Joining Forces: London Youth Rally 2018
9th November 2018
Sabbath 27 October 2018 saw over 700 people gathered at the Rock Tower in North London for the London Youth Rally. The rally was sponsored and organised by the South England Conference (SEC) Youth Ministries department on behalf of the London Youth Federation. Titled 'Joining Forces', the rally was full of the spirit of oneness, enthusiasm and of compassion which captured the hearts of young people. God was praised through the sharing of real-life experiences faced by the youth, fresh look at the scripture, and a genuine spirit to reach out to one another. There was also a recognition ceremony for those people who are doing independent youth work in London and beyond, celebrating how they have put themselves forward and joined forces with the SEC to minister to the youth. The event was also an opportunity to launch the new SEC Youth Ministries uniform, which was a stepping stone to the General Conference Youth Ministries uniform.
Beginning with a fellowship lunch, the day was fully dedicated to the young people. SEC Youth director Pastor Anthony Fuller gave a warm welcome to everyone and set the tone for the gathering. "For us to reach out to the young people, there is need to join forces. Joining forces with the people out there in the field where work is already being done to elevate the well-being of our youth" he said. He continued to say that he was very pleased with individuals who have not waited for the Conference to send them out into a ministry but have taken their own initiative. "We are all blessed with individual gifts and our unique experiences allows us to reach out to a specific person who otherwise would not be reached", Pastor Fuller added.
Pastor Fuller also commended other pastors who came from other areas to support the day. "Your attendance affirms the high value you have placed on our youth", he said. Present were many pastors including Trans-European Division (TED) Youth Ministries director, Zlatko Musija, British Union Conference (BUC) Youth Ministries director Pastor Dejan Stojkovic and SEC Pathfinder director Pastor Kevin Johns. Pastor Stojkovic spoke to the youth and said, "there is noise everywhere, in the church, at school, everywhere you go, but I encourage you to listen to the voice of Jesus and let it lead you."
One of the individuals to be recognised was Mark Prince and the work he does with young people through The Kiyan Prince Foundation. Catching full attention of the youth with his moving testimony, Mark encouraged the youth to claim their rightful place; children of the King. "You need to connect to where your power comes from, everything is going to feel empty but when you connect with God in your heart, life will have meaning, you will be safe under His wings", he added.
Others who were recognised were the Naz Project which was represented by Paul Bodeau and Marian Wadibia, who reminded everyone of the reality that many of the youth struggle with sexual identity. Their charity provides love and support where often the church rejects. Shaniqua Benjamin was recognised for creating spaces within the community for youth to express themselves through Poetry evenings. Paul Frempong who leads the Boys to Men ministry, focussing on bringing awareness on gangs, drugs and knife cultures. Vanessa Boachie-Appau was recognised for her work through Inside Out, educating people about mental health.
The joint testimonies by real life youth in leadership and mentors Laith Wallace and Andrew Fuller affirmed the spirit of one accord. They drew their experience from the time Laith was unwell and strthuggling with addictions, and his church friends prayed for him. Andrew said, "we believe that when we joined in prayer, God honoured our prayers." Laith added, "we encourage you to make your church friends, your friends during the week too; share your problems, your business ideas, and study the word together." Then the duo reflected on Psalm 78:1-7, "this Psalm calls for the leadership of the Church to tell the youth how God has been there for us, how we were in sin and God brought us back to Him. We need to change presenting the Church as perfect and for perfect people. This would allow young people to feel accepted and relate to us" said Andrew.
This is how Newbold theology student Adriel Mingo summed up the Youth Rally; "What has struck me is the unorthodox or different way in which the team organised the programme. For me it is a great sign of things to come being different from the past. So from the lunch and fellowship first, to the showcasing of people of faith who have done things to impact the community without waiting on the Church to say do this or that, to the interactive segment where volunteers were welcomed to participate in a Pathfinder drilling demonstration, it was a day of change and experimentation, which is exactly what we need going forward!"
Another attendee said, "This was such a powerful gathering that made me feel that the leadership of our Church really wants to connect and collaborate with us, the youth."
At the close of the event Pastor Fuller said, "This was the most well-organised youth event I have been to, where you can see that much thought and planning has been put in with the sole purpose to engage with young people."
[Judith Makaniankhondo Nyirenda ]