From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] 'We cannot wait until tomorrow'

Date Thu, 28 Aug 2003 14:39:27 -0500

Note #7905 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

'We cannot wait until tomorrow'
August 28, 2003

'We cannot wait until tomorrow'

Churches must empower, support young activists, WCC is told

By Jerry L. Van Marter
Ecumenical News International

GENEVA - Young people can change the world if churches give them the time and
space to organize for action, leaders of the World Council of Churches were
told on Aug. 27.

"Young people know the world is inherently unfair and unjust," Tale Hungnes,
the leader of Changemaker, the largest political youth organization in
Norway, told the WCC Central Committee during a hearing on youth. "And they
are eagerly seeking the tools to change the structures and address the root

Matome Makgoba, the president of the Youth Forum of the South African Council
of Churches, outlined some of the problems confronting young people in his
country - including unemployment, AIDS, drugs, crime and violence and teenage
pregnancy. "The church has to open time and space for young people to find
their way through these dangers and to express themselves," he said.

Although the thrusts of their organizations are different - primarily
HIV/AIDS for Makgoba and global economics for Hungnes - their messages were
much the same: Empower the young and put their passions and energies to work.

"Young people play an important role in awareness-building, home health care
and organizing services," Makgoba said, "because persons with HIV/AIDS are
discriminated against, stigmatized and isolated ... Youth must be prepared
for leadership today. We cannot wait until tomorrow."

Hungnes' message was equally urgent. He noted with rhythmic snaps of his
fingers that a child dies of hunger every three seconds. "Our young people
see that charity alone cannot change the world, that politics and solidarity
can," she said.

Changemaker has focused on Third World debt and its root causes, and provided
ample opportunities for young people to get involved. "We try to make it fun
to change the world," she said.

Changemaker is now trying to persuade the government of Norway to be the
first in the world to address the plight of countries mired in "dictator
debt" because of plundering despots. Hungnes said the group is publishing an
album of the 25 worst cases, with photos of the culprits and details on the
harm done by their regimes.

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