St. Maarten in the Caribbean
May 17-19, 2007
The Caribbean Youth Consultation was held May 17-19 in St Maarten of the Caribbean to equip leaders to begin national youth networks in many island nations. The Consultation went extremely well and those who came said it was: "an anointed time," "for such a time as this," "worthwhile in every respect," "opening doors for reaching youth that we've hungered after for years."
All the outcomes that were originally proposed (italics) have been achieved.
1. At least twenty top Caribbean youth ministry leaders will be trained in principles of networking for the purpose of enhancing youth ministry.
The selection process involved criteria from the WEA Youth Commission and was overseen by the General Secretary of the Caribbean Evangelical Association. He made sure that the leaders chosen to attend were the ones sanctioned by the country’s evangelical church alliance (or equivalent) and would be approved for leadership in a national youth network upon return. Twenty-four such leaders came. One is the leader of an outstanding youth network not previously known to us. Another is coordinating a very successful abstinence campaign. Another coordinates his denomination’s youth and also has a daily radio program. Another is a respected school assembly speaker. One is the leader of youth ministry for the Salvation Army in the Caribbean. Another is a YWAM leader.
2. Key issues related to reaching youth in the Caribbean will be explored.
An animated discussion of needs of Caribbean youth and youth workers produced important observations like: HIV/AIDS (rate is 2nd only to Africa); image of themselves as poor, thus destined to be “receivers”; parents are unchurched; sexual confusion and sexually active at lower ages; prevalence of Satanism and occult; heavy dropout rate. Every delegate went home with a CD full of this information, plus survey results from a “Survey of Sexual Practices of Evangelical Youth” completed in Barbados in 2006.
3. Strategic plans will be developed for Youth Networks in 8-10 Caribbean nations, 4-5 of which will be established in 2007.
The following nine nations of the Caribbean were represented: Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Maarten and Trinidad. Delegates from each of the countries were trained in the principles of networking and worked through a strategic plan. One nation already has an established Network and five more nations are in the process of forming them. The remaining nations want networks but were further removed from active establishment at this time.
4. An Executive Committee for the Caribbean Youth Commission will give oversight to the implementation of strategic plans and accountability.
A Facilitating Committee was appointed consisting of seven leaders from six nations. They committed to gather twice yearly and communicate regularly to insure the accomplishment of overall strategic plans. The Consultation delegates knelt, surrounding these new leaders, for a meaningful time of dedication of the leaders and the plans to the Lord.
5. A follow-up plan will be implemented by the National Network staff in cooperation with the WEA Youth Commission.
The General Secretary of the Caribbean Evangelical Association will be integrally involved with the ongoing plans and follow-through. In fact, for the present, he will chair the Facilitating Committee, which is very helpful, since he has full-time to devote to the Caribbean, and himself, lives in Barbados. Daryl Nuss and I will continue to oversee and follow-up as needed, but this ship has been launched and will likely chart its own course!
This project took a little longer to materialize than expected, but there is much reason to praise the Lord, as the results seem to indicate that all the effort was very well worth it!