Beyond Borders: Friendship and Faith
By Marjorie Engcoy, PH20 - Fiji
“Life, for all its confrontations, is the art of encounter.”
The program was born as the COVID-19 cases surged at the beginning of 2021. When the team started brainstorming about this gathering, we talked about the challenges we were facing during the pandemic and how we can continue to minister to the young people in our mission areas. We saw that the digital platform could assist us to continue this ministry since most of the youths of today have a presence online. This platform also enables us to extend our reach further.
Using the learnings from last year’s module, the team has launched CIYE’s program for this year. This year, we are working on the theme, “Beyond Borders: Friendship and Faith” and will run for seven (7) months. The first session was held last April 9. Participants looked into the topic of ‘peace’, a word that is almost elusive in the world today. Using the ‘See-Judge-Act’ framework, the young people reflected and shared among themselves guided by a few critical questions about peace, its presence/absence, and how it can be reached. A youth did say that “peace can be achieved when I start within myself. I cannot talk about peace to others if I don’t have it within me. It is radiated to others so that others will also find peace. I would love to see my place and the people around me see and experience it. But at this time, I can only hope and pray for it.” As a facilitator, I find this kind of encounter as another waking moment as the world is filled with technological and political noise, concerts of war, and parades of intensified natural calamities. Listening to the young people speak and act on these issues passionately gives the world a glint of hope. It also tells me that God’s voice is still heard amidst the noise.
As friendship is at the core of the program, the organizers further hope that it would extend to sharing and strengthening our faith in God beyond the confines of our borders. We are oceans and time zones apart, but it should not stop us from establishing God-founded connections.
The team hopes that this gathering will be a safe space to meet and encounter the “other”. And that this would be the beginnings of an encounter of sharing the faith that leads to friendship.