More than 60 teens ages 14 to 16, representing the nine Australian conferences, attended the seventh CHOSEN conference in Brisbane July 4-8, 2022. CHOSEN is a national teen leadership training event.
The organizers said they were grateful that most attendees were able to make it, as many flights were disrupted due to the recent floods in Sydney. Flight cancellations caused two teens to return home.
CHOSEN encourages local pastors and church leaders to nominate teenagers with potential leadership qualities to attend the program, where they are mentored, inspired, and trained to become future leaders of the Adventist Church.
The event “is such a powerful week for everyone involved,” Jeff Parker, Australian Union Conference youth director, said. “There is no doubt in my mind that the [Adventist] Church will benefit with these teens leading it, both now in their local setting and in the future across the broader church.”
“Watching the Holy Spirit work in the teens’ lives was very humbling. We all left with a sense of, ‘Wow!’ It was such a powerful week,” Parker said.
Some of the topics presented at this year’s event included connecting deeper with God, resilience, mental health, understanding one’s uniqueness, and leadership development. The program also included powerful morning worships and inspiring sermons at night, which incorporated the Northpine Adventist School Chapel Band.
The program focuses on team building, networking, mentoring, and having fun.
“It was so good. Words can’t describe how good it was,” Danika Arrutchz, from Aitkenvale Adventist church in the Northern Australian Conference, said. “I liked how it was focused on young people to bring out our leadership characteristics.”
She added, “When my pastor first approached me about CHOSEN, I was worried because I thought I wasn’t a good candidate. I am grateful he chose me because CHOSEN is a good way for teenagers to find their leadership potential, to work on it, and build up these qualities.”
CHOSEN was first held in 2008 and has seen many teenagers from the earlier conferences become leaders in the Adventist Church. Two of these leaders returned to this year’s program as mentors. One of them was Eden Ashcroft, young adult coordinator in youth ministries at the Greater Sydney Conference. Ashcroft first attended the conference in 2012 when she was 14 years old.
When asked to go to CHOSEN as a teenager, Ashcroft had only recently started attending the Seventh-day Adventist Church and was the only person in her family to attend. She didn’t have many Adventist friends and didn’t know much about the church.
“CHOSEN was an awesome experience. It was the first time I was exposed to the wider Adventist Church, and I made lots of friends,” she explained. “It was life-changing, making connections and meeting leaders in the church.”
Ashcroft added, “The conference was where I first felt the call to ministry and knew I wanted to be a pastor. I had never been to Big Camps or Summer Camps before CHOSEN, so it opened the door to what was out there and that there were other people my age who wanted to serve God too.”
Going back to the conference in 2022 as a mentor was an amazing experience where she was able to watch the next group of young leaders, she said.
“A lot of the teens ask themselves what they are doing at the conference, but there was a reason each of them was chosen,” Ashcroft explained. “It’s great to see the change over the week as the teens start to understand that they are able to be leaders. They might think they cannot do it, but they are encouraged that even though they are young, they still have a lot to offer God.”
CHOSEN will be held again in 2023, and then every two years after that, organizers reported. “The Australian Union Conference would like to encourage pastors to nominate teenagers in their church to be part of this life-changing experience,” they said.