At a time when millions of people are suffering the direct effects caused by the new coronavirus pandemic, young Seventh-day Adventists in South America have developed creative strategies to bring help and comfort to those in need. In particular, these activities intensified the week which preceded Global Youth Day, celebrated on March 20.
Over the past few days, they have participated in a series of challenges, either online or in person - always following the appropriate virus protection guidelines - to show their concern for others. “The mission is not quarantined. The mission does not stop. The mission continues. And despite the difficulties, young people have grown and have been surprised by the potential and the different actions they have undertaken”, underlines Pastor Carlos Campitelli, Director of the Youth Ministry for eight countries in South America.
In the conversation highlighted below with the Adventist South American News Agency (ASN), he details the challenges facing the current scenario and the opportunities that have opened up with the intense use of the internet to reach and make a difference in the lives of people known and unknown, who live near or miles away.
What is the central tone of this year's World Adventist Youth Day?
With the title Reaching Cultures, Colors and Communities, the emphasis is on Revelation 14, which calls us to take this message to every nation, tribe, language and people. Worldwide, young people will be the protagonists of this message and will help as many people as possible in their localities, regardless of color, race or social status. This is the great mission of the youth.
Youth projects often take place on the streets. What changes this year?
With safety, protection and all the necessary care, several actions are underway in person. They used their creativity to serenade people who no longer attend church meetings; helped abandoned animals; they prayed with people - in person or online, collected clothes and also donated blood. Everything to demonstrate that love has no limits.
Last year, the lockdown and measures against the coronavirus came during the Global Youth Day period . At the time, we adapted the challenges to be carried out mostly in a digital way, with initiatives such as visitation and online calls.
In churches where it is possible to have meetings on Saturday, with due care, young people will celebrate the challenges that have been accomplished throughout this week. The motivation for members is to observe and understand the importance of young people and the mission they fulfill. In the afternoon, they will also carry out some actions, many online and others in person, and in several places there will be virtual vigils of praise, adoration, consecration, with a strong call to prepare for Holy Week, which is approaching.
What service opportunities open up with virtual actions and the use of the internet?
Last year the potential for a good use of social networks and the Internet for preaching was clearly demonstrated. By migrating most of the actions to the virtual environment, this experimental initiative included Bible classes, Bible studies via WhatsApp and numerous alternatives that young people also adopted to get directly involved in the Church's mission.
In addition, other actions to help the community were carried out, whether social or emotional support for families, the elderly and children. Many opportunities arose that they embraced. And, of course, as they are young and they surf the internet like fish in water, they know how to do it, they are experts in that. What we do is encourage them to be salt on the web and take advantage of every opportunity.
We believe that their involvement has even grown with this reality of using the internet. They have, in fact, taken a leading role in many churches, have been and continue to be protagonists in the transmission, in creative and innovative alternatives for the preaching of the message.
On such challenging days, what does it mean to be a living sermon for others?
It means going beyond words, going beyond speech. Be the hands and feet of Christ, in a real and effective way in meeting the needs and fulfilling the mission for those who need it most. It means being the message of the Bible that many will have the opportunity to read, which is the life of a person transformed by Christ, His power and His grace.
How can youth be a light in your community?
Not hiding, not just being within four walls. Young people enter the church to worship and leave to the community to serve and be light. For the light to shine, they need to go where the difficulty is and demonstrate who they are from an experience with Christ, through service to others, radiating the light of Jesus to other people.
These are opportunities that young people have to be light in their community when they realize that there are ways for them to overcome barriers, not only physical, but also motivational. With that, they will be missionaries beyond Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and they will be light to the ends of the earth.