Fourth 4-14 Global Summit Report Sugimoto Reiko (Director of Christian Education at Machida Christian Center, Instructor at Seikei Seminary) The 4th 4-14 Global Summit was held in Bangkok, Thailand from October 15th to 18th 2013. (Note: The 4-14 Summit is a global-level conference focusing on prioritizing ministry to the generation of kids and youth based on the statistic that 71% of decisions for Christ are made between the ages of 4 and 14.) The overall theme of the conference was “Rooted and Released” and 800 people from 92 countries in 11 regions welcomed. There were 8 participants from Japan – relief organizations (Crash Japan, Samaritans Purse), media (7M Group), educator (Meisen Gakuen) – a diverse group of kids / youth evangelists and a missionary. The focus of this Summit was to go beyond seeing children and youth as just targets for evangelism, but to rethink them as partners in evangelism: 1. That children and youth would be prepared to serve and lead. (That they would be rooted and released). 2. That we would think of what opportunities there are for the children and youth generation to lead. That we would affirm that importance of getting them involved in evangelism so that the Great Commission will be completed in this generation. With these two points in mind, it was planned that the purpose would be that churches, families, media, seminaries, mission organizations, schools etc. would receive encouragement and would move forward together while creating a network between them. The fact that children and youth (ages 4 to 14) will get a firm foundation and be sent out as evangelism partners in this way will be a new mountain and the place of the Lord's promise was a foundational concept of this summit. Evening on day 1 was set aside for regional dinners. The Japanese participants joined the East Asia region meeting and there were introductions from the Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Macao, Hongkong and Mongolian participants as well as a time of fellowship. On the morning of day 2, Thai children with each country contingent’s flag in hand came into the auditorium with representatives wearing national dress. Next we were entertained by Thai kids
and youth praise, dance and drama teams who presented evangelistic songs and performances. In particular, the symbolic breaking of the ancient bondage of traditional Thai Buddhism and the victory of the Gospel in a pantomime was especially moving to me. Next, Luis Bush, who is a leading advocate of the 4-14 movement gave his opening address in which he said that children and youth are not simply targets for evangelism, but there is a pressing need to rethink them as the main bearers of the burden to evangelize. Bush preached from Mather 28:19 â€“ 20 emphasizing the need for the next generation of disciples who hold to the principle that the life of the kingdom of God is to take hold of the authority that has already been given us and declare the word of God. He gave concrete examples of how the change from disciples following Jesus to mission partners, and then to leaders who produced their own disciples changed whole regions. There were two 8-year-olds in Indonesia who started praying for the salvation of their region and these two were used as people of peace resulting in the church in that region being changed, and the region itself changing. Next, another of the 4-14 advocates, Dan Brewster, explained the Biblical basis of the 4-14 movement (Acts 2:17, Joel 2:28, 1 Samuel 2-3). He said that although God uses many different kinds of people, as adults we need to maintain our sense of expectation that children will also be used as God's vessels. In particular, he emphasized that they are being used right now just as they are, so we should not think of them simply as the leaders of tomorrow. He challenged us that children can hear what God is saying directly -- not just through adults â€“ and that God humbles the mighty, but raises up the weak. Through this summit I was impressed that we need to focus not just on children in Christian homes, but we also need to reach out in our region, and not just to children in developed countries, but also to those in developing ones â€“ to regions where there is persecution, and to bring aid to poor regions where there are orphans and needy children. Also from the point of view of media, the speaker emphasized that media itself continues to change, and we need to make full use of all the different kinds of tools, and we need to have modern and appealing tools. Then another speaker also warned us that, speaking as a parent, we should avoid the alienation of pastors' kids, missionary kids etc as a result of their evangelist or missionary parents becoming too caught up in ministry and thus disrespecting their own children. Day 3 concerned the concrete strategies etc for actually achieving the objectives of the 4-14 movement. We were told the testimony of 10,000 children in India who were that very day praying for the summit in houses of prayer. We were reminded of the importance of not being afraid of mistakes and not to be caught up with yesterday's successes either, but to challenge ourselves to new ministry with fresh vision.
We divided up into groups (pastors, family, media, seminaries, missions, school-related, church kids and youth ministry, orphans) and had discussions and Q & A concerning the issues most relevant to each group. Teachers and authors offered materials for free, and we were able to share information and ministry ideas. The Japanese contingent had a breakfast meeting on the morning of the final day with Luis Bush, Kim Nam Soo, and John Hur, who is the East Asia representative. The vision of cooperating to advance the 4-14 movement in Japan was raised, and the participants prayed about proceeding towards holding a 4-14 conference in Japan in 2014. We agreed that a preparation committee for the Japan conference would convene at the earliest possible date on November 22nd. Finally, all 11 regions got back together and each country group gave a short presentation of their short-term goals and medium-term vision. In the closing service, Kim Nam Soo closed the summit with a stirring message, â€œMinistry to the 4-14 generation is not an option, it is our top priority. We hope in the almighty God and pray, knowing the danger that if we lose the 4-14 generation, then the next generation of the church will be extinguished. I returned to Japan with a sense of joy that through these 4 days, my theological and missiological understanding had been deepened, I was able to see the real concrete worldwide network that already forms the 4-14 movement, and I was given a big vision. I once again had the sense of the importance of the ministry to the next generation that has been given to the church, and I felt a real sense of challenge. Thanks and glory to God!