Youth for Social Change: East Timorese Young People Explore Strategies
During the recently concluded National Youth Camp in Dili, East Timor from April 15-17, 2022, about 200 young people from the five regions of the country deliberated on the “Role of Young people in Church and Society.” This is the first public gathering that their church, the Protestant Church in East Timor (IPTL), has hosted after three years as the pandemic slowly begins to lose its grip over this small and young nation. Their particular focus was on the role of young people in promoting peace and justice, skills training for development, and understanding and living out spirituality as per the example of Jesus of Nazareth. Bible studies, group discussions, testimonies, singing and dancing were the main features of this three-day gathering.
During the opening message by the Moderator of IPTL, Rev. Domingos Alves insisted that young people can make a qualitative difference in the life of the society even though they are most often pushed to the margins. Drawing on the story of Daniel, Rev. Alves called on young people to be strong in their faith and commitment. Rev. Francisco M. de Vasconcelos, former moderator, emphasized education, training and capacity building as necessary for youth empowerment for social change.
Via Zoom, Hannah Liddle, who accompanied her parents Rev. Tom and Dr. Monica Liddle as they served the people of East Timor as Global Ministries’ mission co-workers (2016-2020), shared about her life back in America, telling them that even at school in Minnesota, she frequently talks about her life there, and her many memories from Lospalos. While sharing her reflections on the theme as a young person from the USA, she urged them to study, pray, and support each other. Tom and Monica also encouraged the youth to listen to the elders’ stories of the Timorese struggle for self-determination as a way to stay resilient and build a strong nation. Rev. Deenabandhu Manchala, Global Ministries’ Area Executive for Southern Asia offered greetings on behalf of the Global Ministries and drew their attention to two urgent concerns of our time – the climate crisis and increasing tolerance of injustice that threatens their own future as well as of the world.
-as reported by Julio Martins, Dili, Timor Leste