Thursday, January 31, 2008

Amanzi 2008

What a way to start 2008 with Amanzi, the first ever international Christadelphian youth conference. 250 people converged on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa from more than 10 countries. Not only was this the first international youth conference, but it was the biggest youth conference ever held in South Africa. In fact it probably was the biggest gathering of brothers and sisters (which got close to 300 for the breaking of bread) ever witnessed in South Africa.

The youth conference started on the 31/12/2007 with lots of weary travelers from around the world bringing in the new year with a huge celebration of fireworks and incredible fellowship.

It was an action packed week with the main studies being led by Bro. Craig Blewett (South Africa) on "Much much more than you imagine" and Bro. Shane Kirkwood (Australia) on "Lessons from Timothy". The combination of Craig's talks on our Kingdom vision and Shane's talks on lessons for young people was very inspiring.

Besides the main sessions there was a feast of other spiritual activities covering topics such as "Clay" (Barry van Heerden), "The Gospel in our hands: A challenge for a new generation" (Matthew Blewett), "Experiences as a conscientious objector" (Ronnie van Rooyen, Lucas Scheepers).

And then there was a healthy dose of great social and sporting events. This was kicked off on the Wednesday night with the International Theme Night. This was a great event with the young people (and not so young) sporting the dress codes of their countries and supplementing this with dances, plays and other demonstrations of local life. It sure was an eye-opener to everyone to see the strange dress and cultures of so many different countries. It makes us appreciate that we are brought together by a common love of God and relationship through Jesus. Despite our different cultures, ways of dressing, ways of singing we share one faith and one hope.

The big sporting event of the week was the International soccer tournament. After preliminary rounds the final event was a tense affair between Australia and England. With the long-standing rivalry of these countries as the background and claims of match fixing and referee bribes (an Aussie ref at that) England emerged the victors and now proudly hold the first International Youth Conference Soccer Trophy.

However it was the South Africans who managed to beat off a spirited challenge from the "champions" put forward from all the other countries to claim the title of first International Youth conference Extreme Challenge.

Yet despite all of this friendly inter-country rivalry, a great spirit of oneness prevailed through the week as young people from around the world spent an awesome week around God's Word. 2008 has started with so many firsts - first international youth conference, first huge gathering of so many brothers and sisters, first time foreign visitors have outnumbered locals 4 to 1. What a way to start 200Gr8. May God continue to bless us all as we seek to grow in love and share His Good News with many more!