An Army of Youth and a Boatload of Books
I was a youth of 19 when I joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church some 35 years ago. Though I still sometimes feel like a youth and aspire with youthful passion for things that pertain to life and godliness, the mirror and my diminishing stamina do remind me that I’m no longer in this age group. But what a joy it was to spend the last remaining days of 2017 in company with “an army of youth” who gathered at the annual GYC Convention (Generation of Youth for Christ) held in Phoenix, AZ.
What a blessing it was to be among literally thousands of young people (ages 17-35 primarily) from across the nation and abroad gathered in one place. They may have come for different reasons, as I did; but regardless of the reasons they came, what matters was the fact that they were there. And God was there! And that was an inescapable reality.
As is typical of most Adventist gatherings of this kind, there were lots of meetings and seminars and exhibit hall hours. All of these were excellent. The general assembly meetings in particular had a very evangelistic fervor and spirit. With so many Adventist young people still on the fence spiritually in terms of their commitment to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, it seemed that all of the programs and messages were designed to up lift Christ before them, calling these precious young people to a decision for Him and a life of missionary service. Hundreds responded to these calls given over the course of our three day sojourn in God’s presence. It was an awesome and truly heartwarming experience for me as I recalled the day I made my first commitment to follow Christ so many years ago.
So, what does all this have to do with PROJECT: Steps to Christ? Bear with me; I am almost there.
One of the highlights of GYC, besides the great meetings, seminars, and fellowship we experienced, was OUTREACH. This was scheduled Friday afternoon from noon to four o’clock. This year there were three different outreaches: 1) a door-to-door survey to find Bible study interests, 2) a canned food drive for the local food pantry, and 3) assembly of refugee relief packets for the many refugees that live in Phoenix. No one was required to go on outreach, so it was purely voluntary. But amazingly, thousands participated.
Of course, you can imagine the many good reasons one might find to excuse his or her self from outreach. I could think of two: I am a ministry exhibitor so I need to attend to my booth and, if I go, I won’t have time to prepare for Sabbath. I brought it before the Lord in the hopes He would confirm my seemingly legitimate excuses. He didn’t. The booths this year were closed during outreach hours and He also took care of my Sabbath prep concerns.
To be honest, my real reason for not wanting to go on outreach was my intimidation with door-to-door work. I do love it, but it’s just working up the courage to go out and do it that makes me uncomfortable. So I told the Lord I would go if I could chose the refugee packet outreach over the other two options. Boy was I surprised when they announced you couldn’t choose your preference. You were to get on one of the awaiting school buses that would take you on your respective outreach and at that time they would announce which outreach you were going on. And you can guess which outreach I was Divinely ordained to participate in. My door-to-door teammate and I were given a map of the streets we were to survey and a handful of small tracts to pass out. I am so thankful that all the Lord’s biddings are enablings. I knew I could do this with His blessing. And I claimed it!
Friday afternoons are probably not the best time to go on outreach as many people aren’t home, but that was the time allotted us so we made the best of it. Out of the twenty or so doors we knocked on, we had only one positive contact. We spent about forty minutes at her door ministering to her. She willingly signed up for an online Bible study. Of the remaining few homes that were occupied, only one other took the survey and few took our literature. This was sad but not surprising, but we took courage for the ONE SOUL whom God had given us the opportunity to meet and bless.
So on the return trip back to the convention center, I pondered over the fact that of all the people’s homes we personally visited, the majority were either not home or refused our efforts to bless them. This was the experience of all the GYC door-to-door teams. If it weren’t for the fact that I worked for a ministry ordained and called of God to reach those very homes we fail to reach by personal effort, I might have been discouraged. But I rejoiced that through PROJECT: Steps to Christ these very homes might again be given the opportunity to hear the gospel message. A rejection at the door doesn’t necessarily mean a closed or unreceptive heart. We live in a society and age where door-to-door solicitation is not welcome or appreciated as it may have once been. We need to recognize the fact that a religious solicitation at the door is going to be generally equated as a call from either the Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses. PROJECT: Steps to Christ makes it possible to bypass these hurdles and give us guaranteed access into every home with our truth filled literature via the US Postal Service. God is good!!!
What then shall we say? Our outreach at GYC was an overwhelming success, not necessarily in terms of numbers reached but in terms of its impact on the young (and old) people who went out and the few lives they touched. I look forward to the day when just “such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained,” flood all the streets in the cities and villages of our land, giving the last message of warning. How soon, then, would “the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world! How soon might the end come,–the end of suffering and sorrow and sin! How soon, in place of a possession here, with its blight of sin and pain, our children might receive their inheritance where ‘the righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever’; where ‘the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick,’ and ‘the voice of weeping shall be no more heard.’” Counsels to Teachers, Parents, and Students, p. 555.
So let’s pray for our young people that out of them God would raise up a mighty “army of youth” so greatly needed to help finish this work and hasten Christ’s soon return. And let us not forget to pray for that work that can only be accomplished by the printed page as well. Your brother in Christ, Steve
“The press is a powerful instrumentality which God has ordained to be combined with the energies of the living preacher to bring the truth before all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples. Many minds can be reached in no other way.” Colporteur Ministry, p. 148