Join the Global Unites Movement in U.S.
People of all ages are needed to start youth movement for peace and reconciliation
In May of 2009, Sri Lanka’s 26-year-long civil war ended. Three months later, I traveled to Sri Lanka with James Li, Sean Cooper and a team of young adults. Our mission was to support Prashan De Visser in his newly established organization, Sri Lanka Unites, a movement Prashan had been growing among the youth of the embattled country during the climax of the war.
With the conclusion, Prashan, a young adult himself, was convening a team in the mountains of Sri Lanka to educate top students of the Sri Lanka Unites movement on peace, reconciliation and movement toward healing.
Over the last 10 years, Global Unites was created and movements have been formed in 15 countries all around the world, with more than 37,500 members actively involved. Global Unites’ mission is: “To inspire, connect and equip youth to transform global societies through movements that promote hope, nonviolence and reconciliation.”
It was time for the United States to be included in this movement. Prashan asked Sean, James and me to be members of the U.S. core team as the movement gets started. In August, Sean and James had the opportunity to travel to Kenya for the Global Unites Summit, and I asked them about their time there and how we, as a church, can get involved in what peace and reconciliation mean for us here in the United States for the next generation.
Lauren: What was the goal for you to attend the Global Unites Summit, and how does that align with what you’re currently doing at Northland and beyond?
Sean: First of all, my goal in those situations is always to listen, observe, learn and bring back anything I can to our own church community. We have so much to learn from our global family around the world. Specifically on this trip, Prashan asked if I could help facilitate some teaching and discussion around how to help leaders develop strategies for the youth movements in their countries. While there, I had the awesome privilege of doing some workshops with leaders to strategize around the work they are doing.
James: Prashan De Visser asked me to teach Rock Self Defense to young adults from 15 different countries for Global Unites. This is a similar program to what I taught for Sri Lanka Unites. He shared with me that in many of the GU countries, 78 percent of women are sexually harassed daily. By sharing self-defense instruction, women not only learned how to protect themselves; they learned how to teach other women how to protect themselves. I recently found out that women from Liberia who attended the Global Summit have already started to share these practical moves with others in their homeland.
Lauren: James, how does your background as a four-time ISKA [International Sport Karate Association] World Champion with experience in executive protection, self-defense and safety play into this?
James: God blessed me with unique opportunities in sports to bless others. I am so thankful these gifts can be helpful to multiple post-conflict countries so that they can stabilize, rebuild and even thrive.
Sean: I always enjoy traveling with James, and he is a great communicator and inspiration to young people. Part of what James does that is so needed in many of these countries is basic training on self-defense, particularly for women who are facing daily situations of harassment. He is great at training and instilling confidence through those sessions.
Lauren: Why this, and why now? How does the Bible call us to get involved?
James: First Chronicles 29:12 (NIV) says, “Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.” As image bearers of the great Protector, we have the power to protect others and equip others. Rock Self Defense – “We give strength to all.”
Lauren: What are the practical next steps if someone wants to get involved, whether it be a young adult/student or adult?
Sean: We need people of all ages to help us get a youth movement started here in the U.S.! Right now we are very early in working out the details of what is next, but if a person is interested in getting involved, please email Lauren and join our group list.
James: One of the next steps is to attend the self-defense seminar hosted at Northland in the coming weeks. My hope is that people learn how to defend themselves and take the next step in helping others learn how to defend themselves.
In those 10 years since my initial trip to Sri Lanka, I have proudly watched as my friend Prashan has grown this movement globally. In 2016, Prashan married Shruthi, and now they have two children: Aviv, 1 year old, and Araan, 3 months old. It is one of my and my family’s great joys to support the De Vissers, and I hope that you’ll join me in praying for this family as it works toward the common goal of peace and reconciliation across the world.
If you would like to learn more about Prashan or Global Unites, visit globalunites.org. If you’d like to get involved, I’d love to connect with you for next steps; contact me at email@example.com.