By Katie Furrow
Collect. Plant. Grow. Tend. When we came together as a group for Young Adult Conference over Memorial Day weekend, our focus during worship, workshops, and small groups was on these four themes. Overall, we reflected on and discussed how we can take the negative and painful “thorns” of our world and transform them into “joyful action” meant to bring God’s kingdom into this world.
As young adults, we have been uniquely blessed and challenged with this role. We find ourselves in a difficult time filled with thorns–few of us have known a life that hasn’t been consistently colored by the impact of war, we have watched as our planet and its inhabitants struggle with the impact of climate change, and most recently we have become witnesses to the corruption and brutality of forces meant to keep us safe. We have been told that our generation is doomed to fail when it comes to making a positive difference in any of these challenges, and sometimes it’s easy to believe that there is truth in that statement. Sometimes it’s easy to let the thorns take over.
However, when events like Young Adult Conference happen, those thorns get pruned back, as we are rejuvenated in the hope of our future and of the role of young adults who are going to make positive change happen. This is most evident to me in the creativity in young adults’ approach to handling the problems of our world. During workshops, we talked about topics ranging from beating Boko Haram by addressing literacy, to how we can use comic book characters to help us better understand our roles in society. We’ve been given the responsibility to make the world a better place in spite of some fairly high odds, and it is this creativity that is going to make the difference; after all, unique challenges call for a unique response.
Over the course of the weekend, we discussed the little things we can do in our own lives, through relationships and spiritual practices, that can lead to the joyful action to which we are called. These little things were the most inspiring, as they served to remind us that any act, no matter how small, can still have an untold effect on the world.
Through shared experiences like Young Adult Conference, we are able to come together to combat the negative aspects of our world that so often hold us back. We are able to plant new ideas, and we are equipped with resources to grow and tend new movements.
And through all of this, we emerge with a new sense of empowerment and ability to face the challenges that are ahead.
— Katie Furrow of Monte Vista Church of the Brethren in Callaway, Va., has been serving through Brethren Volunteer Service at the Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C.