New gadgets, games, and tools are explored in the exhibit hall. | Photos by Samuel Girven
Gem Castor, Generation. Youth. Christ. (GYC)’s longtime prayer coordinator, was on the large platform at the front of the event hall, asking that everyone join him as they consecrated the beginning of the event. I was ready, for "Nothing," the theme of the conference, based on Revelation 3:17 and the Church of Laodicea.
My experience mirrors what 1,600 youth and young adults experienced as they arrived at the busy center of Houston. “It’s hectic,” one woman at the registration center explained to me. “But it’s worth it.” Everyone mirrored this sentiment.
On the first day, everyone settles into their hotel rooms. Hopefully, everyone has gotten a fair amount of sleep. Then, people trickle down to the early morning prayer session and into the breakfast line. Before long, a massive procession of people is formed in the main, wide hallway on the first floor, waiting for the first meal. Breakfast consisted of several delicious-smelling courses, either carried out or eaten at tables, like in a cafeteria dining hall.
Soon afterward, we began the first meeting of the day. It was shorter than the rest of the meetings, but it was just as important if not one of the most important meetings of the day. These morning devotional sessions are engaging and easy to understand. Callie Buruchara, the speaker for these meetings, was able to break down often overlooked, sometimes complex Biblical stories and anecdotes into powerful, meaningful words of health and hope.
Soon though, this meeting concluded. Another meeting began, this time with a more intellectual focus. The focus of this year’s convention, Nothing, has a study of peculiar interest: the church of Laodicea, found in Revelation 3. The Church of Laodicea is rich, wealthy, and has become spiritually lukewarm—neither cold nor hot. Elder Justin Kim, editor of Collegiate Quarterly and assistant director for the Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department at the General Conference, starts this study in the main event hall, guiding them through the focus of the small group discussions everyone will soon be participating in. Those in attendance go into breakout rooms where they discuss questions such as, “How does the counsel to Laodicea solve the church’s problems?”
The rest of the day flew by. Lunch was followed by the first part of a riveting testimony given by Indonesian missionary couple Ramon and Shandy Tengkano, literally the opposite of a “Rags to Riches” story. Following this, the exhibit hall opened. Ministries from all over North America and even abroad engage in outreach among their own, hoping to spread awareness and gather support.
After dinner, everyone reconvened once again for the concluding meetings of the day. First, Elder Kim took the pulpit, delivering his final thoughts on the study session earlier. Then, after a brief break, the evening plenary began. The hall was soon almost filled. Evangelist Sebastien Braxton continued his series of messages, giving the final charge of the day. “We can’t come to Jesus and demand great things and go home and be average…we have to be unreserved. Everything on the altar. Because to buy this faith, it’s going to take everything you have. That’s the only way.”
Samuel Girven, assistant Communications secretary for Cadillac Seventh-day Adventist Church