Growing on the world stage
by Elsa Matthias
When I graduated from high school in 2016, the question: ‘Where do I go next?’ was at the forefront of my mind.
As our family moved to South Australia from Queensland, I began a physiotherapy university degree, and then had the chance to be a part of the LCA/NZ’s Grow Leadership program in 2017.
I didn’t know it then but that crack in the door was a huge step in my faith journey and of servanthood to Christ. I am still studying and loving it, but my volunteering hours have been filled with numerous opportunities to serve the universal church – locally in my congregation, Churchwide for the LCA/NZ and globally.
Before Grow Leadership, volunteering in my local congregation was my only serving opportunity. Born overseas in the USA, naturally I knew there was a global church, but as a young person in Australia, how could I be part of that movement?
Grow Leadership, and the program’s ‘Stretch and Grow’ trip to Cambodia, challenged me to become involved in the wider congregation, the global body of Christ. So I asked God. And, as it says in Matthew 7:7, ‘Ask and the door will be opened to you; seek and you will find’.
I have since become a member of the LCA International Mission Committee. This has given me a chance to be involved in the ministries of the LCA/NZ and our overseas partner churches. But, God wasn’t finished with forging global connections for me.
I was asked to represent the LCA/NZ at the Huria Kristen Batak Protestan church Youth International Conference in North Sumatra in 2018. I was also invited to join the Lutheran World Federation’s Global Young Reformers Network. Both experiences have given me a better understanding of what it means to be part of the universal church. I also know that no matter what their culture, gender, country, language or religion, each person is a sister or brother of Christ and needs to be treated so.
In September and October 2019, I attended the Global Young Reformers Network Conference and Asian Church Leaders Conference in Indonesia and spent time with a community of young people passionate about their churches and the ways that we can make a difference. We addressed the topics of education, equity and revival of churches, as they pertain to young people. We sought to identify issues in these areas within our local contexts. We also developed recommendations for church leaders.
I have learnt from these experiences that the Reformation did not occur in its entirety in the distant past, it only began. We have been called as followers of God. We have been called to continue to spread the gospel. We have been called to continue to reform the church.
Three years of doors opening and a subtle guiding hand. Who knows what my future holds? There is one thing I do know: I must pay attention to God’s calling on my life, wherever it leads.
Elsa Matthias is a member at Para Vista, South Australia.