Youth Anchored in Christ is our attempt to catch on to where the Spirit is moving and if we keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, we are sure to see amazing things happen in our own countries and throughout the whole world.
Taiwan, 1st ISAO Youth Leaders Conference
National CCR Youth Leader, Australia
The mysterious unfolding:
I have grown to love God’s direction and timing, but I am also very curious by nature, which has become quite an interesting mix in my recent faith and prayer life. For example, when I received a phone call out of the blue from the chairperson of the CCR for Australia, I was immediately intrigued. I had just finished a youth ministry position of 8 years, and had no immediate direction other than a sense that God wanted space in my life for…something. Much of my prayer time had been asking God to fill me in on the plan or at least drop a few clues, and of course finishing with a well-rehearsed sigh of – “but I trust you Lord and will follow wherever you lead me.”
The phone call was rather brief and I was asked if I could pray about traveling to Taiwan in few months’ time for a youth conference with the CCR. After a late evening conversation with my wife and a short night’s sleep, I had responded yes and was soon looking up flights to Taipei (the capital of Taiwan). My only knowledge of Taiwan was that much of my childhood clothing had a ‘Made in Taiwan’ tag, and that it might have been somewhere near China, but the idea of an adventure had caught my attention and I was ready to find out exactly why I was being sent overseas.
On the 5th of April 2018, I landed in Taipei a day early for the conference, and spent the morning looking around and discovering the foreign city. With very little English, traffic on the wrong side of the road, and a drastic change of cuisine, it was fair to say I was right out of my comfort zone…which is right where God likes me to be. After a day of touring the city, I was relieved to arrive at the venue for the conference, and shown to my room on the 8th floor of the convent in Taoyuan. The conference was to start first thing in the morning and I was still no more connected to why I was here, or what this youth conference would be about.
The Spirit brings love and unity
There was an instant rapport between the thirty odd young travelers who were met for the first time at breakfast. The only assumed information we had about each other was that we all had a love of Jesus and the fire of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. There is a saying that I have held onto since I started practicing my faith – ‘The Jesus in me loves the Jesus in you’. This circumstance was no different to many others in my life, where people of faith are able to instantly bond and connect to each other, knowing that the love of Christ is there to override any differences or awkwardness that there may have been. Before the first session had even started, a certain joy and peace was flowing in the atmosphere of the young leaders who had gathered.
The only assumed information we had about each other was that we all had a love of Jesus and the fire of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.
The first session answered many of the questions I had about being in Taiwan, and it turned out that I was not alone in being unaware of the exact purpose of the ISAO youth conference. In fact, I soon found out that a youth body for the CCR in Asia Pacific did not yet exist, so I felt a little more at ease for knowing nothing of it. It was only a few months prior, that the ISAO leaders had met in Singapore on the 8th of December 2017, and had discerned that there was a need for youth body to be established. It was now four months later, and I was sitting in a room with 30 other youth leaders from around the globe, and it was our purpose to dream and discern what a youth body for the CCR in Asia Pacific might look like…what a privilege!
With our purpose for the conference clearly stated, the newly formed community of believers were now united and excited for the days ahead. The next two days, however, had little mention of this purpose and instead we feasted on prayer, formation and holy Eucharist, as well as many servings of praise and worship. By the time we reached the third day of the conference our hearts were full of the love of God, just as our stomachs were full of the amazing catering of the Taiwanese people who hosted us. We had bonded closely in the presence of Christ and, united in the Spirit, we were ready to hear his will for us and for the youth in Asia Pacific.
Youth Anchored in Christ (YAIC):
It was amazing to witness the unfolding of the way forward for the youth body. The conference split into four focus areas; Youth and Media, Prophetic Discernment, Intercession, and Leadership Formation. After only a few hours, a vision was set along with specific paths forward in each of the focus areas. Following a prophetic word, a name for the youth body was proposed and agreed upon, and it felt divinely provident that the youth body was baptized with a name on the feast day of the divine mercy. Youth Anchored in Christ (YAIC) was a fitting title for where the Lord was guiding us, and it not only pointed towards the vision for youth in Asia Pacific, but also spoke of the amazing unity of faith that we had experienced throughout the conference.
Along with a buzz of excitement for the unfolding of a way forward, there was also a sense that this was our last day of the conference and we would soon be departing back to our respective countries. God’s Spirit had been moving powerfully throughout the conference and we had all experienced the love of being united as brothers and sisters in Christ. A tension was felt between the hesitation of leaving the mountain top experience of Taiwan, and the excitement of bringing the fire of the Spirit back to our homelands.
As I reflected upon the conference on the flight back to Australia, I smiled at the divine plans of our Father in Heaven. Not only had he created a space in my work life to be able to say yes to the conference, but it seemed he had orchestrated a whole channel of events in the lives of young leaders throughout the Asia Pacific to bring us all together. I have no doubt that his divine conducting is far broader than what I experienced at the conference and that the Spirit is very busy setting fire to our young people in all corners of the globe. Youth Anchored in Christ is our attempt to catch on to where the Spirit is moving and if we keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, we are sure to see amazing things happen in our own countries and throughout the whole world.