Reflections on the 2018 youth conference in Paris

By Natalie Ziyi Scherer
English-Speaking United Methodist Church of Vienna

**Editor's Note - The following reflection was shared during worship at the English-Speaking United Methodist Church of Vienna on Sunday, 11 November 2018. ESUMC is an AICEME member church.

Last weekend four youth from our church were fortunate enough to attend this year’s AICEME Youth Conference in Paris. The theme this year was “Unite”. On the first evening we heard a talk from Pastor Victor from the American Church in Paris. He reminded us that God calls us to pay attention and to open our eyes to see the people in need all around us. Every morning we packed an extra sandwich which we gave to a person in need while we were out doing various activities. Another day we learned how difficult it is being a refugee and applying for asylum. We played a game designed by refugees where we were forced to go back when we landed on certain tasks. The whole weekend was very rewarding and we got to meet many young Christians from around Europe.

What resonated with me the most during the conference was the talk we heard on serving God. We heard the passage from Matthew 20:20-28.

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”  “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The point of the talk was to tell us that we should be asking ourselves “what can I do to serve God”. We should sacrifice everything and serve, just as Jesus did when he came to serve and give his life as a sacrifice for us. The sentence “what can I do to serve God?” has stuck with me ever since I first heard it. After pondering on this statement for a while, it reminded me of something else I learnt a while back. I learnt that all of our relationships are centered around what these relationships can do for us. But we should love everyone equally and not just because of what we can benefit from them. We are always searching for a way that others can help us. Instead, we should be helping others. The statement “what can I do to serve God?” serves as reminder that we should make our decisions in life based on how they can help us serving others and not on how others can serve us. As we experienced last weekend it is not difficult helping others.

And the end of the conference everyone had the opportunity to share their testimonies and reflections on the weekend. Many spoke about how rewarding just handing out a sandwich to someone in need was and that all it took was one extra minute in the morning preparing a second meal. I always thought that helping those in need was a big thing that was super difficult and took a lot of time and energy.  In reality, it is really simple.

I am very grateful for the opportunity we had last weekend in Paris. We learnt so much about God and how we can become better Christians. We met other like-minded young people from around the world and came together to worship. It was very rewarding and has strengthened my faith. I am thankful for ESUMC enabling us to take part in this year’s conference. I hope those taking part in the coming years will find it as rewarding as I did.