The Taizé Pilgrim of Trust youth conference in September 2019 attracted over 2000 youth from more than 30 countries. This year’s event took place in Cape Town and the HeartlinesWhat’s Your Story? (WYS) church mobilisation team found it a fitting opportunity to discuss gender-based violence, reconciliation and unity.
Heartlines project assistant and youth leader, Fana Ndhlovu, says it was an impressive display of young people gathered together as Christians in a common cause of prayer, worship and the will to build community.
“I was blown away by seeing so many young Christians gathering. It was such a diverse group of people: some from townships, others from affluent areas, as well as different cultures - Africans, Europeans, Asians and Americans to name a few,” he says.
Our team ran a WYS workshop for 70 youth, with Fana and lead facilitator Seth Naicker engaging them in discussion and teaching them about how storytelling can be used as a tool to build community.
There was also a brief discussion about xenophobia, as some delegates had been hesitant to attend the conference because of recent attacks on foreign nationals.
Merrishia Singh-Naicker led a discussion on the importance of having women leaders, as well as how storytelling can be used as a tool to address issues of gender-based violence.
“We discussed how important it is for women to be heard because male voices are still dominant in our society, and I also shared my personal story and experience with gender-based-violence,” she says.
“Where I grew up women were not allowed to have any leadership roles in the church. I wish there had been more women to lead the conference. Our workshop allowed for women to share their stories which forced me to listen, this is important because WYS is a tool that teaches one to ask, listen and tell.”
Seth Naicker says conference attendees engaged in a unique style of worship, where prayer and silence were a major tool in allowing for reflection on important questions of life, faith and community.
“The words of Jesus Christ become central to our pursuit of faith, as we listened to the reading of scriptures which focused on a call to service, love, peace, trust and courage and to pursue that which is noble, just and true,” he says.
“The silence allowed for the practice of rest, and becoming mindful of that which is important. I found myself praying with intentional focus, and truly considering prayerfully the people, places, circumstances and goals I have for myself, my family and broader community.”
Naicker says the WYS workshop received a positive response from attendees with many expressing a willingness to use the tools of WYS to serve in their communities.