Young people hold up signs with positive messages of Jesus’ love as they stand by a traffic light in Guanajuato, in central Mexico as part of their activities to Show Up in the Cities during Global Youth Day, on Mar. 16, 2024. [Photo: Gaby Chagolla]


Young People ‘Show Up in the Cities’ Across Inter-America on Global Youth Day

Young people serve in their cities and communities with acts of kindness.

Inter-American Division Countries | Libna Stevens

Thousands of Seventh-day Adventist young people throughout the Inter-American Division (IAD) territory turned up in cities and communities to serve and spread love and hope during this year’s Global Youth Day (GYD) on Mar. 16, 2024.

The annual initiative led by the youth ministries department of the General Conference motivates young people to get out of their comfort zones to “Be the Sermon.”

Young people were challenged this year to “Show Up in the Cities” in a renewed commitment to serve and transform their city while they follow Jesus’ example, said Pastor Al Powell, Youth Ministries director of the IAD.

This year’s GYD in the IAD included the distribution of The Great Controversy book by Adventist co-founder Ellen G. White, which represents the second consecutive year that publishing ministries have joined GYD. Nearly 3 million hard copies and digital download cards of The Great Controversy were distributed during GYD last year, and leaders expected millions more to be distributed this year, said Isaias Espinoza, Publishing Ministries director of the IAD.

“I saw so many people connecting with people, praying for them, and spreading the good news of salvation through books,” said Pastor Al Powell, Youth Ministries director of the IAD.

Pastor Powell was joined by IAD leaders and local youth leaders in Soacha, a municipality of the metropolitan area of Bogotá, Colombia, where thousands of hard copies and digital cards of The Great Controversy were distributed.

Hundreds of church members took off from their churches throughout the South Colombia Union to distribute more than 31,000 copies of the book in support of the national campaign “Colombia Lee” (Colombia Reads) which promotes reading across the country.

Pastor Elie Henry, president of the IAD, who was present in Bogotá, encouraged young people to continue making a difference in their city and challenged viewers to read the special missionary book the Seventh-day Adventist Church during a short national television interview.

In addition to distributing books, young people also marched through the streets, prayed for people, and distributed food.

Across Mexico

In North Mexico, thousands of digital copies of The Great Controversy were distributed by children, young people, and adults in major cities, towns, and communities. Young people donated blood, distributed food, took part in health screenings, cleaned up parks, and streets, offered prayer to onlookers, shared stickers with a message of hope, marched through the streets, and held special programs with sign language for the deaf community. In addition, young people participated in distributing clothes, offered puppet ministry program for children, visited community centers, nursing homes, and much more.

More than 500 young people met at Monterrey’s Macroplaza, the fourth largest plaza in the world, to promote a healthy lifestyle through the church’s program “I Want to Live Healthy.” The activity included prayer stations, free medicines, healthy foods, a silent drama performance, a musical concert, and more.

“It is very important that each one of us understands that today is dedicated to service and that each of the missionary strategies that the church has is not an end in itself but a means to fall in love with the mission of Jesus,” said Luis Orozco, Youth Ministries director of the North Mexican Union, as he addressed the young people.

Alan Elí Pérez, a youth leader in Monterrey, said he loves to take part in GYD every year. “If we could do this more often, not just once a year, perhaps we could have seen Jesus come sooner,” he said. “We must get out of our comfort zones and preach the gospel as many times as we can.”

In Chiapas, hundreds of young people marched through the main streets and avenues of their municipal districts to spread messages hope as they marched and shared literature with commuters. They distributed water and missionary books, provided health screenings, offered prayers, performed musical concerts, and set up “stores of hope” where people could receive free food and basic toiletries. Young people also visited shelters and distributed food.

Josué Daniel López, a leader in the Angeles Master Guide Club in Tapachula, Chiapas, led a group of young people to march through the streets with a whistle in his hand and a strong voice challenging young people and onlookers that God is with them and can work miracles in their lives.

As they marched, López shared his testimony on how his faith in Jesus had given him strength to overcome any obstacle in his life. “Each young person must give his or her best, trusting that God will provide what you need and that without Him we cannot achieve anything,” he said.

In Central Mexico, young people distributed hundreds of missionary books and magazines and offered a health expo featuring talks on diabetes, obesity, nutrition, and healthy habits. Young people from Tacubaya Adventist Church shared positive messages with posters and banners, distributed books, offered free massages, and prayed with anyone who wanted to be prayed for. Also, dozens of young people from Eben-Ezer Pathfinder Club in Mexico City visited a dog shelter where they bathed, fed, walked, and played with dozens of dogs.

