What would a generation of passionate souls compelled by the Gospel Commission look like?
This weekend I found myself deeply moved as I listened to a leader in one of the most challenging territories of the Seventh-day Adventist Church tell story after story of modern Daniels, Esthers, and Josephs.
He told an audience of 6000 Adventist young adults at the Generation of Youth for Christ (GYC) annual convention in Louisville, Kentucky that the era of sacrifice and courageous service is far from over. In doing so, he adroitly summoned the stated mission of the 13-year old movement:
“There exists, today, an army of dedicated young people within the Seventh-day Adventist church who yearn to demonstrate Nehemiah’s leadership, Daniel’s integrity, Mary’s humility, Paul’s passion for evangelism, and Christ’s love for God and humanity. It is the goal of GYC and its members to seek and galvanize such young people. We aim to mobilize existing youth and young adult ministries that are fully committed to the distinctive message and mission of the Adventist church towards the proclamation of the Three Angels’ Messages.”
As the leader shared stories of integrity, devotion and faithfulness I found myself questioning if I am as committed to living my faith in the land of the free as are these young professionals in places where their faith identity could be a death sentence if made known. I was reminded of the passion that must have stirred the hearts of long-ago Waldensian missionaries as they sought creative ways to share their faith with all of the then known world.
The Adventist young adults he was describing aren’t looking to check off goals on a bucket list, for some, he admitted, may not live a long and peaceful life. The one list on which they want to be included is in the Lamb’s book of life.
As the leader brought his talk to a close, he made an appeal for those willing to commit themselves to the difficult and even dangerous work in his difficult and dangerous region. No music was played to pull on the heart strings. He didn’t use emotional language, nor was his delivery unusually dynamic. It was clear, concise—and compelling.
His phrasing reminded me of polar explorer Earnest Shackleton's supposed advertisement declaring his bold voyage to the frozen southern wilderness of Antarctica:
“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”
It wasn't only men who heard the call this past weekend at GYC. Dozens of Esthers streamed forward as well.
Joel 2:28 predicts amazing gifts and amazing opportunities for dedicated young adults to serve the cause of God:
“In the last days,” God says, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy...”
Tears streamed down my face as I watched these fearless young men and women—sons and daughters—pour down the aisles to the front of the massive meeting hall. Like Christian and Hopeful near the end of their journey towards the Celestial City in John Bunyan’s beautiful allegory Pilgrim’s Progress, the speaker reminded them that, Yes, the river that lies between us and the heavenly city is raging. But it's not our duty to discern a way across. We’re simply called to step forward in faith.
The speaker concluded with words again reminiscent of Shackleton: –
“The journey will be hazardous. It's not for everyone. The wages are low. It may be hot or cold. It may be lonely in the cities of darkness, and the return home may be doubtful. The ultimate sacrifice of laying down your life may be called for — but a crown of honor and a “well-done thou good and faithful servant” will be heard—one day very soon.”
I witnessed the pioneer spirit of Adventism this weekend in Louisville, and it reminded me of the old hymn:
“This world is not my home;
I’m just a-passing through.”
I’ll be praying for those who responded in Louisville, and even now are responding all over the globe.
I pray you’ll do the same.
[email protected] – to be in that number...