Young Adults Participate in
Florida Outreach Effort
“Youth for Jesus” gives experience before ASI convention
BY CONNA BOND, ASI communication director
eventh-day Adventist evangelistic outreach in Orlando, Florida, not only preceded the 2010 Adventist-
laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI) convention, but also helped trained young people in the methods and means of evangelism.
The program, called “Youth for Jesus” (YFJ), is a complement to the annual ASI gatherings. Its core audience is comprised of 15-year-olds to twentysomethings, with the majority of them teenagers. This year’s cohort of 25 girls and 17 boys converged on Florida from 21 states and three countries, including Hungary and Portugal.
This year the program’s leadership has changed: Leasa Hodges, program director since YFJ began more than a decade ago, moved on to work with Eden Valley Institute in Loveland, Colorado, and Scott Moore, director of LIFE (Lay Institute for Evangelism), stepped in. The LIFE team includes Phillip Sizemore, associate director and outreach coordinator, and Eleida Feliciano, assistant administrator.
LIFE has its headquarters at the Lady Lake Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lady Lake, Florida. Generally, LIFE offers two-, three-, and sixteen-week evangelism training programs to students 18 and over. The two-week program covers how to give Bible studies straight from the Bible without notes. The three-week course adds ways to implement evangelistic efforts in local churches. The sixteen-week course covers a broad range of topics, including law and grace, health evangelism, scriptural origins, Daniel and Revelation, the Spirit of Prophecy, reaching different denominations, and basic hermeneutics.
SERMON PREP: Seth Dixon, 20, from Boone, North Carolina, studies his sermon notes in preparation for an evening meeting in Florida as part of the Youth for Jesus campaign.
YFJ students generally spend four to five weeks doing evangelism in the city where the convention occurs, requiring leaders to plan temporary student housing and food. LIFE has housing on-site, and uses the church building next door for training and meals.
“We simply adapted our five-week summer course to accommodate the YFJ program,” says Moore.
The students attend worship and classes in the morning, followed by lunch and chores, then head out in groups to do door-to-door surveys to identify people who may be interested in Bible studies or other outreach programs. After a quick sack meal, they head to local churches to present a series of evangelistic meetings. This year they’re holding meetings in Ocala, Leesburg, Umatilla, and Plymouth-Sorrento churches. It’s a full day of work and the summers are hot, but few complain. Many YFJ students return year after year.
Other than the two days a week when they get to rest, play, explore, and catch up on laundry, the YFJ students are responsible for all of the outreach efforts. Some of the older, more experienced students are chosen as Bible workers and speakers. Others trade roles as greeters, materials organizers, and children’s program leaders, among other tasks.
Seth Dixon, a 20-year-old from Boone, North Carolina, is one of five speakers this year. Early this summer Dixon was having his devotions when Moore called, inviting him to be a YFJ speaker.
Dixon’s first thought was, No way, I’m not preaching! But then he got the distinct impression that the Holy Spirit was saying, That’s Me asking you to go. That’s where I want you this summer.
“I’m not a great speaker,” says Dixon, “but I am willing to be led by God.”
LIFE and YFJ actually share a history. LIFE came into existence through a generous gift to ASI from Adventist businessman Larry Sharley. After watching a YFJ baptism service on television, he was impressed to support evangelism training for young people. ASI used the gifted funds to establish LIFE under ASI Missions, Inc. Most recently, ASI funded a new kitchen for the project.