During the month of February I had the privilege of traveling to Europe to meet with church youth leadership and then attending an annual convention hosted by Adventist Youth for Christ (AYC), the largest youth-led, youth-initiated Adventist movement in Australia, in Melbourne.
It was a trip of both historic beginnings and endings—the first large meeting between church leadership and GYC in Europe, and the last AYC convention after a decade of AYC’s service to young people.
In Europe, twelve young GYC leaders met with youth department leadership from within the Trans-European (TED) and Inter-European (EUD) Divisions, including the division youth directors and about 25 union youth directors. The meeting, held near Zurich, Switzerland, was chaired by Elder Gilbert Cangy, the General Conference World Youth Ministries director. We met to pray together, share, discuss concerns, answer each other’s questions, and fellowship.
I found two things particularly refreshing as I participated in the meetings; the willingness on everyone’s part to meet and converse, and the openness of our dialogue. TED and EUD leaders all flew down from their respective countries to meet with young people just for one day. The conversations that ensued were frank, open, and to the point. The meeting closed that evening with a season of prayer.
GYC wants to extend our warmest thanks to Elder Cangy for being instrumental in organizing this meeting, as well as to Elder Paul Tompkins of the TED and Elder Stephan Sigg of the EUD, for bringing your teams together and taking time out of your planning to meet with us. And a special thanks to the EUD for taking a day of your youth advisory meetings for us.
The evening we drove back to Zurich and headed to Australia. 24 hours of flight time later, we arrived in Melbourne to join hundreds of other young people in Melbourne’s beautiful downtown city hall. Friday, Sabbath, and Sunday, we relished worshiping together and hearing inspiring and practical messages on personal devotion to Christ and on evangelism.
We also spent time with the AYC leadership, watching their operations, listening to them reflect on past conventions, and hearing their thoughts about the future. We particularly enjoyed their willingness to think in unconventional ways and their determination to live above the status quo. A heartfelt thank you to the leadership of AYC for your hospitality and allowing us to watch some of the inner workings of a great youth movement. May God bless you as you look toward the future!
At times it is easy to look around us and feel alone. Perhaps we attend a secular university and are the only Adventist surrounded by a skeptical world. Perhaps our family does not cherish the same beliefs we do. But whatever situation in which we find ourselves individually, we can know there are thousands of young people all over the world who pursue Christ, pore over the Scriptures, and long to spread His name, just as we do. I’ve met with some of them recently, and I return home inspired to live more faithfully right where I am. To be, in my small corner of the world, an extension of His family, and His hands and feet to a hurting world.
“Then said I, Here am I; send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)