GYC: Day 1
Hello everyone. This is Janice checking in from GYC. I will try to keep you informed on my personal experience here in San Jose, California this year. I’m not feeling well, so your prayers are much appreciated.
This reminds me of a scene in a movie. Why am I running, why am I late? Tuesday my sister and I finished up the semester, drove home to Austin, and did about 6 hours worth of laundry before having to leave and catch our flight to this year’s Generation of Youth For Christ (GYC).
My sister and I jumped out of one line and sprinted across the airport in hopes we’d make it through the security line and reach Gate 15. “You’re not gonna make it. It’s too late.” We shrugged in frustration as the American Airlines agent gave us the verdict. I never check luggage, but this time I had to with 4 nights and 5 days worth of shoes and clothes my bag was just over the supposed 45 inch limit. After splitting up and waiting in two separate lines for 30 minutes, the attendant looked at us and said, “Why don’t you just carry them on? Chunk everything…chunk all your liquids, and maybe….” That was the trigger to get us sprinting towards Gate 15.
3 minutes prior to our flight departure time of 7:05AM, I made it on board. My bag ended up getting checked at the gate, lost, found, and delivered to my hotel in San Jose, California some time after 9PM. We’d arrived and discovered my bag was missing, and spent the day traveling by bus and light rail to replace my wardrobe and essentials.
In the course of all the chaos two miracles convicted us that GYC is where we need to be this week before Christmas. The first is obvious – we made it through security and on the plane in time for our flight. The second occurred during unbudgeted shopping to replace my missing attire. I was a little on edge about having to make these unnecessarily necessary purchases when a woman out of no where approached me from behind the clothing rack. She offered me a $35-off coupon. Wow. My sister and I looked at each other and said – that’s a miracle.
And so, GYC began.
It was very clear God was guiding us to GYC, and since we’ve arrived His presence is undeniably vivid. Last year was my first GYC, so while I thought I knew what to expect – the radical Christianity/Adventism exhibited here was still something I had to warm up to. Attire is one of the first things you’ll notice that’s different about this youth/young adult conference. Now, of course we’re in California this year so the long skirts and 3ABN turtlenecks don’t decorate the runway as heavily as they did last year, but it’s the expected norm. Beyond dress, GYC successfully calls for excellence and the exhibition of genuine Christian/Adventist character. What I love, is that we get the chance to see and be a part of that response at this annual conference.
The point is – don’t expect to show up at GYC and not face this choice over and over and over and over again.
Day 1 was no different, they told us as they welcomed up that we’re “. . . looking for an earthquake of revival of true godliness.” We started shaking things up around 7PM (PST) which was difficult shift in time especially for those coming from the East Coast.
Each night special organizations and ministries are featured during the program in a segment entitled “Something’s Happening.” Last night we heard from GLOW which stands for Giving Lights to Our World. This ministry encourages everyone to get involved in a somewhat passive form of evangelism, by distributing literature in creative venues such as restrooms and hiding them inside barbecue grills at department stores. Whatever your “sphere of influence” may be goglow.org.
We also heard from Finish the Work Ministry which encouraged us to take the spirit of GYC back home to the local church. This ministry is sponsored by the ASI Pacific Union and is geared towards young adults ages 18-28. Check them out here: finishthework.net.
And then there was the message. Already our day was filled with excitement, prayer, relief, and joy. We finally got to the heart of GYC conferences. These weird young people get up and listen to sermon/lecture after sermon/lecture from roughly 7AM to 9PM each day during the conference. Trust me, somehow everyone falls in love with the concept wishing they could take it back home and figuring out some way to make it back next year.
It was a simple message from a banker, also known as GYC President Justin McNeilus. The theme this year at GYC is “For This Purpose,” and Justin’s message title asked “For What Purpose?” He recounted the story of David setting up the success of his successors in 1 Chronicles 28. After David said his purpose was to build the house of the Lord, God said no – this was a task for the next generation (David’s Kingdom 2.0).
“Generations before us weren’t enough,” McNeilus appealed for new recruits to join the army of youth, “God needs you.” McNeilus shared how when David recognized Solomon’s purpose, he gave him a warning in 1 Kings 2:5. McNeilus suggested this warning is just as important for our generation today – “Remember what Joab did to [David], Abner, and Amasa.” Real quick from the notes I sketched:
1) Amasa was betrayed with a kiss (2 Samuel 20:9): The enemy will use people you respect to derail you from the purpose, so be students of the bible – always keep your eyes on God.
2) Joab takes Abner’s life (2 Samuel 3:20+): How many innocent people will die because modern day Israelites can’t get along? Treat the other side like David, not like Joab.
3) Joab selects a woman to distract David (2 Samuel 14:2): Could it be that in the end times, Satan uses the church aka “the woman” to distract us from the purpose? Go to worship God when you go to church – be there for Him, not for yourself.
McNeilus shared a conversation he had with Jan Paulsen over lunch one day where our General Conference President said, “We’re waiting for a generation who takes ownership of the church.” McNeilus described what that might look like in 3 points:
1) Owner doesn’t give up
2) Owner doesn’t check in/check out
3) Owner proclaims unashamedly
4) Owner looks internally before looking externally
McNeilus wrapped up the night by stressing the need for us as owners to get in there and fix whatever is broken in the church. “God is calling for young people to take it seriously day in and day out. Will you join me?” he asked. GYC is not an annual convention. GYC is that soul you lead in your dorm room. GYC asks for full hearted service to God, because “God has saved us for something better.”
So as the earth history comes to an end and revelation unfolds, McNeilus asked “What will she [the angel] write about this generation?”
End of message.
That was the 2 hours worth of programming GYC had to offer Wednesday night as we all piled into San Jose, California. Thursday is perhaps the most intensive day – details coming tomorrow.
While we are residing in the comforts of 4-star hotels with chocolate on our plush pillows – this is no retreat. This is spiritual boot camp.
Keep you posted.