The whole day had a very mission-minded accent—that last full day of GYC in 2012—from Wes Peppers’ morning devotional to David Shin’s evening emphasis on the sacrifice required for any revolution. But in the opinion of the author, the day peaked around 12:45 pm in the main meeting hall. The afternoon plenary was just finishing, and Vincent Samuelson–after sharing powerful stories of his own experiences with Muslims–made a very specific appeal: Who will commit three to seven years of their life to overseas missionary work?
To be honest, I’m not quite sure how many responded. At the appeal’s conclusion, about 70 were gathered at the front to pray—but by then, several others joined the circle to support or take down names for follow-up. What I am sure of is that one of those 70 was me. There, in Seattle, Washington on the last day of 2012, I myself promised to be an overseas missionary for at least three years of my life.
Later that afternoon, a friend and I went around asking attendees two questions: 1) What was meaningful to you about this GYC? and 2) What are you going to do differently when you go home?
Rodger said that this GYC–his seventh–meant rejuvenation. He went on to remark, “I’ve seen the need for consistent spirituality in my life, but I hadn’t considered the affect it could have on others.” A 24-year-old science teacher at an Adventist Academy, Rodger plans to support some of his students in starting an after-school Bible study upon his return.
James and Phil said that this GYC provided “substance, spiritual substance.” They were moved by the same appeal that moved me that afternoon, and though they can’t quite get away themselves, they plan to be more intentional about praying for and giving financially to overseas missionaries. (I’d like to mention here that Phil is the great-great-great-great grandson of John Wesley.)
Johanna told me that during outreach, she and her friends were explaining to an interested homeless man the importance of having a personal relationship with Christ. She said that in the middle of the conversation, her troupe realized that they were really speaking to themselves–it was they who needed to work on their personal relationship with Christ; that will be their focus after the conference. Heidi said similarly that upon return, “I am going to—by God’s grace—find more time to spend in God’s Word.” Michael said, “I have to get back to reading.” Kathryn, “I want to get to my Bible and pray more.”
Stevy, a 15-year-old touched by outreach, said that’s what she’s going to do when she goes back. She wants to knock on doors and tell people about Jesus. (She also wants desperately to join a canvassing program, but none will let her in because she’s too young. To that I will take another brief detour to say,let no one despise your youth . . .)
And my favorite: David, all the way from Europe, said that when he goes home, he’s going to “win back the youth in Austria.” Wow. I’m going to reclaim my whole country for Christ.
I was thinking about these things when a question was asked to the Executive Committee during the Q & A session this morning: Is GYC settling? It reminded me of another poignant question during Vincent Samuelson’s appeal. “What are the signs of a church that needs to revive its missionary culture?” he asked. In answer, he cited two bits of history. In early Adventism, when a call was made for missionary service, 100 came forward, and 100 went. At GYC 2004, a call was made for missionary service, and 200 came forward; one went. In light of numbers like that, Are we settling? certainly seems a legitimate question.
In answer, I must turn the question back on the asker and on all those reading this now. Are you settling? Because you see, GYC is no longer just an annual conference—if it ever was. No, GYC is the movement that exists amongst the attendees between the conferences. That spirit that insatiably craves a deep relationship with Christ, that spirit that hankers to spread the gospel so that Jesus might come sooner—that is GYC. That is Adventism. That is Christianity.
Are we settling? I think about Rodger, and James and Phil, and Johanna, Heidi, Michael and Kathryn. I think of Stevy and David, and it leads me to a resounding no. No, we are not settling, we have not settled, nor will we settle until we settle down next to Jesus under the tree of life in Heaven. We will wear out the pages of our Bibles, we will preach the gospel, and we will see Jesus come in our lifetime. May we only be faithful.
Executive Secretary, GYC