Nearly 4,000 Adventist youth focus on the global mission of the Church during GYC

Sharing Jesus’ love and the news of His return takes center stage at the five-day gathering.

Seth Shaffer, with Adventist Review staff

Thousands of young people from across the United States and more than 50 other countries have descended on Louisville, Kentucky, to focus on Jesus’ Second Coming and to give something back to the community during an annual GYC convention.

The five-day convention of GYC, or “Generation. Youth. Christ,” is themed “Called. Chosen. Faithful” ran through Jan. 3 at the Kentucky International Convention Center.

Organizers said it was the second-largest GYC convention since the organization was founded in 2002. A total of 3,956 people from 56 countries and 49 of the 50 U.S. states were registered as of Friday, and attendance was expected to peak at 5,000 over the weekend. The largest convention met in Houston in 2011, with 4,500 registered participants and 7,000 people attending on the weekend.

The teens and young adults from so many cultures and nationalities have come together because they are united by a strong desire to share the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 that Jesus is coming soon, said Moises Ratsara, vice president of programming for GYC.

“The message is a universal one, and so is the Adventist Church,” Ratsara said. “It is not just an Anglo message, and GYC is not just a North American organization. It is a global one.”

The message was front and center in the opening remarks of GYC president Natasha Nebblett.

“Who are we anyway? A movement of young people on a mission to take the three angels’ messages to the entire world in this generation,” she said.

Nebblett said, however, that she was convinced that young people lacked one ingredient in sufficient measure to get the job done: love.

“There is one thing and one thing only that will keep us faithful to Jesus Christ through thick and thin, and it is the defining point of the remnant,” she said. “And that is love, all-consuming love for the Almighty.”

Young people planned to put love into action on Friday by boarding 43 buses to visit Louisville residents in their homes and elsewhere. Participants planned to offer Bible and health studies, collect canned food for a local food bank, sing at a nursing home, hand out flyers for an evangelistic series, and replace batteries in people’s fire alarms.

GYC presenters said they were pleased to be among such a large group of young people eager to serve Jesus and expressed hope that their presentations would encourage them.

“I am here because I have a burden for young people,” said Danielle Harrison, founder of Into His Light, a ministry that encourages sexual purity. “It was in my youth that I turned and walked away from the Lord. I know how pivotal a time that is and how much we need answers and information, and I wish that back then I could have been equipped with some of this information that I have today.”

Charissa Fong, an Australian evangelist who preaches around the world, said her love for the three angels’ messages led her to the GYC convention.

“I am passionate about this message and this is a gathering of young people,” she said. “I think this is a message that is to be nourished and understood so we can passionately spread it.”

Homer Trecartin, president of the Adventist Church’s Middle East and North Africa Union, told attendees on Friday that the way to succeed was through prayer.

“Prayer is the constant vibration that will bring down the pillars of Satan’s kingdom,” he said.