When I was 12 years old, I was charged with the duty of secretary to our parish youths office. From that time on, I served the church, locally, nationally and internationally.
My engagement with Mennonite World Conference (MWC) has shaped who I have become as a church leader, husband and father, so I share my story to bring a challenge to the youths of today.
“I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,…your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28).
The prophet depicts a theme of teamwork for both spiritual and physical development in congregations. I challenge youths to bring their strength to help build the church. In turn, churches can incorporate interactive activities to keep the youths motivated to associate with the church.
My election as national secretary of the youths for Kenya Mennonite Conference (KMC) led me to my first MWC trip, to Paraguay in 2009, for the second Global Youth Summit (GYS) where I represented the young adults of KMC.
From these engagements, I gained skills in listening. I learned to offer guidance, a skill which placed me in a position to mediate on several youth courtship processes.
At GYS, I was nominated to be the Africa representative on the youth task force MWC created to envision the Young AnaBaptists (YABs) Network. We worked together to create a blueprint for this worldwide movement for Anabaptist young people. It involved travelling to meetings which really improved my public relations skills and ability to work with other people with different backgrounds.
I learnt a lot from listening to other people’s ideas – a lesson which has been very instrumental in my current church and community activities.
The next challenge was my appointment as the first staff mentor for the first YABs committee. My position was charged with connecting the YABs with the entire MWC family. At times it was challenging, as I had to learn to accommodate everyone’s views to ensure smooth and productive meeting sessions. However, the fellowship in MWC gatherings is healthy: it is more of family get together that bridges the gap between young and old.
Throughout my engagement with the YABs and wider MWC family, I learned that young people face almost the same challenges across the continents. We need a forum for sharing and horizontal learning. MWC creates this space for interaction. It has remained an asset to my work in church with the youths.
Another instrumental skill I got from serving is event planning. Currently, I lead my diocese on planning various events. With the skills I gained, I was able to take the lead role on logistics for MWC’s Renewal 2027 event in Kenya 21 April 2018.
Young people, I urge you to share your gifts. This will help you build your talents in the house of the Lord. We need to bear one other’s burdens and in this way fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
—Ayub Omondi Awich is a member of Boya Church in Ahero Parish, Kenya Mennonite Conference. He is married to Dorothy Achieng Omondi for 10 years. They are blessed with two boys (Moses Adongo, John Terry) with a third child on the way.