The good news is that young people have been and still are a fearless army for God, and it takes more than a global pandemic to stop them! The bad news is that many times this army has faced the enemy without “weapons” or, better said, “resources.”
Ellen White once said, “With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world!” (Education, p. 271)
I believe that as a church we are pretty good at training them because young people bring new energy to local congregations, and rightly trained they must be, but what about “might furnish”? We expect much from them, but how could we furnish them?
Every two years, the Youth Evangelism Congress, organized by the Lake Union Conference, puts in practice a simple concept to furnish our youth “army.”
The concept is simple. For every dollar voted for an evangelism project by a local church board, the Youth Evangelism Congress will match the amount with another dollar, for up to $50,000! That means $100,000 dollars exclusively for evangelism projects developed by senior youth and young adults in Lake Union.
As far as we know, there is no precedent in the world where Adventist youth are receiving this kind of support, and we are happy, because this joint effort has made it possible, so far, to have held a total of 72 evangelism projects for a total amount of $353,872, collectively, for all four Congress Sessions of LUC Youth Evangelism (2013, 2016, 2018, 2020).
To better understand the dimension of this financial support, each evangelism project approved in the 2020 edition of the Youth Evangelism Congress had an average total budget of $6,500. Imagine what young people in your church could do with that, but most importantly, imagine how valuable they will feel with such support and vote of trust from the Church.
There are several experiences to share, from traditional outreach efforts to original and unique ideas. Some succeeded immediately, some seemed without fruit, but only in Heaven will we know the true results.
One of these stories occurred in 2020 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where 26-year-old Joshua Guerrero brought a project proposal application for a “Campus House at University of Wisconsin– Stevens Point.” In 2018 he had presented their first project, but this one was bigger.
To the question, “What is your project about? What is its aim or purpose?”, he answered, “The purpose of this project is to provide a space where college students on our public campus can explore and seek Jesus in a non-threatening environment. Having a campus house/center creates this environment where students not only have a safe place to open up and explore God but also see what living as a Christian is like. As a result, these students can be equipped as leaders and disciple-makers for Christ that winsomely share and live His beautiful truth and [the] vibrancy of the Adventist Church message as found in the Word of God.”
Their dream for the rental of this place for evangelism probably didn't start in 2020, but the vote of trust and the budget were available at that time and the application was approved.
The full story of the Campus House that blessed their university campus was published in the Lake Union Herald news online, on August 12, 2021, under the title, “Public campus ministry in Wisconsin makes adjustment and reaps windfall.”
In the same way, but this time youth from Michigan, Cady and Khaikhai Cin (siblings), Lian Cing and Joseph Kual (siblings), and Tuan Pau came to the 2016 session of the Youth Evangelism Congress with a dream: to launch the Myanmar Community Service Organization.
They just needed the funds and trust of the church for this ministry, oriented to assist their fellow refugee community in Grand Rapids and Battle Creek. They applied for funds in 2016 and 2018 and received enough to launch their dream ministry.
At that time, their team was working for over 400 people providing any kind of support that a refugee will need. It is possible to imagine that with the strike of the pandemic this ministry could disappear, but that was not God's plan.
This is part of a report we received in August 2021 from Shirley Finneman, Director of Battle Creek Adventist Community Services and Disaster Response, who supports the initiative of this young group.
“This year their pastor was ordained, and he is in the middle of evangelistic meetings in Grand Rapids. A few weeks ago, in Battle Creek, they had a Youth Camp, and six young people were baptized.”
The list of activities they keep doing is endless and has spread across the U.S. and Myanmar.
"Cady has gone up the ranks to Human Resources at her job. On the side, she runs the Community Services ministry and is still helping people.
“Right now, she is helping with the children in evangelistic meetings in Grand Rapids. On the side, she and others have, after counseling with the NAD, started a private organization to help people in Myanmar to cope with COVID-19.”
Their support for Myanmar during the pandemic was a challenge due to the fact that the military government in that country banned doctors from helping COVID-19 patients. But what we can mention is that many miracles happened, and the will to help this ministry is UNSTOPPABLE.
That is precisely what our theme is for the 2022 LUC Youth Evangelism Congress: UNSTOPPABLE. And with all due respect for the pandemic, with God’s blessing, we need to keep our senior youth and young adults Rightly Trained, and Furnish them for the mission.