On February 14-16, 2020, 230 youth and young adults attended the Lake Union Youth Evangelism Congress in Shipshewana, Indiana, United States, to be encouraged and act on the Holy Spirit’s call for evangelism.
This event was unique in that it is the only event of its kind in the world that provides young people with a matching fund opportunity of US$100,000 (provided by the Lake Union, conferences, and local churches) to make creative evangelism in their local church a reality.
Organized by the Center for Youth Evangelism, the weekend’s theme was Courageous, and the keynote speaker was Justin Khoe, founder of the popular YouTube channel “i’m Listening with Justin Khoe,” formerly known as “That Christian Vlogger.” Khoe shared his journey from literature evangelist to YouTube personality, using the online video platform as an evangelistic tool and building a community of almost 100,000 subscribers, despite having no media training.
“I felt a burden to reach those who hadn’t heard this gospel and thought, ‘Where are my time and energies spent? What does serving my local church sound like?’” he said. “I realize the gospel commission is to go into the world and share it with those who haven’t heard it before.”
Khoe encouraged the multi-generational crowd of 300 to confront their fears. “Perfect love casts out fear. Living a life of courage is not rooted in your actions but your identity. It’s not something you earn … it’s something you receive. When God speaks identity over you, that’s who you are.”
Presenters also included Melissa Taylor (Indiana’s Art & Soul), Lilly Widdicombe (Michigan's Fieldwork), Connor Nelson and Sheree Skinner (Michigan's We are Called), Matthew Lucio (Peoria Illinois Digital Church), and Joel Campbell (Green Bay Wisconsin Street Team), among others.
Isaac Smith from Village Seventh-day Adventist Church in Berrien Springs, Michigan, was one of the young people sponsored by their local church to attend. His goal is to help produce Village church’s podcast through interviews because, he said, he believes that God has not only called him to tell stories but to listen as well. On the final day of the conference, he shared how his life was impacted by what he had experienced.
“This weekend really showed me how many other people are out there, trying to do things in their own way, and it was inspiring to feel that comradery,” Smith said.
Adventist Christian Fellowship at Purdue (ACFP) president Myles Chapman and officers Joel Taina and Adrian Calderon attended the event. They decided to adopt a concept presented by Joshua Guerrero and the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point ACF. With help from the Lafayette church, they will have an ACFP Campus House to give their organization a permanent presence on Purdue’s vast campus.
“The 2020 Courageous Youth Congress has brought blessings that I didn’t expect to come. I came into this weekend uncertain of the nature of future ACFP projects,” Chapman said. “I left with a ministry plan and the resources needed to execute. I realize now that God provides everything we need to succeed in ministry, and that we must simply be courageous in taking steps with Him.”
Young Adult Advisory
The Lake Union Young Adult Advisory followed on February 16-17. Mediated by youth training expert Steve Case, a selection of young adults representing the five Lake Union conferences discussed issues important to them and provided input for youth directors and conference staff to glean from. The vote was unanimous to pilot the nine Church of Refuge (COR) principles as a tool to evaluate the condition of local churches compared with healthy Adventist churches around NAD territory.
COR values, which are Sabbath, Discipleship, Acceptance, Community, Support, Service, Leadership, Budget and Change, is not a to-do list, an event, or a program. It is a group of principles developed by healthy churches around the NAD territory, according to NAD research.
The next Lake Union Youth Evangelism Congress will take place in 2022, with the theme of Unstoppable.