The walls were the trees of the forest, the lights and sound from solar-powered batteries and the waters for baptism were the river itself. The spirit of worship through singing, the fervent prayers and the calls to follow Jesus, our hope, in the way of peace are familiar across cultures. Mennonite young people in Myanmar gathered 13-17 April 2023 for a peace conference in Akaw, Bogale Township in the Delta region.
The conference focused on Ephesians 2:17: the gospel of peace.
The subject is very relevant for young people living through the trauma of civil war in Myanmar.
After democratic national elections, the military in Myanmar seized power and installed their own leaders in February 2021. They responded with violence to pro-democracy protests which soon developed their own militias.
“We don’t want our youth to get involved in armed revolution,” says Amos Chin, Mennonite church leader and conference presenter.
“As these young people are living in the civil war and threatening by the extremists, they are strongly inspired and empowered by the message [of peace during the conference],” says John Stanley Puia, church leader and conference organizer.
“All youth are convinced [about] the peace movement and made a declaration for peace not to get in armed revolution and political confliction,” says Amos Chin. He was one of four evangelists who spoke to the youth.
“We need more peace conferences and more peaceful programs for the unpeaceful generation,” says John Stanley Puia.
168 youth between ages 16 and 35 registered for the weekend conference that included baptism of seven people.