Bern, May 20, 2014. [CD- EUDNews ]. A special convention was held in Florence from May 1-4 for everyone involved in the Inter-European Kids In Discipleship project of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Kids in Discipleship (KID) is a project aimed at supporting families and the church, educating the youth to be disciples of Jesus, not only by being members of a church.
"The convention was organized with the purpose of bringing together families and trainers who participated in the KID project in the EUD Unions since the project began in our region. The primary objective was to celebrate the successes and experiences, to share the challenges that we encounter every day and encourage each other for the future", says Elsa Cozzi, Children's Ministry Director and Event Manager.
This convention also included families and individual members who have an interest in finding new ideas and strategies to help their children re-discover their place as disciples of Jesus.
Also present at the Convention were some department and ministries leaders that are connected with the KID project and discipleship: Mario and Maria-José Brito with Ministerial Association and Shepherdess, Paul Benini with Personal Ministries and Sabbath School, and Barna Magyarosi with the Ministry of Families and Education in the Inter-European Region. All have contributed to the success of this event.
Some of the guests were Linda Koh, Director of the General Conference Children's Ministry (CHM), Don MacLafferty, executive director of Kids World Ministry in Discipleship, Bonita Shields, Sabbath School director for ages 9-16, Dr. Kiti Freier Randall, neuro-psychologist and researcher at the International Child Development and Risk Behaviour of adolescents. From the Trans-European Region (TED), there were Clair Sanches (CHM and Women’s Ministry) and her husband John with a new and successful evangelism project for families called "Messy Church".
Topics covered in the workshops and planning sessions focused on family, relationship with parents and children, spiritual nurturing, all on discipleship training.
Among some topics: “Being and Making Disciples: the focal point of the whole church”, “How to intentionally motivate, organize and instruct children, youth and adults to become united and committed to become disciples of Christ”, “Building Bridges Between Generations”, “How can the Children's Sabbath School help build this bridge?”, “Kids, Families & Church: Risk, Strength & Relationship”, Youth often engage in behaviours that threaten their health and wellbeing. Furthermore, many youth are leaving the church, how can we address the issue of youth at risk and strengthen relationships? The youth are our present and future. Another course offered was “How Children Learn”, how to best approach the children based on their ability and their way of learning.
KID Union directors mainly organized the event, including Mariarosa Cavalieri from the Italian Union, Catherine Cazan from the Swiss-French and Ticino Conference, Samuel De Abreu from the Portuguese Union and Pascal Rodet from the French-Belgian Union. There was one person we could depend on to fill-in when needed for different meetings, and that was Monica De Paolis, Dr. Bucatin of Canarini in Corsia, We also had the privilege of having the worship team lead by Timmy and Sabrina Minò with Liana Parvan, Mariarosa and Monica. "I thank all the volunteers for their service giving liberally of their time and resources. Any such event could never take place without the valuable contribution of volunteers." says Elsa Cozzi.
The program was for families with children of various age groups. The goal was "to be inter-generational and family friendly”. Guest speakers took this into account as they shared the way of discipleship starting with the children and youth in the churches and in the community. There was also a special workshop for the youth, by Linda Koh and Monica De Paolis, to learn how to share the message of salvation with friends and classmates.
"This Convention is a dream come true, with many hours of preparation and a lot of hard work by all involved” says Elsa Cozzi. There were many unexpected twists and turns during the preparation period and also during the Convention itself but in the end we can say that everything turned out for the best.
The participants, young and old, enjoyed every moment of the program. Surprisingly, the youth arrived at the meetings on time and actively participated in various activities, thanks mainly to the speakers that were prepared for an inter-generational audience.
All those present walked out of the convention full of hope and good ideas to take home to their family and churches. Those who have not yet been to a KID Convention, have expressed interest and willingness to be part of it soon.
"The EUD KID Convention was indeed a historical one," said Linda Koh "Its strength was the inter-generational participation of adults and children in all the activities." "Thank you, Elsa Cozzi for your vision in bringing these families together and to inspire them to disciple their children. My prayer is that more unions, conferences and churches will participate in this initiative. It is a discipleship-making initiative!" says Linda Koh.
"I praise God for the many families across EUD who have been discipling their children to Jesus through the Kids In Discipleship ministry", affirmed Don Mac Lafferty. "May God take the witness of these families who have changed their lives, and inspire thousands of families to invest their time to grow as disciples of Jesus right in their home!" continues Don Mac Lafferty and concludes: "I loved the fellowship at the Convention, I enjoyed it all including the worship service, the learning together and growing together. The Presence of God was in that place."
The KID Ministry has been part of the EUD for 5 years. It was not always easy to take this path of discipleship, especially in favour of our children. The project requires commitment and lifestyle changes that are not always easy to achieve. Being a follower of Jesus requires daily commitment and perseverance. Our hectic lives sometimes limit us and we have to make detours or slow down. But if we believe this is the right way, the Lord will take us by the hand and lead us and our families.
"As trainers, we pledge to continue to raise awareness among parents, mentors, pastors and members of the community about their responsibilities as spiritual models for children." says Elsa Cozzi. "Jesus calls us all to be disciples and eagerly awaits our answer."
KID Convention: Some Comments
The KID Convention held in Florence last May 1-5, was a project aimed at empowering and at discovering or re-discovering our path to be a disciple of Jesus. As parents we should help our children and lead them in the same direction. Below are some comments from those attending the convention.
