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Wilson Urges Global Youth Congress
Delegates to Take Jesus to the Cities
esus is in the city—through you!”
With these words of compelling challenge, Seventh-day Adventist world church president Elder Ted Wilson laid down the gauntlet that Adventist youth must run if they will fulfill their God given mission to the cities of the world. Addressing delegates at Impact South Africa 2013 from 100 different countries, gathered in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, July 11, Elder Wilson openly prayed for divine wisdom to transfer his own heart burden for billions of people lost in the world’s cities to the hearts of his 3200 hearers.
“The city has a way of influencing you,” Elder Wilson warned, particularly through the fascinations of organized sports, sophisticated culture, or pulsating music. He recalled how, as a youth, the successes or failures of his favorite football team could make or break his spirit every weekend, until he simply gave up his focus on a thing so absorbing and yet so transient. “Don’t forget what you are doing in the city. You are turning people back to the truth.” And in a memorable application of Romans 12:2 he instructed, “Don’t let the world or the city squeeze you into its mold.”
Wilson’s was the third of the morning’s powerful addresses, following a moving devotional by North American Division Youth Ministries Director James Black, and an inspiring plenary by Litiana Turner, associate director of South Pacific Division Youth Ministries. “What do you want me to talk about?” Black had asked, when Elder Gilbert Cangy, General Conference Youth Ministries Director, first tasked him with the morning devotion on “Dawn in the City.”
“I want you to take us to Jesus,” Cangy said. So he did. We saw Jesus in the city, and we saw His reason for being there. We saw Jesus on the cross when Black spoke, and now we know what we need to be so light can dawn in the city.
Turner based her appeal on the title “Return to Me My Beloved,” and declared, “W are more easily drawn to God when we remember that we are His beloved.” Instead of complaining about tiresome waiting in long lines, or the difficulties of a demanding congress schedule, or some issue about food, Adventist youth should remember that life is all about a loving God whose blessings to His own will always outweigh the frustrations of our sojourn on a sin cursed earth. Life for the optimistic, mission-focused Adventist youth is life that exchanges the despair, brokenness, and hate of the city and the world for hope, encouragement and love. And through the inspiration of the divisions’ reports and a score of exhibits—everything from the path-breaking Center for Youth Evangelism to pioneering Adventist Frontier Missions—we are seeing that it is being done.
Through the excellent instruction of congress workshops—on everything from church planting to how to win Millenials—we are learning how it can be done even better and more effectively. Because, as Wilson put it so well: “Jesus is in the city through you.”
* Link to learn more about the city, born May 2011, that includes Pretoria, at http://www.tshwane.gov.za
Lael Caesar is an associate editor of the Adventist Review. (Posted July 12, 2013)