I had another good, full day at the Global Youth Summit. After breakfast with Maria, my Canadian roommate Janelle, and Paraguayan Mennonite boys at the delicious Messiah College cafeteria, we went to the Asian worship service. Many on the Asian worship team wore traditional clothing from their country, and I was delighted to see 2 girls in yukata, a Japanese outfit similar to a kimono but made of cotton. At the end of the session, someone shared about Sangmin Lee, the first Mennonite conscientious objector in South Korea, being imprisoned for that decision. The whole crowd clapped after hearing Sangmin’s story. After the service, people were invited to write letters to him in the back, and dozens did. I was in Korea, working alongside Mennonites supporting Sangmin, and remember the process of him making the decision, telling his parents, going to court, and then going to jail. In South Korea all able-bodied men have mandatory military service for about 2 years. If they refuse, they go to jail. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been doing that for some years, but Sangmin was the first Mennonite to do so. It will affect his ability to get a job, but I think the Mennonites will employ him or help him when he is released.
For the next session, we got in groups and discussed our unique gifts. It was very interesting to hear what everyone said for themselves, as our groups were very diverse with people from around the world. For myself, I said I’ve been gifted with the motivation to learn language when I’m in a setting that uses that language. A speaker said sometimes we don’t realize we have certain spiritual gifts until we need them. I think that can be true for me about my linguistic motivation. I was interested in different languages but never near as passionate and dedicated to learning them as when I started living abroad.
In the afternoon, I went to a workshop about interfaith dialogue. I occasionally interact with Buddhists in Korea, and there are definitely ways shamanism and Buddhism are integrated in Korean culture, so I think this was helpful for me. I don’t know a lot about Buddhism and I think it would be valuable for me to learn more to better be able to dialogue with Buddhists and share my beliefs. The day wrapped up an African worship service!
Tomorrow, the last day of the Global Youth Summit, I will lead an evening activity entitled “Life Experiences in Japan and Korea.” It’s fun for me to think about stories to share. I pray that it will be meaningful for those who come.