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Methodist youth cross Tasman to boost their faith

By Cory Miller

A contingent of 24 young Kiwi Methodists formed the largest delegation at the 2009 National Christian Youth Convention (NCYC) held in Melbourne from the 3rd to the 9th of January.

Invited by the Uniting Churches of Australia, the New Zealand delegation was headed by the Methodist Church’s national youth coordinator Te Rito Peyroux.

Organisers cheekily called the convention possibly the greatest seven days since Genesis. Its theme was ‘Converge: people gathering under one roof in God’s presence’. About 2000 youth descend upon Melbourne to partake in worship, Bible study, festivals, performances and community work.

The New Zealand delegates were chosen for their commitment to pursue their spiritual pathway beyond the convention. "Every person was awesome, from the start to the end they were fully immersed in the experience of the convention" says Te Rito.

Many of the delegates went to build upon their faith, meet new people and to experience the world.

All returned feeling strengthened by the experience and motivated to become an agent of God within their communities.

Each delegate had differing expectations of the convention but without fail they all returned irreversibly changed for the better by their experience.

Some felt that attending the convention was a way to jump-start their faith journey, a place to find strength and guidance and to be brought closer to God. "I was feeling down and needed to recharge my batteries. I felt a pull towards NCYC and felt compelled to attend, to rejuvenate my spirit." says Filo Tu.

The delegates thought that the presence of many like-minded people would further strengthen their faith’s foundations. "It was my first-time overseas and I wanted to explore, to meet new people and in the process strengthen my faith." says Jessica Rabone.

Traveling to Melbourne was an added bonus for many who had feet itching to travel the globe. "For many of the delegates it was their first time overseas without their families. Their ability to be independent was tested and in the process they gained maturity." says Te Rito.

NCYC went above and beyond the delegates' expectations, as they struggled to find just one highlight. "The experience was one big highlight but if forced I could narrow it down to three: worship, communities and mission." Filo says.

Submersion within Melbourne’s communities showed the delegates first hand the meaning of mission. They saw the church attempting to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor and they were challenged to take action against the many social justice issues that were brought to light at the convention.

"My way of thinking has been changed and I am inspired to help out in the community, to go out into the world sharing God’s message," says Christopher Tupou.

The delegates found a new belief in their ability to make a difference, as they learned something small can generate sufficient impact to create outward moving ripples that will touch others. "You do not have to be rich to make a difference, you just have to take action," Alilia Molitika says.

After the convention all felt strengthened by God and as a result hungered for more experiences of faith. Len Alfred Hura- King says he still hungers for NCYC. "I miss the environment of the convention and would like to experience more, I now feel like I belong to God."

Many were moved with emotion at being a part of such a large group of people, and felt the warmth of the community through the mutual sharing of beliefs and experiences. "I felt the close community each day that I was at the NCYC" says Simulata Pope.

Armed with their new found strength the delegates all hope to continue on with the challenge, committing to God and sharing their experiences with others. They feel motivated to become more involved with their community showing the presence and the reality of God through their actions and the way they live their lives.

"After NCYC I want to remain more open-minded to take action and give things a go in the future, being more active in the community" says Lennard Rei.