In Cancun, Quintana Roo, young people formed a “Happiness Tunnel” framed with balloons by a popular mall for onlookers to receive a flower, a book, and a prayer for their families if they so desired.

Across the Caribbean

Communities across the Caribbean Union were transformed into centers of ministry during GYD. Over 2,000 young people in the South Leeward Islands prayed for hundreds of people and shared 1,500 bowls of soup. In Virgin Gorda, an island in the North Caribbean Conference, young people delivered 200 breakfast meals, 150 bowls of soup, and provided health screenings. They also coordinated efforts where health professionals gave mental health and nutrition consultations to dozens of people. Young people also recognized police and firefighters for their dedicated service and prayed for people.

The homeless and villagers in St. Thomas and Tortola islands were also fed breakfast. Young people also distributed food baskets and missionary books throughout the streets.

In Guyana and Grenada, hundreds of young people distributed copies of the missionary book, visited the sick in hospitals, elderly homes, and orphanages. They cleaned streets, offered health screenings, and more.

“We took young people into the field to put compassion into action and make an impact for communities in need and they did that,” said Pastor Marvin Smith, Youth Ministries director of the Caribbean Union.

In Cayman Islands, North and South Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos, thousands of young people marched through the streets, distributed books, food, and prayed for drivers and people in the city streets and communities. They also distributed water, spread messages of hope, helped coordinate health screenings, and provided craft activities for the children and health youth rallies to end the day.

“It was a delight observing our youth in sharing the nuggets of joy with their communities,” said Terry Tannis, Youth Ministries director of the Atlantic Caribbean Union.

Meanwhile in Haiti, as several Adventist Churches in the capital city Port-au-Prince remained closed due to escalating violence in the streets, young people form Christ the King Adventist Church in Nazon, Port-au-Prince, distributed drinking water for 600 families in the community.

“The chaotic situation affecting our country is causing a shortage of basic necessities such as water, so as leaders, the spirit of God guided us and we acted despite our limited means to assist the families in the neighborhoods surrounding the church,” said Darline Thermilien, youth leader at the King Adventist Church. Distributing drinking water carried a double message for them, she said. “We wanted to be present in our city by doing like Jesus and sharing the water of life and the message of the gospel that will never dry up.”

Young people throughout Jamaica marched through the streets of Kingston and other main cities and communities on the island, distributed literature and missionary books as well as shared food and visited nursing homes.

Elsewhere in the IAD

Throughout the main cities and communities in Panama, thousands of young people distributed more than 61,000 copies of The Great Controversy, distributed food and clothing, offered prayers in the streets and in homes, spread messages of hope at traffic lights, and donated blood.

“I’m so excited to see the young people actively working with passion and service to others,” said Misael González, Youth Ministries director of the Panama Union. “Global Youth Day shows the world how much we can do for others, showing our pure essence as Adventist young people, without fear of taking the gospel to the cities to reach others,” he said.

In Guatemala, thousands also distributed The Great Controversy, distributed hot meals and food bags, donated blood, visited nursing homes, and helped in providing health screenings. Young people prayed, coordinated free haircuts, and marched through the streets with messages of hope.

Young people showed up in Caracas, Venezuela, and its metropolitan area throughout parks, churches, and fields to testify through music, spiritual messages, and messages to young people. They distributed missionary books, food baskets, hot meals, balloons, and clothing, and provided hugs and prayers. Young people also visited hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, police stations, and fire houses to share short messages of the gospel as well as distribute food.

“It was a very pleasant journey, with spiritual and recreative activities, visiting streets and homes to share hope,” said Angel Zambrano, district pastor in Las Mercedes del Llano.

“For years our young people in the IAD have committed to going beyond the pews to impact the community with purpose and passion and we are so enthused to see so much excitement among youth leaders and young people again this year,” Powell said.

GYD marked the beginning of youth week of prayer across the IAD territory. During the week following GYD, young people are active in preaching from pulpits and leading out in small group ministry. The week’s theme, “Urban Redemption: Youth Transforming Their City”, highlights the need to offer hope through Jesus’ example amid the depression, illness, hopelessness, fear, and uncertainty prevalent in the world today.

Launched in 2013, GYD’s purpose is to recapture the reality of Adventist youth as a global movement mobilized for service, contributing to the proclamation of the everlasting gospel, and ushering in the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Uriel Castellanos, Bequer Jiménez, Helena Corona, Royston Philbert, Henry Moncur, Jean Carmy Felixon, Gabi Chagolla, Johana Garcia, Jean Carmy Felixon, Steven’s Rosado, Laura Acosta, Victor Martínez, Gustavo Menéndez, and Nigel Coke contributed for this report.

The original article was published on the Inter-American Division website.