South American Division Youth Convention Highlights God’s Call to Mission

Event draws 20,000 young people and leaders for training, outreach, and inspiration.

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review
South American Division Youth Convention Highlights God’s Call to Mission
Young people participate in worship during the opening ceremony of the 2024 South American Division Maranata Youth Convention in Brasilia, Brazil, on May 29. [Photo: Naassom Azevedo]

Almost 20,000 Seventh-day Adventist young people from across the South American Division (SAD) gathered in Brasilia, Brazil, for the Maranatha Youth Convention May 29-June 1.

Young church members and their leaders from the eight countries comprising the SAD met at the Mané Garrincha BRB Arena for several days of Bible preaching, workshops, exhibits, and outreach activities.

The convention required major logistical arrangements, as 18,000 young people camped outside the arena on the parking area. The setup included showers and restroom facilities, and two outdoor restaurants that served more than 50,000 meals per day.

Surrendering to Serve

On May 29, the opening ceremony reflected on decades of Adventist youth convocations and reviewed some of the theme songs composed for those events. A common thread through most of those songs is the desire of trusting and imitating Jesus, and the commitment to surrender to be His witnesses, serving Him through serving others as He sees it best. “I will go, because that’s Your wish, that may Your kingdom come, so the only thing for me to say is, ‘I will go,’ ” one of the songs announced.

“The One who called me gave me gifts, talents, and passions. But why so many virtues if I am not to serve others?” a voice in a video added. “Your calling is beating inside of me.”

SAD youth director Carlos Campitelli agreed. “You have come here because there’s a very powerful calling beating in you,” he told the participants sitting in the stadium stands. “That calling runs through your veins, and you well know that it cannot be ignored. It is the reason you are a Seventh-day Adventist young person. And in the last days of this earth’s history, God has set you apart for a very special mission, which is to reflect His image.” He added, “By being here, you are telling Him, ‘Here I am, Lord. Everything I am, everything I have, is Yours. Now use me.”

Stanley Arco, president of SAD, explained the rationale behind the convention. “We dreamed of this because our goal is ‘all of your people can be saved,’ ” he said. “And to be saved, every one of you needs to develop a personal relationship with Jesus, and then share that with all those around you. Our dream is for each one of you to become a missionary, someone who may take other people to Jesus, who may live out and show Jesus in their life.”

Finding Your Life Purpose

The keynote speaker on May 29 was Elbert Kuhn, General Conference director of Adventist Volunteer Service. Kuhn invited participants, “Discover God’s will and purpose for your life tonight.”

Quoting American writer Mark Twain, he said, “There are two significant days in your life. First, the day you are born, and second, the day you find out the reason you were born.”

In the next few minutes, Kuhn called the Adventist young people to embrace “a mission that even angels would love to have,” that is, to “place all the gifts and talents that God has endowed you with to be a blessing and to make a difference in this world.”

Kuhn emphasized that while there are many things they can’t do to change the current state of this world, there’s something they can do: “to decide to become part of a prophetic movement,” placing “all of our lives, talents, creativity, resources, and everything He has given us to bless other people, being God’s own face for them.”

Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review