Dear Mr. President, North American Division which we so proudly are representatives of, and World Church:
We are here to inform you that there exists an army of young people — in North America and in this generation. There exists an army of young people on a mission to proclaim the Three Angels’ Messages to the whole world.
Our records indicate that nearly 800 people are present this evening, and an additional 200 would join us by the time our conference concludes. Many of those present have, on their own, raised the funds required for this meeting, traveling from outside the state of Michigan at their own expense. At our first conference in Pine Springs Ranch, CA, we were forced to close registration after hosting nearly 400 young people — double the number we expected. We welcome you again, friends and guests from all around North America, Central & South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Expect to be blessed.
The General Youth Conference is becoming an answer to the cry of our church for something better in youth ministry.
Socio-economic or academic status, race or ethnicity, and age and generation do not divide us. We believe in biblical unity. Not all have been trained and educated at our denomination’s institution: Andrews University, or at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. Some have graduated from small self-supporting institutions such as Ouachita Hills Academy & College — one of our denominations best. Others attend or have attended our nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning, serving as missionaries — yes missionaries — to such institutions like Harvard, Princeton, and our host — the University of Michigan. Our GYC board consists of a variety of nationalities — African American, Asian, Hispanic, and Caucasian. It also consists of a wide spectrum of occupations — medical students, a physician, teachers, pastors, and theologians-in-the-making. We even have some sociologists and a journalist.
But although we may be diverse in ethnicity and vocation, we are strongly united in this our mission: to posses the leadership of Nehemiah, the integrity of Daniel, the passion for evangelism of Paul, and the love for souls of Christ. For this reason, we have chosen as our theme this year: “Higher than the Highest.”
“Our ideas of education take too narrow and too low a range. There is a need of a broader scope, a higher aim.” “Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children, godliness, Godlikeness is the goal to be reached.” It is GYC’s goal that each of us strives to attain by the mighty grace of Christ.
We have heard a rumor that we do not wish to believe. It has been brought to our attention that some of our church leaders, scholars, pastors, and members sincerely believe that young people have a desire to be “spiritually” entertained due to the lack of relevance in the direct preaching of what is sometimes considered an outdated, traditional, or culturally conditioned gospel message. But there are nearly 800 young people here before you, questioning the viability of the sample group where this inconclusive research has been done. We wish not to settle for mediocrity, for we are striving to be part of the message — the distinctive message — and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church: a message and a mission of nothing but divine excellence!
We understand that “to love Him, the infinite, the omniscient One, with the whole strength, and mind, and heart means the highest development of every power” — the physical, mental, and spiritual. And so we choose to rise high — higher than the highest in our standards of education. For education–true education means more than to excel in a certain course of study; it considers the whole being, and the whole period of existence possible to man. We choose to rise higher than the highest in our lifestyles and conduct, activities and events. This is why next year Amazing Facts College of Evangelism will host the conference and conduct a youth-run evangelistic effort just prior to opening night. We wish to rise higher than the inexcusable racism among us manifested in local congregations and the partition of conferences in God’s Remnant Church. Young people can come together; let the Church also come together. We strive to excel above the preaching of watered-down wannabe Adventism that is founded on ill hermeneutics, higher criticism, and the argumentation of God-less intellectual faithlessness. If the preaching of the cross be foolishness to sinful man, we choose to be simplistic fools–as long as we reach God’s ideal for His children.
What young people seek today is nothing less than that which is higher than the sacrilegious worldliness creeping into youth meetings, programs, and events under the banner of a more relevant and modern youthful message.
Indeed, there is a frantic need of a broader scope, a desperate need for a higher aim. There is a need for true education–education that leads to redemption and brings an excellence that is beyond the grasp of mere humanness! Young people need and young people want today a leadership-initiated revolution otherwise known as a revival of primitive godliness and biblical evangelism and worship in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Only then can we be ready to meet Jesus. Only then can we represent Him rightly. Only then can we keep our young people in this church. Help us! For we must prepare this army of young people on a mission to proclaim the three angels’ messages to the whole world… in our generation. Welcome to the General Youth Conference.
This opening address was directed to the president of the Michigan Conference who was the first conference officer to support GYC with his presence. Participating in the event for the first time, the purpose of this message was to introduce to the church a new breed of Adventist young people.