India: “Being connected with other youth has enriched me”

Jeebita Moshahari, LWF Global Young Reformer at the 2022 May Asia Church Leadership Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: LWF/J. Valeriano 
Jeebita Moshahari, LWF Global Young Reformer at the 2022 May Asia Church Leadership Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: LWF/J. Valeriano 

Voices from the Communion: Global Young Reformer Jeebita Moshahari, Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church

Jeebita Moshahari, a youth leader of the Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church (NELC) and a Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Global Young Reformer (GYR) talks about her role during the Asia Church Leadership Conference (ACLC) along with other young reformers and the possibilities that arise from, once again, meeting in person.

In this interview, Moshahari also tells about her work in the community encouraging girls to complete their education beyond the basics and the ways in which Global Young Reformers can be a bridge between church and the global communion.

What was your religious or faith formation as a child?

In India, Christianity is a minority religion. My parents, devout Lutherans, made it a priority to teach me prayers and to read the Bible. We attended Sunday school and I attended a Christian boarding school for middle and high school where the students were allowed to lead morning and evening devotionals. This formation helped build my faith as a child and built a foundation for me as an adult.

What is your work today?

I am a Master of Business graduate and was in the banking profession previously. During the pandemic one of my parents became ill and I returned home to care for her. Since her recovery, I am looking to restart my career in something new.  As for church, I am active with youth in the community who do not attend church and I work with girls to encourage them to continue their education.

What are you passionate about? What are your current interests?

I enjoy connecting and networking with people. That part of my personality helps me work with the youth by emphasizing the importance of education beyond literacy but to gain a holistic education, especially girls. When I am not involved with the youth, I enjoy painting watercolor landscapes and pieces of art inspired by Bible verses.  

Moshahari enjoys painting watercolor landscapes and pieces of art inspired by Bible verses. Photo: J. Moshahari

 

Human beings are God’s creation. It is beautiful how God has placed every organ in its proper place and created every blowing tree, perfectly, I think of it as art. Art is important.

What are some of the ways you see youth engaged in public ministry?

My story is a good example of the way youth involvement in ministry can result in unlikely blessings for the entire church.

During the Indonesia 2019 Global Young Reformer gathering, another young person was chosen, but for whatever reason was unable to attend, so I was asked to take their place.  Prior to that event, my church had no knowledge of the Global Young Reformers. I feel like I stumbled into this opportunity. However, during that event I learned a lot about Global Young Reformers and met others who had some of the same challenges as me and my church. Being together gives youth a place to share and learn from each other. I was able to share what I learned with my church.

Tell me about your recent role as a youth leader at the Asia Church Leadership Conference?

For five days, three members of the LWF Global Young Reformers Steering Committee, along with other youth leaders from the Asia region led youth workshops at the ACLC. Together we guided meaningful discussion about successes and challenges as youth in our churches. We identified four key challenges and a few solutions. One of those challenges identified was what we called a “communication gap.”

I facilitated the discussion on the “communication gap” which widened during the pandemic when everything was happening online. We found that people liked to have conversations with friends during the isolation and would participate in the first online meeting, but at the second and third follow-up events we noticed low attendance. We suspected the low attendance was because of screen fatigue. We also noticed the pandemic shifted how we communicated.

The discussion concluded with hopeful expectations for renewed communication with the ability to connect again in person at the leadership conference. Another solution that came from our discussion was appointing a youth point person in each church for an obvious task like updating emails. We are working toward better communication in the coming years.

How has your work on the Global Young Reformers Network informed your work in the church? Why is the work of the GYRs important for the LWF communion?

My participation with the Global Young Reformers has exposed my church to other LWF priorities such as inclusion and equity among men, women and youth and they have committed to adopting these policies at the church. Overall, being a part of the Global Young Reformers and connecting with other youth has enriched me personally in so many ways. It is a blessing.

What are the challenges of a minority church?

In a minority Chrisitan country, being Christian is perceived as foreign and that by following Christianity it is, in a way, non-patriotic and there is a concern that Christians will slowly lose traditions and cultures.

In response, the youth of the NELC created a video with a message that our faith does not destroy our tribal traditions. The video shows that we still wear our native clothes, speak our native language, and use some of our practices while we worship Jesus. Our traditions continue to live on in our belief in Christ.

LWF/A.Gray

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Voices from the Communion

The Lutheran World Federation is a global body that shares the work and love of Christ in the world. In this series, we profile church leaders and staff as they discuss topical issues and set out ideas for building peace and justice in the world, ensuring the churches and communion grow in witness and strength.