4 August 2013 Novi Sad, Serbia [Yvonne Bauwens, tedNEWS] Soon the arena will be silent and only the echoes of 4,000 young people’s laughter will ring down the corridors. Voices fade, tears are wiped dry and the vivacious participants of this incredible, thought-provoking and inspiring Pan-European Youth Congress here in Novi Sad are beginning their journeys home. Our closing thoughts came from the mouth of Pastor Gilbert Cangy, Adventist World Youth Director. Through a touching account of the passing of his father, Pastor Gilbert emphasised just how important last words can be. Pastor Gilbert wanted to know if his father thought of his son in the old man’s last moments, but he could never find out.
As a missionary volunteer to India in 2012, I hoped my words shared with my students would have inspired and had a lasting impression on them. The truth is, I might never know what impression I had, and although I hoped I could inspire them, my actions probably had more of an influence.
Jesus however, as He walked to the Cross, had you and me on His mind.John 17:20 captures Christ’s final prayer that we might exhibit the Power of One in the world, that we might be brought to complete unity. If there is no Power of One amongst God’s people, the world will have no witness for the Power of His Gospel. On the day of Pentecost, we read about the first of many examples of this prayer coming true. All through the centuries, we are fulfilling this prophecy and it doesn't end here.
Entering the arena for the last time, the young people were given a glow stick and asked to save its glow for a special part of the service. Our voices once again uplifted the name of Jesus in song. Correction: in complete and absolute celebration, we praised God! Although the intense heat in the room soared, hairs on the back of my neck still stood on end as I joined the mass choir singing for the last time the theme song written by talented musicians, Serbian Tihomir Lazić and Estonian Kärt Vahtramäe. We stood united. We stood as one, praising the power of the only one God we worship!
Having been brought up in the Seventh-day Adventist church, I often wonder what such events must look like to a non-Christian, but yesterday’s services included an extra 1,000 day visitors, as well as over 1,500 live online viewers and when standing as one in the choir with friends from all over this world, I was proud to be a member of an amazing family!
Our youth leaders from each Union took to the stage, snapping their red glow sticks and the nations from each Union’s yellow sticks then glowed and were waved as a response to continue shining our lights for Christ, to continue making Christ’s final prayer a reality in our lives. ‘Don’t lose the dream! God puts a fire in your heart. Don’t let anyone put your fire out!’ encouraged Pastor Gilbert.
His closing words of challenge were for our young people to stay close to Jesus, taking the words of Luke 6:12 as their motto. Start your day with Jesus. Take time for Jesus. Pray.
One of my favourite quotes is:
‘A whole lot of kneeling keeps you in good standing.’
In an interview with Pastors Paul Tompkins and Stephan Sigg, Youth Directors of the Trans-European and Inter-European Divisions respectively, who were the organisers of this Congress, they shared their closing remarks with me for our young people to take back to the many countries they represented here in Novi Sad:
Stefan, referring to a sermon from this fantastic week: ‘The Christian walk is to be understood as a walk.’ He encourages our young people to continue that walk with Jesus, to be motivated to share this good news of Jesus with others in the many various ways and talents we have been blessed with! ‘If this Congress has been the motivation for the participants to either find Christ or to continue in this mission, I think it has achieved its main goal.’
Paul concluded: I think the Congress has been very intentional in the way it has developed. The theme of ‘The Power of One’ has been to encourage everyone in their various stages of faith. Each day has been built on an element of this theme, and each day has flowed from the previous.’
The circular centre stage represents the cross being at the centre of our lives as we stand united. The power of the theme song has been a particular highlight for Paul: ‘The words are strong and the music brings you to a crescendo. I think that will live with young people. I see happy young people. The baptism, impact day - a whole day of reaching out to the community – are just a few examples of how this Congress will leave a profound lasting impression on the lives of our young people as they return to their home churches and continue shining their lights for Christ.’
May God bless you and keep you strong. We stand united in His love. Looking forward to seeing you at the next Congress in 2017, in the beautiful land of Spain!
Adventist Youth Congress 2013 may have finished, but it still has a lot offer. Please visit our website to see videos, photos and the other material from the Congress. [tedNEWS]