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“I can do things better back home”

“I can do things better back home”

April Robinson during the YATRA meeting in West Java, Indonesia. Photo: Carrie Grace Littauer/WCC

30 August 2017

For April Robinson, hopping in a bus with 35 other Christians from across Asia – from Pakistan, to Japan, to New Zealand – and travelling four hours to West Java, Indonesia to meet with interfaith activists brought just the perspective she needed to deepen and bolster her interfaith work back home in Melbourne, Australia.

“Just listening to their work, seeing the similarities with what I do, but being in a different context… it really affirmed my work, and made me learn a great deal about how I can do things better or differently back home.”

Robinson, who is working with the Uniting Church in Australia to build relationships between people of various faiths, attended the World Council of Churches Youth in Asia Training in Religious Amity (YATRA) program in July in hopes of gaining more experience, knowledge and exposure to the theological and practical aspects of interreligious cooperation.

“By delving more deeply into the Jesus story, through an intercultural and interreligious lens, I am reminded of his call to step into myself and step up for those who are being oppressed. This has renewed my energy. In Australia, there has been a rise in racist sentiments that have resulted in verbal and physical violence towards predominantly Muslim women. I will continue to bring this issue to light within the church and wider community,” she shared.

For Robinson, the YATRA experience has helped her embody her faith by approaching a theology rooted in a more spacious, grounded understanding of God: “We did not just use theology as an esoteric framework, but as a corporal manifestation,” she noted. “This way of being has constructed a more visceral and a more connected approach to my work within the church where the act of building relationships is imperative.”

April now has a close network of 35 young leaders from across Asia with whom she can share resources, experiences, and passion for this work.

As for keeping in touch with the interfaith activists in West Java, Robinson excitedly stated, “I already have an invitation from a Muslim woman in Bandung to stay with her family… I’m definitely planning to go back!”

 

Young leaders share passion and courage in diverse traditions (WCC press release 26 July 2017)

Interreligious youth training programme adopts online learning component (WCC press release 6 July, 2017)

More information about YATRA: Youth in Asia Training for Religious Amity