On behalf of the GENERAL YOUTH CONFERENCE Executive Board, I would like to thank each one present this evening for making this conference a part of your prayers and plans this year. Please remember to join us again next December 17-21, 2003, for our second annual General youth Conference in Michigan hosted by the University of Michigan Campus Ministries. Thank you Loma Linda University Advent HOPE for hosting us this year.
On behalf of the committees in charge of planning these December conference meetings, I would like to extend a warm and cordial welcome to each and every single one of you! Expect to be blessed!
Since its birth, our church has undergone major changes. In 1844, our founding parents were almost all under the age of 25. It was a church that was mostly made up of young people. It was also a mono-ethnic church claiming its territory for the most part in the eastern and mid-western parts of the United States. However, through the prophetic eye, God gave vision to His people to, not only reach the African-American communities in the southern states, and the people out in the western part of our country, but to extend its arms all over the world — to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.
Today, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is a multicultural, a multiethnic, and a worldwide movement so that our General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is made up of 12 world divisions, nearly 49,000 churches totaling a membership of over 12 million Seventh-day Adventist red, and yellow, black and white believers! Our church growth is rapid. It is estimated that 2,860 people, every day, accept our truth as revealed in Scripture and make a decision to give their lives completely to God by way of baptism. Indeed, our church has gone through some major changes.
Another major change that our church has undergone is the change of times in which we live. Although we believe that we’ve been living in the time of the end since 1844, “the time of the end” has gotten closer and closer to the end of time. Technology has put the world world in places that our founding parents and their generation never dreamed possible. The changes in time and technology have put the Adventist Church in a place where it can better communicate its message to the world in a more effective manner: satellites and the NET Campaigns for evangelism with Mark Finley, Doug Bachelor, and Dwight Nelson, DVDs and ASI for youth evangelism programs, dual sliding-door minivans for effective mobilization to spread the gospel through the printed page in the work of Literature Evangelism Student Summer Scholarship Programs, and more.
However these major changes have also brought with them some serious challenges and dilemmas. It is in our technological generation of constant change that the youth seem to lose hold on the unchanging truths that they were brought up with and raised on. And it seems that in our efforts and struggles to stay afloat and keep our youth in the church, our church is drowning — losing its youth while offering innovative styles of evangelism and worship that are sometimes unbiblical and ineffective.
And so we choose as our theme this year: PENTECOST: He Will Do It Again. It is an answer to the cry of our church to reach out to, to mentor, and to keep our youth in the precious message of Adventism. It is a stand. A stand against all the useless and needless feeble gospel gimmick attempts to entertain the youth in our church under the banner of OUTREACH or WORSHIP. It is a statement showing that through God’s power, young people — converted young people, by taking hold of God’s hand of pentecostal power, can reach our own and flip this world upside down in our generation! And it is a call. A call to our leaders, a call to our church, and a call to our youth that says “now is the time for God’s people to show themselves true to principle” for God will work in and for us AGAIN! He will pour out His spirit upon us in a manner heretorfore not witnessed since apostolic times. He will do it again!
The sad news is that in a sincere effort to reach our youth, many of our messages have been watered down, our standards lowered, and our outcomes discouraging. The good news is that today, there exists an army of dedicated youth who yearn to show leadership like the wise and godly Nehemiah, integrity like the steadfast and unmoving Daniel, the vision for evangelism like the powerful and passionate Paul, and the love for souls of our Savior towards young people and adults alike. For we are that army of young people on a mission to proclaim the three angels’ message to the entire world in our generation. Welcome to the General Youth Conference.
This opening address was given by Israel Ramos to 400 young people on the opening night of the first GYC which was held in Pine Springs Ranch on December 18, 2002. He delivered five opening addresses before the president took over the tradition of delivering the keynote message on opening night.