At the cusp of the new year 3,144 young Seventh-day Adventists gathered for GYC 2018. Under the banner “To The End”, like-minded individuals from a diverse collective of countries, colleges, and upbringings met to share ideas, cultivate networks, and take Christ’s Great Commission to their world. “Jesus had a vision that every young person become a spirit-filled missionary to the end,” stated Gary Blanchard at the conference’s beginning.
For GYC as a movement, this spirit-filled mission work means Iceland. Currently, the Adventist population of Iceland floats in the 500s, and while SDA ministerial efforts date back to the late 1800s, the country’s secular majority and imposed Lutheran history has always made it a difficult audience to reach. While the mission trip is scheduled for the summer of 2019, the preparation began during the Monday even plenary, with VP of Missions Jonathan Walter, who flew out from GYC to knock on the first door, live-streaming the event with 2,520 listening conference attendees.
Of course, this is GYC. Mission work is par for the course. By now, the outreach numbers
have been announced all over, with 32 buses, 11,058 doors knocked on, and 19,643 GLOW tracts handed out by over 1,600 attendees, with blessings not just limited to those inside the homes. “As a bus leader, I got to meet so many new faces who got on the bus looking tired or gloomy or nervous, and then less than four hours later returned to the bus rejuvenated and ready for action!” reflected Jacob Martin, a Senior Biology major at Southern Adventist University. “The energy on my bus was electrifying, and I was so thankful for the opportunity to serve in this way.” Sunday’s outreach yielded 584 requests for Bible Studies, (350 in English and 217 in Spanish), with 17 requests by refugee families in Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Mandarin, Swahili, Urdu, Cantonese, Pashto, and Twi. And that doesn’t even include the impact made by GYC’s post-conference follow-up. Additionally, over one-hundred homes indicated refugee status, and requested kits for cleaning, hygiene, and family help, as well as English language and citizenship classes. “Every single refugee care kit delivered during post-conference were met by the donations garnered in affluent neighborhoods from outreach day.” reflected Tara Vang, VP of Evangelism. “God is good!”
Which ends with the conference itself. Activate small group sessions provided a launchpad for participants to take evangelism and sacrificial initiative, the essence of GYC, above and beyond the conference. The prayer room and multiple seminars were filled to room capacity, while the plenary events were streamed online and on 3ABN, as well as translated live into Spanish for 3ABN Latino and interpreted for ASL participants. “What excited me the most were the different speakers that we were able to bring in, a very diverse and unique group, who might not be the most popular within Adventism currently, but have really important things to share and say,” VP of Programming RD Gallant reflected. “For all ages. I think GYC has an awesome opportunity, demonstrating how we should be handling discussions and issues and controversies within the Adventist Church. There is so much in this world that could be potentially distracting from our mission and purpose as Seventh-day Adventists, and a return to a real, living relationship with God – a revive of primitive Godliness – is what will help in solving our problems.” To quote Michael Goetz’s final morning message, “If we stop to fix and get everything we think should be right, we will miss out on what we are called to do.”
-Konner Dent is a freelance writer and licensed chef from Southwest Michigan
-Photo credits to GYC ECOM members