Generation. Youth. Christ.
This movement has a very special place in my heart. Two years ago, the conference was held in Baltimore, MD, only 20 minutes from my home. My father had tried several times to get me to go, and I did finally give in (be persistent, parents!). My interest in real Christianity had been piqued by a wise psychology teacher and a preacher with big glasses; I was “ripe”, as it were.
I was convicted, moved, inspired the whole weekend. Because of the flu, however, I almost stayed home from the consecration service. Praise the Lord I did not.
Beloved, there is nothing you could ever do to make God stop loving you!
I can still hear how the preacher said it. Yes, it was a long time coming. There was a process. There were mentors and planters and waterers along the way. But there was definitely a click. And the father’s love for his prodigal son was the click that I had needed.
Two years later, I flew out to Seattle, WA for “Acts: the Revolution Continues”. I didn’t go to any seminars, and I only heard a few plenaries. Reporting on GYC was definitely a new perspective. But the Lord does not always need a sermon to teach me lessons.
1. People are just people.
Two years ago, I took a picture with the President of GYC (yes, I was very excited and nervous and in awe). This year I interviewed him right after he shot the cap off of a plastic water bottle. Two years ago, someone whispered in my ear that we were watching the founder of GYC speak. This year, I walked into his office and joked with him how we had to talk at GYC through his assistants even though we’re friends. Two years ago, I saw the “important” people disappear behind the curtains of mystery that guarded backstage. This year, I saw the “important” people write notes on napkins, text their parents, and watch GYC on a small TV screen.
The majority of my time was spent backstage with ECOM, speakers, conference officials, and musicians. Because of this, GYC lost much of its awe for me. Before you get offended, let me explain:
GYC is run by people. Not super-people, not demi-gods, not even perfect people. Just people. People that are willing to be used by God and have acted upon His calling. That’s it. What makes GYC special is not the speakers. It’s not even the conference officials that show up. What makes GYC special is the message that is spoken; it’s the Word of God that is believed and acted upon; it’s the youthfulness of those who are willing to do whatever it takes to win a soul to Christ; it’s the dedication of the young people to do crazy things in their local churches.
The “important” people, famous or not, are just people. We should not turn GYC into an “Adventist Idol”, as the morning devotional speaker put it. The sooner we realize that God does not call the qualified, the sooner we will let him qualify us by His calling.
After all, as the GYC President said himself: “God has such an extraordinary message that He can shine through ordinary people.”
2. GYC is a movement, not a conference.
This was new to me. I may have heard someone say it before, but it hadn’t sunken in. When I gave myself to the Lord two years ago, I came right back to school and implemented. Preached. Started door-to-door. Gave Bible studies. And I had no idea what I was doing! Looking back, I see that training is good, yes, but God is the ultimate Teacher. And He doesn’t need an institution in order to teach one of His children.
As I was interviewing three of the administration for GYC, all three of them kept emphasizing the movement of GYC. It wasn’t even that they were stressing the INTERmission projects (though those are awesome–DO IT!), but they were stressing the need of application and furthering the vision.
One question comes to mind when I think of the origin of GYC:
What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?
This same preacher with big glasses and a few others had met in a living room and started the movement that is now global and a “household name” in Adventist homes. I was inspired by what this preacher told me:
“I see GYC as a large ship that makes a wake for other passions and dreams of young people to be fulfilled.”
Just read that a few more times and think. Thiiiink. The movement does not stop with GYC. On the contrary, that is the beginning. The conference is not an end, it’s a means. The purpose of the conference is to inspire and train young people for action. Dream for God. Dream big. And then take steps to fulfill that dream, pushing the mission of Christ forward with every step.
This year, I had the distinct privilege and pleasure of talking with two young ladies who want to start a campus ministry. Our thirty minutes turned into two hours, and as I was wrapping up they still were asking questions. I had not realized how much the Lord had taught me, even in one semester, and it was beautiful to see how He used my past mistakes to build up the ministries of others.
Maybe it’s because I have a teacher’s heart, but I can’t think of many things that I enjoy more than mentoring. Yes, it’s draining and hard to answer the many questions. But to see people hungering to be equipped and do things for the Lord? To witness their desire, hear their questions, rejoice in their progress, and pray for their faithfulness? It makes me laugh with joy. I have mentored people before, but this was the first year that I was able to do so at GYC, and it was one of my favorite highlights.
My friend who asked me to write this post said I should write about GYC from my journalism perspective. The first thing I learned from my time at GYC was #1, that people are just people. But another was unexpected. As I was preparing to write my articles, the dread of expectations overwhelmed me. Writing three (four?) different articles for the same amount of news outlets, with different bosses, close deadlines, different focuses, I just went sdfdghjkh;klsdjaf;lksjadfkljs;lkdf.
Yes. I did that.
The night I arrived in Seattle, the Lord made it very clear what the next lesson was that I would be learning: caring what God thinks alone. I prayed and surrendered it to Him, not knowing it would be my personal lesson threaded throughout the extended weekend.
As a reporter (journalist, writer, whatever I am), there are certain things expected of you. The organization expects you to represent them correctly. The news outlet wants the story to focus on a certain angle and make the story fit well. The interviewees want to sound good and have their names spelled correctly. And everyone wants this in a well-put-together article, maybe 600-800 words, with good pictures (they took awesome ones this year, by the way).
I am not saying these expectations are unreasonable. On the contrary, I totally understand! But when this all comes together, and you add conference/union/your own personal pressures, it can be a bit overwhelming.
These pressures/thoughts/anxieties drove me to my knees several times a day asking the Lord for wisdom in writing these articles. These words being printed were going to be the first impression of GYC to several (thousand?) people, and the re-cap of what they missed to even more. With the opinions of others guiding my actions, however, I could not find peace.
I only found it in this: the audience of One. I was writing these articles to show to people in Japan as well as those in my own home what God is able to do with radically-commited-to-Jesus young people. Yes, I have deadlines and angles. But I was to be as excellent as possible to please none other than God Himself. His opinion alone is what matters.
One more point on this. In the same genre of opinion, I learned something else about GYC. There are more expectations for this movement than anyone has ever tried to push on me. The way GYC has maintained its mission, even if misrepresented, is inspiring to me. No, we don’t want entertainment, we want the Word of God. No, we don’t want smooth words, we want the Truth. No, we don’t want to be more like Jesus, we want to be just like Him (Wes Peppers). No, we don’t want Jesus to come sometime, we want Him to come in our generation. Or we will die trying.
GYC truly can be summed up into one word: Faithfulness.
May our faithfulness increase by the day. May fires of affliction, though painful they be, burn the dross until only the gold remains.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.