“Do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:2 (ESV)
Last weekend, over 400 youth and young adults from our BUV multicultural churches attended the 5th IGNITE 2019 Conference at Syndal Baptist Church. It was an amazing opportunity for the 1.5 and 2nd generation migrant young people to organise the two day conference and join together to celebrate the diversity of our church communities – worshipping God together as one and many.
The IGNITE theme this year was “TRANSFORMED”. We saw many young people (and their leaders) from different cultures, nations and tribes come together to learn how God can transform us from the inside out and in turn, transform our communities and the world!
Our first day started with conversations over a sausage sizzle provided by the young adults from Lautu Baptist Church. Many of our participants were meeting one another for the very first time and connected over the warm food on a cold Melbourne day.
The team from Australian Zotung Church helped guide the traffic with big smiles as the church progressively filled with expectant participants and their leaders.
The conference began with Rev Billy Jangala Williams who led us in the Acknowledgement of Country in Gamilaraay language.
David Devine and Meewon Yang from the BUV Church Health team, welcomed everyone to the conference. David said: “The church can be innovative and church can be multicultural, and no matter who we are or where we come from, we come together as one body of Jesus.”
Coopy Bly, a multi-award winning gospel artist from Uganda, kicked off the first session with a lively performance and New Vision Baptist Church led us with powerful worship. 30 minutes into the conference, the auditorium was buzzing with energy from the crowd.
We then had the privilege to hear from not just one keynote speaker, but three wonderful speakers from an intercultural family. Tarquin Neilsen shared with us that it was his first time preaching to a big crowd (he is only 11!). He delivered a clear and confident message of his personal experiences of being transformed in Romans 12:2. In his words: “From my very existence, I’ve gone to church, and it has been a great experience”. His parents, Sulari and Peter Nielsen, also shared what it’s like having an intercultural marriage and growing faith through different heritage.
The rest of the afternoon was jam-packed with workshops and electives where our presenters led the young people in bible reflection and small group activities. “I had the privilege of leading a Bible reflection on Romans at IGNITE. I was immensely blessed by the attentiveness of the young adults and their keenness to participate in the discussion. Their eagerness to learn is a sign of God’s transforming work in their lives.” commented Siu Fung Wu, a lecturer from Whitley College.
In the evening, Croydon Hills Baptist Church prepared a delicious beef stew meal for us. After dinner, Rev. Billy Williams shared his story to encourage us to value our cultures and how God has made us. The night was capped off with an energetic performance from Vee&Josh and K-pop dancing by Bentleigh Koreans. At the end, everyone stood to their feet and there was a lot of (Baptist) dancing for the rest of the night!
The second day was another diverse and exciting time for our young people! The breadth of the sessions and topics led by our presenters, the sense of energy and the involvement from our churches, truly demonstrated how important it is for us to be Together on Mission and to sow into our next generation.
“I found hope through this conference for making space for voices of young people who carry their cultural heritage. They are bridges in many ways between two worlds, that of their parents and their own. I enjoyed seeing a growing network, friendship and discipling in their local communities.” Meewon said.
Participants arrived wearing their cultural/traditional clothes to celebrate and acknowledge that our cultural diversity is an important part of God’s creation. We enjoyed cultural performances from Westgate Karen Baptist Church, The Terminal Church and Wodonga Congolese Baptist Church. And of course more food was enjoyed, this time by Bentleigh Korean Baptist Church, serving us beef bulgogi.
Workshops such as Learning about Indigenous Cultures, Spiritual Practices and Disciplines and Sharing your faith, sought to equip our young people in their discipleship as they continue to navigate questions about faith and culture.
Rev Petone Toelieu of Terminal Baptist Church, closed off the conference with Communion. Charlene Delos Santos, one of the Ignite Conference organisers shared, “As we took Communion together, I was moved to tears. I was reminded of the scripture from Revelation 7:9 where every nation, tribe, people and languages were standing before the Throne and before the Lamb. It was beautiful to watch so many diverse groups come together and worship our Creator. I was also moved by the emerging generation of young people and leaders passionate about serving their Lord.”
We hope to see the IGNITE conference continue growing to be a safe space and platform for our 1.5 and 2nd generation migrant young people as they seek to develop their voice and contribute to our wider BUV movement.Watch and share the IGNITE 2019 highlights video with your friends!