During my 20s I served on the GYC (Generation. Youth. Christ.) executive committee, including the past six years as president. Now, turning 30, I know it’s time to pass the mantle to younger leadership.
I look back, reflectively, over those important years with deep gratitude to God for what He has done for us, and for what He will yet do.
And I’m grateful as well for what I’ve come to know about Adventist youth. Some will find that surprising, for as we know, far too many of our youth and young adults are leaving the church. This is a genuine crisis, and how thankful I am that our church leaders are seeking to address the problem, as they must.
But something else commands my attention, something I’ve witnessed myself. As John said about Jesus: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life” (1 John 1:1). I too want to bear testimony about what I’ve seen, heard, and touched: the faithful and dedicated youth of the Adventist Church who are staying, who are committed to Jesus, and who are picking up the mantle our parents and the church handed to us—spreading the three angels’ messages to the world.
Three examples made a deep impact on me during my GYC service.
Years ago I attended a youth event in Germany. For a long time I had been under the false impression that the Church in Europe was dead, or virtually so. But this wasn’t at all the case. Yes, the Church in Europe, and its young people, face unique struggles. Despite these struggles, or perhaps because of them, many European Adventist youth and young adults are on fire for the Lord.
Let's not forget—or fail to support, the untold numbers who are staying.
At the conference I attended in Germany, some youth had rented a school over a holiday break. They slept 20, 30—even 40—to a classroom. They literally ate bread and water. The seminar rooms were packed, and you couldn’t find a seat in the main auditorium. With their Bibles open, they responded night after night to the appeals to commit to their Creator and to witness for Him in a dying world. In that meeting I saw a glimpse of our immediate future, and that future looks good.
Adventism in Africa has a special set of challenges that many of us in the West can’t even begin to appreciate, some of which result from the church’s tremendous growth on the continent. A growing group of young Adventists in Africa are committed not just to reaching their own countries with present truth, but the entire African continent. I’ve seen them ask the conferences, unions, and divisions to send them to the places that others won’t go. And they go, having little or nothing of the comforts we Westerners take for granted. They battle the elements. They sleep under the stars. But they tell people all across Africa about the soon coming of Jesus. There are more and more places in Africa where young Adventists have knocked on just about every door—and they’re coming back to do it again. Our future looks good.
Finally, there’s GYC itself. GYC is organized and managed by volunteers, Adventist youth and young adults. Each year more than 600 volunteers come from all over the world to make our annual conference happen. They don’t get paid; instead they actually pay a registration fee to be volunteers. They get the food organized; they serve as bus leaders; they organize the transportation of speakers. Volunteers make GYC happen. They’re committed to the cause of GYC because they are committed to the cause of Christ and, by extension, His remnant church. Our future looks good.
Yes, it’s painful and troubling that too many Adventist youth are leaving. But let’s not forget—or fail to support—the untold numbers who are staying and who are committed to Jesus and to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
As I leave the GYC presidency, I’m excited. Excited because the best days, not just of GYC, but of the church, are just ahead of us. Young people started the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. There’s no question that young people will be there to see the work finished as well.
Our future looks very good.