Media heads and a variety of religious leaders gathered in Johannesburg on the afternoon of Tuesday 22 November for the unveiling of the #LIGHTtheWORLD Christmas initiative in the Africa Southeast Area.
Part of a global campaign, #LIGHTtheWORLD features a 25-day interactive ‘advent’ calendar which invites people everywhere -- regardless of their religious affiliation -- to serve, uplift and inspire others “in 25 ways, over 25 days”.
“Every day leading up to Christmas, we will focus on a different Christlike behaviour and provide suggestions for ways we can emulate His example,” said the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a statement.
Participants can connect and showcase their service through tools on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and YouTube. Billboards raising awareness about the initiative will be erected throughout Johannesburg and other major cities around the globe.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said veteran journalist and media consultant, Amina Frense after being introduced to the campaign. “It’s a communal celebration that gives us focus in these uncertain, dark days.”
Keynote speaker Sbu Buthelezi, a motivational strategist who hosts a radio show on Ukhozi FM, the most widely-listened-to station in Southern Africa, said it was a call to action for everyone.
“This #LIGHTtheWORLD campaign says to us: as God gives us a new day, He requires of us to give birth to new things. We are so appreciative for … the revelation of such a brilliant and innovative idea,” he said.
The campaign will be a way of “manifesting the heart of God to the people.”
“It’s not money that we need, it is a loving heart that we need,” said Buthelezi. “To pull [others] if they are in the pit of hopelessness, if they are in the pit of hunger. To extend that helping hand. To say ‘we are there as your brothers and sisters. Come out of that pit.’”
Buthelezi said he would accept the challenge to #LIGHTtheWORLD this Christmas season and invited others to do the same. “Christ gave us the mandate to spread and disseminate the good news,” he said. “It is a responsibility that every one of us has.”
Desire Ncube, a reporter from the Sunday Mail in Zimbabwe, said he would also participate.
“Despite the fact that I’m not a member of the Church, I will also encourage my family and everyone who is around me to at least do something good in these 25 days.”
Ncube complimented the church for staying true to “its mandate to save life and to preach the word of God,” he said. “If others emulated the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I think this world would be a better place to live.”
In his closing remarks, Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, the Africa Southeast Area President, quoted the Saviour’s words as recorded in Matthew: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”
Elder Hamilton continued: “Let’s let our lights shine. Let’s be a force for good. We can start with ourselves. 25 ways in 25 days. It maybe won’t change the world overnight, but it can make a difference. We can personally make a difference.”
Visit Mormon.org to find out how you, too, can #LIGHTtheWORLD through service over the next month.