How can Christians mobilise Africa's youth to help rebuild their continent?

Christian youth leaders from countries across Africa have been urged to take a lead in rebuilding the broken walls of their continent.

African Christian leaders, young and old, are gathering this week in Youandé, the Cameroon capital for this year's African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI) forum.

A joyful start to ABLI 2017Andrew Boyd, Bible Society

Later in the week, they will be considering how to tackle widespread corruption in Africa. But the opening day was given to the African Youth Leaders' Forum, which considered youth not as the leaders of the future but as the leaders of today.

More than 40 per cent of the population of Africa is below the age of 15, according to research. So ABLI is focusing on this rising generation.

'Depending on the stories they are told, Africa's youth can be fuel for development or become weapons of conflict and destruction,' says conference organiser, Girma Mohammed, of Bible Society.

'ABLI is committed to the idea that youth should be given a leadership role here and now.'

In Kenya, young people have been mobilised for violence in elections. But after the ABLI Forum was held in that country, Christian youth worked to promote voting based on conscience and Christian values, rather than ethnic allegiances. This had a positive effect in minimising youth involvement in political violence.

'To rebuild the broken walls of Africa will take the dedication of every youth,' Wepnyu Yembe Njamnshi, told the leadership forum in a keynote address to youth.

'God takes the weak things of this world to confound the strong, so the place of the youth is the place of leadership. Whatever your walk of life, as Christian youth, you are the solution to your nation's problems.'

He urged the many young leaders gathered at ABLI to never forget that the quality of a leader is determined by his willingness to serve.

Mr Njamnshi called on the hundreds present at the ABLI youth forum to reject mediocrity and follow the greatest leader the world has ever known – Jesus Christ. By following Christ, they would bring transformation to their continent, he added.

'Jesus has more likes than Facebook and more tweets than Twitter. He will move us from zero to hero and he will do it in this generation and in the generations to come in Africa.'

Mr Njamnshi reminded the many gathered that Jesus took just 12 unlearned men and trained them for his service. He added: 'We will see leadership in a different dimension if we can represent this great leader on earth as he intends us to do. Be the leader that Jesus wants you to be today.'

ABLI is an initiative of Bible Society. It brings churches together to work on their common mission, despite their denominational differences. And for ordinary citizens, ABLI creates a platform to sit together with their leaders and discuss the role of faith in working for the public good.

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