GYC 2011: One Man’s Reflections

by Jeffrey Rosario  |  January 19, 2011

Recently, I returned from Baltimore, Maryland where I attended the Generation of Youth for Christ (GYC) convention. About 7,000 people traveling from 42 countries around the world came together for this power-packed long weekend. They attended plenary meetings and chose from some 43 different seminars! The seminar topics ranged from evangelism, personal spirituality, prophecy, practical godliness, theology, Christian philosophy and more.

On Friday afternoon I presented a workshop on the importance of giving Bible studies. That topic is close and personal to me. It hits home. I recounted relevant moments from my own spiritual journey and told the story of my initial encounter with the God of Scripture. You see, I came into this movement the old school way–– straight up Bible studies! And sure, it was encouraging to see many attendees come out and express interest in a subject so close to my heart. But as I was teaching, I found myself asking, “Does anyone here really resonate with this? Has anyone in this room had a similar experience?” Just then, I looked out into the room of hundreds and met eyes with a familiar face. It was Brandon! Brandon Marcum-Gonzalez is a 20-year-old college student and a brand new believer. Just a few weeks before, and some 3,000 miles away, Brandon was waiting around for some friends on the campus of Columbia College near Sonora, California when he noticed two ARISE students, Tara Gieck and Rayon Thompson. Little did he suspect, they were there on a mission to hand out flyers to some prophecy meeting and apparently just talking to random people. Then they approached Brandon. Immediately a good conversation ensued in the course of which Brandon expressed interest in spiritual things. No sooner said, than done! A Bible study appointment was scheduled, and the rest, as they say, is history.

That was just the beginning of a new and surprising spiritual journey for Brandon. In a matter of just weeks he would find himself at the Sonora Seventh-Day Adventist church attending the Discover Prophecy seminar. He never could’ve imagined the things which God, through the weekly studies and seminar sessions, was revealing to him. It was like a dream, only he was awake. Then, on the last night of the meetings I made an appeal for people to respond to the everlasting Gospel and join the Advent Movement of Revelation chapter 12. I was inspired when Brandon, seated like a good college student at the front, literally jumped to his feet and took his stand. That night he was the catalyst for the many others who followed in his steps and who shared in his stand. He stood for Jesus. It’s been an amazing journey for him: from what seemed just an ordinary day, to what seemed just a random conversation, to what seemed just Bible study, to what seemed just a prophecy seminar, to a radical commitment. Because with God, nothing is ever just what is seems. God is always on the move. Next thing I know, our eyes are meeting in my workshop, and there he is at GYC––fellowshipping with some 7,000 fired up Adventists from all over the world! (Like Brandon, every one of them with a story!)

And all this in a matter of weeks. Because God doesn’t just move. Sometimes, He moves fast! Really fast. Go read the books of Acts again, and notice how many times words like “suddenly” and “immediately” occur. You see, God is in a hurry to save souls, shouldn’t we be? After the workshop, Brandon walks straight up to me and asks how he can get involved in ministry! My heart thrills within me at his words. This is what its all about. I whisper a prayer to heaven: “O Lord, for every Brandon Marcum-Gonzalez out there, give us a thousand more!” And then it dawns on me. There were hundreds and thousands of “Brandons” all around me that weekend. There they were: young people from all corners of the globe, taking time from their holidays to travel, who knows how many miles, to some convention in search of fellowship, worship, and biblical instruction. On Sabbath, over 70 buses––70!––were filled with GYC attendees. Thousands took to the cold streets. But though the streets were cold, their hearts were radiantly warm with the love of God. The Brandons were going out to look for more Brandons! They knocked on some 38,000 doors and invited more than a thousand people to study the Bible. These things have never been done before.

Without question, the Spirit of God is moving on people. Because, again, God is always on the move. It was all so exciting, so thrilling, so moving. No doubt about it. And yet amidst all the energy, the amens, the hallelujahs, the singing, I couldn’t help but think to myself: What are we going to do the other 360 days of the year? Is this just another pep rally? Because frankly, I’m sick of pep rallies. I hope we’re not thinking that one exciting weekend a year is going to finish the work. Not gonna happen. I woke up on Sabbath morning with this very thought on my mind. I made my way to the divine service. Pastor Ted Wilson, the newly-elected president of the worldwide Seventh-Day Adventist church, was slated to preach. I sat there, with thousands of others, confronted with some questions that address the heart of the matter: “. . . how many of you attended your last local church business meeting. . . How many of you regularly attend prayer meeting at your local church? How many of you volunteer at your local community services center? How many of you regularly seek out non-believers to lead to Jesus through personal Bible study? How many of you teach in your church’s cradle roll/beginners division? How about kindergarten, primary, juniors, or earliteens, or even the youth group?” I couldn’t believe my ears. He absolutely nailed it. And this, no less, was coming from the head honcho!

Indeed, this is a new era. We are turning a new page. We, young Adventist Christians, are being summoned. That’s right, summoned. Not patronized. Not patted on the back. Not force-fed some rah-rah speech. The preacher’s call was, and is, to remove the “serious gap between intentions and actual participation.” He continued: “Young people, roll up your sleeves and work for Christ. Breathe life into your local Sabbath School program by showing up on time having studied your Bible and Sabbath school lesson and being prepared to enthusiastically discuss what you’ve learned. Let the older members see young people in prayer meeting interceding for others before God’s throne of grace. Give the 85-year-olds a hand and meet some of the truly needy in your area by volunteering at your community services center. Carry and distribute evangelistic literature wherever you go.” So simple, yet so true: “We must come to the realization that the first step in finishing the work is actually going to work.” There’s not a whole lot left to say, just a whole lot left to do. I’m a Brandon. You’re a Brandon. Let’s go find other Brandons.

Jeffrey Rosario Speaker
Light Bearers
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