SAM 0557-850x637By Kos Umion (abridged report)

 There are currently 44 local Christian Brethren churches (CBCs) in the area surrounding the Green River Christian Centre, adjacent to the Indonesian Province of West Papua. The Good News first came to this remote region in 1954, shortly after the Australian colonial government established a patrol post in what was dubbed as 'Siberia'.

 Discerning church leaders are very worried about today's younger generation. Sunday Schools and youth programmes have lapsed in many churches. Educated young people can't find work, are bored, and many are using marijuana and home-brew alcohol. They are not connecting with the traditional style of Sunday services. Some church leaders have reacted by excluding them from attendance and some youths have openly rebelled. There are divisions that needs healing.

Recognising the need, some concerned young Christians and parents got together in November 2013 to consider ways to engage youth. A 'Youth Arise' program was conceived with quarterly activities planned for 2014. Youth Leadership Capacity Development was identified as a need to plan, resource and make happen. Former 'MK' Geoff Liddle and I were invited to conduct this training, the first session being in August this year. Geoff brought his son-in-law Ben Espie. I encouraged them to run the sessions while I backed up with printing notes and other support.

Preliminary combined church services and welcomes were held from Friday to Sunday 15-17 August and training proper started on Monday. 130 from 38 local churches participated, youths, elders, government officers and village councillors. The theme was Being Examples of Jesus – Biblical Principles for Leaders. The teaching, small group discussions, and interactive group activities were based on Walter C Wright's book Relational Leadership. Kevin White and Geoff had produced a useful workbook based on this for each participant to use.

Jude's letter vv12-13 provided 5 leadership principles as opposites of the bad examples being set. Shepherds feeding themselves instead of providing influence and service; waterless clouds swept along by winds instead of creating vision and hope; fruitless trees in autumn, twice dead and uprooted instead of building character and trust; wild waves of the sea casting up the foam of their own shame instead of developing relationships and using power for good ends; wandering stars for which the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever instead of being dependable and accountable.

Ben shared the core values of their family business, Boxrite Limited which are based on Christian business ethics. He told stories of how these values impacted Polynesian and European employees and strengthened the team spirit. These concepts were new to us and reinforced the concepts of relational leadership. They are: we respect each other; we show empathy to each other; we recognise skill in our team and develop this; we listen without judgement; we acknowledge mistakes but we don't shame, we work through mistakes; we treat each other as we would like to be treated; we act with fairness; we get 'buy in' from the whole team on the future direction of the business; we value ethics and honesty and hold them integral to our success; we are ONE. Geoff emphasised that CBC entities should discuss and formulate our own values suitable to our cultural environment, and not just adopt a western model. The open discussion process was essential and valuable.

In retrospect, we believe our facilitators were led by the Spirit in both their preparation and methods of teaching which opened our eyes to God's intention for servant leadership. Various groups were reconciled with tears of contrition and mutually seeking each other's forgiveness. Geoff and Ben had hardly any free time and ate their meals late as they gave time to counsel youths and leaders alike. The high school invited them to address the whole school assembly and God blessed in a wonderful way as they shared the deliverance story of their son and brother Sam. They were transparent and vulnerable and others were helped.

Please pray that the new 'church – community engagement strategy' will be fruitful; that we shall work together as a unified team allowing for diversity; that the Christian Centre shall be renovated through joint effort; that the November joint activity of a Sunday School teachers course using the CLTC Awana program will be successful; that funding will be forthcoming for photocopying S.S. lesson materials for all our churches in 2015; and for Elizabeth and myself as we continue to help folk here in different ways as well as try and fulfil our national church responsibilities

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