World YMCA Strategy Guide and New Year Message

Date: 31 December 2015


Deep into the Swedish forests in a remote location I have a tiny little farm with three houses and enough forest to go looking for my own Christmas tree and fields enough to grow potatoes and harvest apples from 10 apple trees close to 100 years of age.

Before Christmas I have a few days to find peace. One of my methods to find peace of mind is to bake my own bread. In my Swedish farm there is no modern kitchen utilities, so I have to add flour and butter and milk and yeast and salt with my own fingers and work the dough with my own muscles.

Wood from the forest is used to heat the oven from 1926, a genuine Husqvarna, and the flames are surrounding the space for the breads and creating the heat needed to make the three breads baked into delicious, brown and shining delicacies for the Christmas table.

While I am waiting for the yeast to do its work with the dough, I sit in front of the open fireplace and hear the wind moving through the huge birch trees outside and leaving a magnificent sound of powerful, but stable nature. Making me feel like a very small, but secluded and safe part of the same nature.

The open fireplace is warming me and in my thoughts I am back in Paris a few weeks ago, where 200 young people organized by the World YMCA, or rather, hosted by the World YMCA, fought for the survival and balance of the nature, of our planet Earth. It fills me with pride and joy.

The next moment takes me to the sun deck of “Ocean Dream”, the Peace Boat, where I stand together with 150 Change Agents from all parts of the same globe, preparing ourselves to reach out to millions of young people struggling and fighting for survival out there.

And while the huge Swedish birch trees are swaying in the wind, in my thoughts I am back in the British Parliament where we presented for the first time the report from the largest ever Youth Research, the One Million Voices. Voices of young people from 55 countries on 5 continents were reaching the ears of those in power. Again the memories fill me with joy and hope.

I return to my breads and start working the dough with my bare hands and think how similar this is to my job. Two parts Advocacy for Environment in Paris, add 150 Change Agents. Let it rest for a few minutes while you heat half a litre Youth Research till it is finger warm and add a spoon full of Property Development.  Warm the Executive Committee till it reaches 220 degrees Celsius and it is ready to deal with the raw material. Let the love and care of the volunteers surround the dough and you will soon have some excellent products ready for serving. All a result of servant leadership, natural, clean raw material and good, solid Christian values to add the warmth and heat necessary for healthy and nourishing food.

I believe this is how we worked on OUR WAY during 2015 and we can all of us be proud of the solid results we can see today. If you please open the attachment below these New Years greetings and read the Playbook for 2016, you will find how we plan to further implement OUR WAY through 2016.

Clean raw material, solid handwork and craftsmanship and love and care of servant leadership, unity in vision and we will make collective progress flying the flag of the YMCA.

While I am writing these words, I put some more wood to the fire and listen to the huge wind in the forest outside my windows. I am sitting in the middle of the beautiful nature created by God Almighty, and the wind sounds like His voice calling the world wide YMCA for more wholehearted fighting for the survival of this planet.

A Happy New Year to all of you!

Rev Johan Vilhelm Eltvik
Secretary General

PLAYBOOK 2016  click here to download