in marginalised communities.