Rev’19: Inspiring youth to follow Jesus into the Nation
Entangled in political turmoil, ethno-religious tensions, and systematic human rights abuse, Sri Lanka continues to be plagued by many social ills. As a result, even after the end of three decades of armed conflict, reconciliation and justice have evaded our nation to the detriment of our people and common future.
Young people are the future of the church and the country. Right thinking, equipped, and inspired youth have the potential to be catalysts for much-needed change in Sri Lanka. Sadly, though, over the years, there has been a dearth of Christian youth engaged in the public square. Moreover, the church too has demonstrated sentiments of indifference and an attitude of passivity in the face of social issues.
In response, during 20-22 June 2019, the newly formed NCEASL Youth wing, organized Revolution’19, a gathering to inspire, equip, and mobilise young people to engage in the public sphere and a make a difference in the nation. Accordingly, at Rev’19, around 60 youth were equipped on the biblical mandate for social engagement, sensitised to current social issues, and equipped with practical skills to engage with problems.
During the programme, discussions were held on topics such as our role as Christians in the public sphere, the biblical basis for social engagement, our responsibility toward the nation as Christians, and how we, as Christian youth can become a generation that brings about change in our nation. In addition, workshops were held on advocacy and anti-corruption with the aim of building practical skills in participants to engage with issues. At Rev’19, the participants were also given an opportunity to hear inspirational stories of Christian youth who have engaged in the public square and taken a stand on social issues in Sri Lanka. This proved to be an eye-opener for many participants who shared that they were inspired to engage with issues. Moreover, at Rev’19 the participants were also introduced to two campaigns launched by the NCEASL; MinorMatters, mobilizing youth involvement on religious freedom issues and Act Now, engaging young people in the area of democracy and social change.
At the culmination of Rev’19, participants signed up to join the NCEASL Youth Forum for Social Action, a platform that would unite, equip and mobilise Christian youth in the area of social action. Following the programme, many participants expressed that they were challenged to follow Jesus into the nation to bring about much-needed transformation and renewal.
Godfrey Yogarajah (NCEASL), Savithri Sumanthiran (FOCUS), Noel Berman (Our Daily Bread Ministries), Yamini Ravindran (NCEASL, Attorney-at-law), Prashan De Visser (Sri Lanka Unites/Global Unites), Rev. Raju Bhagwat (Cambodia), Tony Senevirathna (Transparency Intl.), and Raghu Balachandran (NCEASL) spoke at the gathering.