GYC Europe conference opens in Latvia with a call to live as a peculiar people.
Published on: 08-11-2023
More than 700 Seventh-day Adventist young people from 43 countries in Europe and beyond are meeting in Riga, Latvia, for the 2023 Generation. Youth. Christ. (GYC) Europe Conference. The August 9-13 event, which includes plenaries, breakout sessions, and outreach activities, is taking place under the theme, “A Chosen Generation.”
“It is an amazing title and a challenge for all of us. Will we stand up and become that chosen generation?” Frederick, from Sweden and one of the hosts, asked as he welcomed participants to the 2023 conference.
Emma, a Romanian currently living in Belgium and the other host for 2023, agreed. “We can only look forward to what God will do in each of our lives during these days together,” she said. In her subsequent prayer, she prayed that the 2023 conference would not be just another event. “We pray this is a life-transforming event,” she said. “We know we are not here by chance.”
GYC Europe president Naison (a constant for GYC Europe members is to use only their first names) reflected on what it means to be part of a chosen generation. “Usually when we choose something, we have a [set of] criteria of what good looks like,” Naison, who was born in Zimbabwe and lives in England, said.
First, he added, “to be chosen means not to be rejected. Jesus knew what it was to be rejected, because he didn’t meet the criteria of what a messiah should look like.… Jesus experienced rejection and crucifixion so you and I can have the privilege and the opportunity of knowing what it means to be accepted.” In that regard, Naison reminded GYC Europe members, “we are chosen to be forgiven; we are chosen to be loved; we are chosen to be enlightened by the power of the gospel.”
But that’s not all, Naison emphasized. “The gospel and the blood of Jesus that purchased our salvation does not only redeem us but also restores us,” he said. “So, as we see Jesus working through His power in our lives, we have the joy, the privilege, and the desire to share to make Him known to others.… That’s what this conference is all about: to share Christ in a deeper level than we have done before and be emboldened and encouraged to share Him with more people than we have done before.”
Workshop Sessions and Outreach
Event participants can choose from dozens of workshop sessions on a variety of topics. Some are based on personal testimonies and ideas for ministry, while others cover theological, relationship, and health topics. GYC members can also opt to register for private counseling sessions with two mental health professionals.
Outreach activities include using an image of the Daniel chapter 2 prophecy to engage in conversation with people, and surveying people in the Riga community to find out in which ways a local Adventist church could help them to meet a need. Another survey will explore people’s views on the importance of freedom of speech, belief, and conscience.
With the support of the Latvian Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, GYC members will also distribute copies of Ellen G. White’s books The Great Controversy and Steps to Christ. Three groups will engage in singing at the Riga Marketplace, a shopping mall, and outside one of the Adventist church buildings in the city. Still other members will divide into small groups to visit designated places across Riga for a prayer walk, organizers reported.
“We are excited to present a variety of engaging outreach activities designed to help us experience reaching out to the local community, foster connection, and inspire reflection,” they said.
Being Distinctive to Share Jesus
In the opening keynote address, Craig Gooden, director of the PEACE Centre of Evangelism in the North England Conference of the Adventist Church, called GYC Europe members to “make a decision so God can use us in a way we have never imagined before.” To do that, he said, everyone needs to understand what it means to be distinctive for God.
“God has breathed the breath of life in our nostrils, and He’s placed value in all of you to be a chosen generation,” Gooden said. “All are called, few are chosen, but I believe all of you who are here have the potential to be chosen.”
Gooden called GYC members to reflect on the reason for attending a conference like this one. There might be many reasons, but “all of us are here because we want to be part of a chosen generation,” he said. In that regard, he added, “our value is related to whom we are connected with. And each one of you is valuable, a peculiar treasure to God.”
The value that God has given us should prompt us to share Jesus more, Gooden said. “We are cleansed by the Word of God, so we can go and do something called ministry,” he explained. “Every one of you can be a minister for Christ. You all have something to do! You can leave here, the 700 hundred of you, and start 700 ministries! If you have placed something in your heart to share with the world, go and do it! If God said you are a peculiar treasure, be a peculiar treasure!”
Generation. Youth. Christ. (GYC) is a youth-led organization that supports the spiritual mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but is an independent supporting ministry not controlled by or legally affiliated with the church.