December 31, 2016

GYC: Calling for Commitment


“Please stand up if your birthday is between January and July.”

More than half the audience stands.

“This proportion roughly represents the number of Adventist youth who will leave the church after college.”

Photo Credit: Seth Shaffer

“GYC is you. You are GYC, and this is your movement, and this is your time.”

It’s the opening night of GYC 2016. And for the fifteenth year in a row, thousands of young people have come together from all corners of the country and the world for this five-day event organized by Adventist young adults for Adventist young adults.

There’s energy. There’s enthusiasm.

Still, what can a five-day conference do about the staggering numbers of youth leaving the Seventh-day Adventist church?

One of best ways to keep Adventist young adults in their faith is to equip them with high-quality, solidly Biblical information and opportunities for witness, according to Generation.Youth.Christ leaders. The Wednesday through Sunday event in Houston, Texas is crammed with events and experiences designed to deepen personal faith and train young adults to share that faith.

Building around a theme of “When All Has Been Heard,”this year’s GYC Convention offers seventeen seminars and multiple plenary sessions. Speakers range from from GYC president Moise Ratsara, a young pastor in Michigan, to General Conference President Ted Wilson. Seminar topics cover a wide variety of high-interest topics, from “Advising Love” by Sebastien and Candis Braxton, to “The Investigative Judgment in Daniel and Revelation” by Ingo Sorke, and “The Digital Revolution” by Jared Thurmon. Yet as this GYC began and thousands of attendees hurry from meeting to meeting, president Moise Ratsara’s opening address reminded the audience that GYC is more than the sum of the parts.

According to Ratsara, countless GYC attendees have gone out to do evangelistic meetings.Missionaries are healing, preaching and teaching around the world, thanks to connections and appeals for commitment made at GYC. The original GYC now has 18 affiliates that collectively have organized 20 major events around the globe in the last 12 months. Days before this year’s conference, 86 young adults took five days for a special pre-conference outreach, sleeping on a gym floor over Christmas, walking 8-18 miles per day, and distributing a staggering 1 million pieces of Adventist literature.

“In order to fulfill this mission, we must be all-in for Christ”

Why do young adults throng to GYC in the week between Christmas and New Year’s?

“I’d heard good things about it,” says first-time attendee Ashley Howard. “My sister mentioned how there were so many youth and everyone was on fire for God. I heard that people gave their lives to God here.”

“I like it because it helps to shake off some of the Laodicean stuff that grows during the year,” says Jasons Shives, attending his ninth GYC. “I always come to GYC and leave with plans on how I’m going to do great things for God.”

Some even make life-changing decisions at GYC. “We were kind of interested in mission work. We were looking for something else. But we didn’t feel a burden for a certain place. It was at GYC that we heard about the Middle Eastern North Africa (MENA) union and how they were sending people to do mission work as students and tent makers,” says one attendee. A year later, her name can’t be shared because she and her husband followed through on the call they felt at GYC and are now missionaries in the Waldensian Student program through MENA, reaching Muslims in a place few dare to go.

“I have no regrets about going,” she says. “I know that this is where God wants us to be.”

“In order to fulfill this mission, we must be all-in for Christ,” said Ratsara as he concluded the Wednesday night keynote address.

“GYC is you. You are GYC, and this is your movement, and this is your time.”

Photo Credit: Seth Shaffer