Global Youth Summit Day 1

My friend Maria first told me about a Global Youth Summit, a 3-day gathering of Mennonite youth from around the world before Mennonite World Conference. I signed up, excited to meet new people from around the world. Since Korea is a pretty homogenous, I get excited about opportunities to be around groups of diverse people. At the Global Youth Summit so far, I’ve met youth from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Burma, Taiwan, Paraguay, and Mexico. I heard there are 700 people here, from 40 different countries. It’s interesting to me to meet the Mennonites from Mexico and Paraguay, because many of them are Caucasian like me. They had to leave the countries they were in and find a new land they could live with their beliefs. I know my ancestors did that as well, leaving Russia and the Ukraine and eventually making it to the US.
I went to one workshop that talked a lot about the history of the European Mennonite Church. I know a little bit about the history, but if I had to explain it to someone (like, for example, my children), I would struggle to get it done accurately. I should ask my parents! :-) I think living for Christ in the present is the most important priority, but I also think we can learn a lot from the past. It was not a small thing for our ancestors to leave their country because they were being persecuted or forced to fulfill duties they couldn’t because of their beliefs. That is completely different than my relocation to Korea.
I hope to learn more today about Mennonites around the world and what it means to be a Mennonite in the international setting. When I was at Mennonite Convention in Kansas City a few weeks ago, I was really struck by what it meant for me to be raised in the Mennonite tradition, and how it has influenced my thoughts and actions even as I reevaluate Mennonite values in my adult life, living in South Korea. Simple living in a country where luxury goods and new cars are the norm, and looks are so highly valued that pictures are attached to job applications.  Peacebuilding in a country that is technically at war and has mandatory military service. My first two years I’ve done a lot of assimilating into Korean culture and I think it’s important to respect culture and work within it, but I want to pray and discern about how God wants me to live.

By Anna Engle