Young and Inspired for Reformation in Asia

Delegates from LWF member churches in Asia, at the regional training workshop in Taipei, Taiwan. Photo: Johanan Celine Photography
Delegates from LWF member churches in Asia, at the regional training workshop in Taipei, Taiwan. Photo: Johanan Celine Photography

Asia Lutheran Youth Network to Nurture Leaders

(LWI) – Young Lutherans in Asia have established a regional network to strengthen their response to social, economic and environmental challenges in their context.

The Asia Lutheran Youth Network (ALYN) was inaugurated in Taipei, Taiwan, following a 16-19 April training workshop for The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches in the region. Youth leaders from the LWF member churches in Asia say they see it as critical for sharing and learning, nurturing young leaders and contributing to global LWF initiatives.

The LWF Youth desk at the Department for Mission and Development (DMD) organized the workshop in the context of the Global Young Reformers Network (GYRN). DMD created the international platform in October 2013 to encourage young people (18-30 years) in the Lutheran communion to contribute to the 2017 Reformation anniversary and the LWF Twelfth Assembly.

In Taipei, 13 young leaders were trained on how to collaborate as a network representing the 53 LWF member churches via Skype meetings, working online with Google documents and establishing Lutheran profiles on the GYRN social media platforms. They also discussed theologians’ presentations on how to strengthen Christian identity in Asia from a Lutheran perspective.

Challenging Mindsets

“My expectations have been exceeded. In fact, I find that everyone who has come for this meeting is very well prepared, very articulate, very passionate and has actively participated in all the discussion and come up with brilliant ideas,” said Lee Darius Zhen Ying, Lutheran Church in Singapore.

Ying said he believes that youth leaders have a unique contribution from an Asian perspective in the upcoming celebration of the Reformation anniversary “by making disciples who will break down barriers, open a new path for the gospel and speak out for justice and righteousness.”

Reformation today, he said, “is about challenging certain mindsets and certain ways of thinking that are prevalent in society, and which threaten to silence or diminish the message of the gospel. The call to reformation in the 21st century is a call to nail our own 95 theses,” he emphasized, referring to Luther’s public protest in 1517.

Sustainability and Visibility

Chrisida Nithyakalyani, youth secretary of the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India said the ALYN platform will expose more youth to both opportunities and challenges in the region. “I look at this network as a connecting point between young people and LWF Youth desk, Asia desk, and the national committees to work together and to ensure that voices of Asian youth leaders are heard in the LWF communion at global and regional level,” she said. “However, the challenge is the sustainability and visibility of this network. It is therefore necessary to connect and collaborate with other existing youth and student networks around Asia and to the already existing and newly emerging networks in other LWF regions,” Nithyakalyani added.

Gideon Pan, Taiwan Lutheran Church, said it is a blessing that “different youth leaders from different sub-regions and diverse cultures share similar enthusiasm to retain Lutheran identity by working on emerging issues due to globalization.” He plans to invite other youth leaders from the six Lutheran churches in Taiwan to a social media platform where they can discuss pressing issues in the country and listen to other Asian youth leaders.

Pimpinan Brades Sijabat from the Indonesian Christian Church (HKI) said the new regional youth network can create space and opportunities for those “who may not be privileged enough to be exposed to leadership trainings or conferences abroad.” The ALYN will play a vital role in reforming Asian youth leadership, he noted.

“I feel proud to be a part of Asia Lutheran Youth Network. I am convinced that this network will enhance my skills and capacity to work for the holistic development of my community. I am committed to share my knowledge and contribute my services to this network,” added Krutika Priyadarshini Mohanty, Jeypore Evangelical Lutheran Church (India).

ALYN will be presented at the international GYRN conference later this year in Wittenberg, Germany.

A contribution by Rev. Steven Lawrence, LWF regional expression officer for the Asia region