"It was a great experience, I would say it was unforgettable and to be repeated in the near future!" said Doralina Pomana Franconi. "Now, the thing that makes me happy is to see my daughter's smile and the joy of sharing special moments, to hear her say that she would like to attend another meeting like this one, she already misses the convention."
"It gave me the push to carry this project forward and make it a reality. My children also liked it. It has all been a very positive experience!" said Michela Olteanu.
"In programs like these, focused on the family with children and youth, it was a really nice experience, especially the quality of the meetings," said Pastor Michael Abiusi. "I think families should be encouraged to live the KID project in their communities."
Giannino Peloni, one of the participants said: "In my opinion, it was the first time ever that I attended an Adventist conference. I noticed it was well organized, both in management and speakers. I started off a bit hesitant, I didn’t know what to expect... but I must say it was very good, thanks to the people who made me feel at ease. I think the job was well done!"
"I enjoyed a nice family atmosphere and everyone was so involved. It was great to see how we can develop a new kind of church for children, where they can be leaders and involved in many fronts," Michele Sebastianelli.
"I've always believed in the KID project and living with it in the 10 families for a whole year, I realized even more the importance of this Convention, and we have seen results in some of the families right here present," said Clarissa Civardi Sebastianelli. Now that the convention is over and we have all come back to reality, I praise God with all my heart for letting me spend some unforgettable days, for making me grow spiritually with my family," says Clarissa Civardi Sebastianelli. "I was particularly impressed by the cheerfulness of the children who wanted to sing, play, talk, all without any inhibition thanks to the generous time and space given to them. This has made them stronger and more involved."
"We had a great time, surprisingly relevant for both adults and children (not easily done, to say the least) and we reflected on the importance of discipleship, and the value of the family as the place to first meet Jesus," says Chiara Cupertino, "and then we had so much fun."
"During the whole programme: the songs, the prayers, the message, they were all designed to meet the different generations," says Mariarosa Cavalieri, one of the coordinators of the program.
"For me, this meeting was the very first contact with KID. It was all interesting and inspiring. I gained a lot", declared Paolo Benini, Personal Ministries Director at the Inter-European Division.
"As long as we can, we should take the opportunity to do good", quotes Monica De Paolis “it is something we should do everyday of our lives”.
"In my opinion, the most relevant point was the ability of having the kids involved during the worship service as a family according to the "Messy Church" model. It was inspiring to see how to involve kids and teens in a creative way, that not only disciples them, but also involves them in ideas for projects, topics, or even ways of sharing the gospel. If we all could appreciate their ability even when they themselves do not, we would not only disciple them, but also train them as future leaders for the Lord. This program is a must in every field", declared Pedro Torres, Spanish Communication Director.
"It's becoming increasingly clear that we need to pull together - the members and the departments of the church - to find the best way to make our children true disciples of Christ. Disciples who serve with all their heart, disciples that become powerful tools in God’s hands," said Mario Brito, Ministerial Director at the Inter-European Region.
For this reason, we need to build a church in which all are involved. Where the young and the old will love and support each other in their spiritual growth and the special mission that the Lord has entrusted to us. This was witnessed during the program at the Convention and the results were clearly evident: all actively participated in the reading and preaching of the Word, in music and in all other activities.
"May the Lord help us all - whatever our age, responsibilities, gifts or talents - to understand that the mission that He has entrusted to us, to make new disciples, begins in our home and in our churches," said Mario Brito.
KID Convention: Comments from the Youth
When we prepare something for the children, the teens, or for the youth, our first goal is to talk their language, to adapt the program to their level. Let's say that every age has their favourite "song book" to sing from.
The challenge of the Kid Convention was to sing... from only one "song book" trying to engage all ages, from 3 or 4-year-old children up and including grandparents. The opinion of the children gives the evaluation of this new approach.
"I must say that I was in paradise. I would love to come back to another Convention. I liked it so much! If there is another one, I will be back" said Sara Franconi.
"In this conference, I liked the meetings a lot, the ones we had in the chapel, with beautiful songs and engaging activities; as well as the meetings on Saturday during "Messy Church" where we were all creative and all working together," Kevin Olteanu.
"Everything was nice. I loved the last evening: the dinner was very special, with candles, cards that helped us communicate, the small responsibilities we had as waiters for our table and then our prayer take off with lanterns … it was all so exciting!
“The time flew by so fast and it was hard to leave," said Rebecca Olteanu.
"I have to say that I really liked EVERYTHING!" declared Giacomo Abiusi.
"It was something new. The path of prayer was pretty different from the usual activities, interesting! I felt a strong connection with God... I had a great time also when we launched our lanterns in the sky... it was beautiful and exciting!" said Bogdana Artem Peloni.
"It was an unforgettable experience. These last few days I learned so many new things, met new friends and it was also fun to be with them. I have seen so many people so open and friendly, I felt an atmosphere of true brotherhood. It was really special, beautiful, beautiful... exciting! Let’s do it again." said Federico Popa.
Other testimonies echo the joy of having participated in this first KID Convention. Helping children to be leaders is not only a commitment, but a duty of every adult. The enthusiasm expressed by these children is the best feed-back for the efforts and the success of the Convention.