By David Brock, Redmond, OR, USA
Do not turn away in pride, fear, or guilt from the One who seeks only the best for you and your loved ones. Come before your Eternal Creator with open minds and hearts and discover the blessings of the gospel anew. Be vulnerable to divine grace. —Doctrine and Covenants163:10b
I had opportunity to travel to Ndola, Zambia, in August 2015 to help staff the first of three International Youth Forums in Africa. We focused on the theme “Courage.” One hundred youth from Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, and Zambia gathered with staff from those nations, as well as Colombia and the United States.
We spent the week exploring the identity, message, mission, and beliefs of Community of Christ. The event began with an honest and challenging message by President Veazey. He closed his letter with these words: “The way forward is to take steps toward God’s vision for human life and creation. And taking such steps requires courage!”
The days of the Forum included classes on courage by Apostles Bunda Chibwe and Mareva Arnaud, Bishop Steve Kellogg, Disciple Formation Minister Janné Grover, and me. The rest of the time was for recreation and exercise led by Ervelyne Bernard (when she wasn’t serving as interpreter), table companionship, and small-group work. Then there was the music—so much lively and spirit-filled music—as Joey Williams and Janné introduced attendees to the multi-lingual, multi-cultural hymnal, Community of Christ Sings.
So much music as we claimed our identity with drums and clapping and dancing. So much music as we sang our story by blending voices in the languages of Africa, the official church languages of English, Spanish, and French, as well as in the languages of our Judeo-Christian heritage—Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.
The too-soon-ended experience closed with a moving worship experience. We heard the good news preached by Mission Center President Catharine Mambwe. We wrote prayers on flags for display at World Conference 2016. (If you were there, did you see them?) We walked a labyrinth which the youth had learned about during the week. We received the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and had opportunity to express our “commitments to courage” as we looked to the future.
Prayer for Peace
Compassionate God, grant us courage to get past our discomfort caused by change. Grant us a vision of the future that may take us through unfamiliar territory. Grant us a yearning to discover new ways to share the peace of Christ.
Spiritual Practice: Many Names of God
In many languages, God’s name contains the sound “Ahhh,” a sound we make when we are breathing out or sighing. Our prayer will use the Ahhh names for God with a gentle arm movement that opens us to God’s presence. Begin with hands in front of you at chest level and move them up and in a large arc or circle as you breathe out each name for God. You may either speak the name of God or find a single musical note to hold or chant as you sing God’s name. Pray or sing each name several times as you call on the God of many names: Yahweh, Adonai, Jehovah, Yeshua, Sophia, Allah, Alpha, Omega, Abba. Say or sing “Amen” to close.
Today, Sophia, I will go on an adventure for peace and sing as I go.