The recent CWM Pacific Youth Initiative that started on 3 October was a safe space for the young people to share their stories and challenges and in turn be challenged, empowered and motivated in Coral Coast, Fiji. On the first day, the participants reflected on their journey through COVID-19 and the challenges faced by the youths including panic and fear, contracting COVID-19, lockdowns, loss of jobs, being away from families, and studies and work being affected.

Discussing the perspective of each person in the biblical story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:27-37) during the opening devotion allowed the youths to realize that as church people, they sometimes ignore issues around them and that it is important to lend a helping hand even if the one in need is different from them. Upon reflection, the young people said that the church has an important role to play in such challenging times as they work towards rising to life from the pandemic.

On Tuesday, participants studied Scripture in Genesis 16 and 21 and discussed how Sarah and Hagar, as mothers protected their children. As they continued this discussion, it led them into the sessions on Child Protection and Safeguarding led by the CWM Pacific Programme Associate, Fuata Varea-Singh. Participants discussed what child protection means to them, child protection policies in their churches, and what they can do to protect children. After group discussions, they read and discussed Scripture from 1 Kings 3:16-28, Exodus 2:1-10, and Luke 15:11-32. The eye-opening session allowed youth to express themselves by sharing stories of child abuse they had gone through and their hope that churches can draw up child protections policies and put them into action.

The third day of the programme had the youths travel to Suva, to visit the HART Village in Narere, which houses single mothers, widows, and families in need. The group sang songs, led a devotion session, and shared a meal with the families. The trip to the village helped the youth participants become more aware of the issues people face and the help that is needed, and understand that selfless love is needed to render assistance to the people around them.

The last two days of the Youth Initiative programme included presentations and learning sessions on deep sea mining, ecological stewardship, a beach clean-up, and mangrove planting.  The youth participants in the programme represented CWM member churches in the Pacific region and they were joined by five Kanaky (New Caledonian) youth from Pacific Theological College (PTC), two youths from Kioa (EKT) who are settlers in that island and two youths from the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma. At the close of the event, they issued a statement acknowledging their stewardship of God’s creation, denouncing deep-sea mining, and re-affirmed their spirit of gathering in solidarity, accountability and collaboration, among others.

Dated 19 October 2022