An Opportunity of a Lifetime

An Opportunity of a Lifetime

by David Asscherick  |  September 6, 2013

It’s hard to believe, really. It happened to me, and I’m still trying to grasp it, to take it in. What happened?

Well, I just preached to representatives from more than 110 countries during two globally-significant, Seventh-day Adventist Youth Congresses. It is unlikely that I will ever have a similar opportunity during my ministry. What a privilege and an honor this has been!

The first Congress was held in Pretoria, South Africa from July 8-13, the second in Novi Sad, Serbia from July 30 to August 3. The theme for the South African Congress, which is held just once every five years, always in a different country, was Jesus in the City. It is put on by the General Conference Youth Department. The theme in Novi Sad, at the Pan-European Youth Congress, was The Power of One, an unambiguous reference to Jesus Christ. Somewhere around 8000 Seventh-day Adventist young people attended these two Congresses! Talk about an opportunity to impact the church and the world globally!

God was glorified. Jesus was uplifted. And lives, of course, were changed. Because that’s what happens when Christ is preached.

In South Africa, my theme for the evening meetings addressed a re-envisioning and reconstruction of the Adventist message with “God is love” (1 John 4:8) at the very center. This should not be, of course, revolutionary, but, sadly, for many in our church it is. I started with the non-negotiable truth that “God is love” and sought to build our doctrinal and missional identity from there.

One of the many evidences I cited was Ellen White’s opening and closing lines in her five-volume Conflict of the Ages series. Patriarchs and Prophets opens with this arresting line:

“God is love.” His nature, His law, is love. It ever has been; it ever will be. “The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity,” whose “ways are everlasting,” changeth not. With Him “is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Every manifestation of creative power is an expression of infinite love. The sovereignty of God involves fullness of blessing to all created beings. 

And The Great Controversy, the very book responsible for bringing me, a former purple-haired punk rocker, to faith closes with this poetic, almost rapturous, sentence:

The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love. 

Ellen White understood the absolute centrality of God’s character and nature. Without this foundational understanding, the long conflict between good and evil, Christ and Satan, makes little sense. The biblical message, and thus the Adventist message, must start and end on this absolutely central theme.

After six presentations, I felt confident that the Lord had used me to bring His love, goodness, and glory to the forefront of the thinking of the thousands of attendees. The translators (there were more than ten!) did a marvelous and spirit-filled job. I am humbly indebted to them and their spirit-given skills.

God was glorified. Jesus was uplifted. And lives, of course, were changed. Because that’s what happens when Christ is preached.

The Pan-European Youth Congress, in Novi Sad, was arranged differently. Each speaker was assigned both a topic and a day. The topics were: The Power of Jesus to Make Us One, The Power of Jesus to Make Us New, The Power of Jesus to Make Us Grow, and The Power of Jesus to Make Us Strong. I was assigned the third day: The Power of Jesus to Make Us Grow. Additionally, I delivered five workshop sessions on two topics: The Missional Lifestyle and Our Prophetic Identity.

Once again, I sought to lift Jesus and His saving and growing power higher and still higher. Unlike South Africa, I had an onstage translator. I was nervous about this, but my translator, Bozidar, did an absolutely fantastic job! We made an odd-looking couple, with me at 5’ 8 and him at 6’ 8! I joked to the attendees that I was passing up the opportunity of a lifetime to preach on David and Goliath! Only we couldn’t figure out who would be David and who would be Goliath! Too funny.

Like South Africa, the Spirit filled each of the presenters, and Jesus was glorified! There is no doubt that when I look back on my ministry many years from now––whether in heaven or on earth––I will regard these two opportunities, each within a couple weeks of the other, as one of the highlights of my life.

I am so thankful to the Father and His Son, Jesus, for the life they have given me. All I want to do is give everything I can back to Them.

Don’t you feel the very same?

David Asscherick Speaker
Light Bearers
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