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Global Youth Day - An Interview

Global Youth Day - An Interview

The Global-Youth-Day Logo

Bern, Switzerland [CD EUDNews]. About eight million Adventist youths mobilized on the streets of our villages, towns, and cities around the world to be the hands and feet of Jesus through acts of kindness. A simple, global, and relevant strategy has been

April 09, 2014 | CD EUDNews;

Bern, Switzerland [CD EUDNews]. About eight million Adventist youths mobilized on the streets of our villages, towns, and cities around the world to be the hands and feet of Jesus through acts of kindness. A simple, global, and relevant strategy has been devised.

This year’s Global Youth Day was an event that sent hundreds of thousands of Seventh-day Adventist youth and young adults out of church for service projects in neighborhoods and communities worldwide.

The March 15 event was also broadcast on the Internet live, highlighting projects from 20 sites. This year’s event had nearly three times the live online participation from last year, with more than 27,000 media publications on the event’s website and Facebook page.

We had a conversation on that with Stephan Sigg, Youth Ministries Director in the Inter-European Division of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church:

Stephan, what were your personal highlights of Global Youth Day?

The great thing about GYD is the fact that it is a global collection of highlights. It brings together all the great experiences Adventist youth have with the people they serve and with Jesus whom they follow. One highlight for me was the fact that GYD mobilized Adventist youth around the globe to serve others and thereby feel connected with a multitude of young people in our world wide church. The sense of connectedness that GYD promotes is just amazing.

As one of the broadcast co-producers, another highlight was to experience the cooperation among the Youth Ministries Department, the Communication Department and the Hope Channel. The impact of the GYD is only made possible because of the social media and the broadcast opportunities we have today. I think that through the GYD we as a church can learn not only to use these media opportunities for the proclamation of the Gospel but also to strengthen the cohesion and the sense of togetherness in our culturally-rich and diverse global Adventist movement.

Besides the many activities and the lasting impact that young people made through God’s grace in the lives of others, GYD brings the SDA youth closer together even though they are spread out throughout the globe. The dream of the Power of ONE that we promote at Youth Ministries was well accepted! Service activities are worthy in themselves whether or not they are seen by others and whenever they are done. Through GYD we can see that God’s Spirit is moving young people around the globe to be the "hands and feet of Jesus" and that has inspired everyone involved.

How well has this initiative been accepted by young people in the EUD?

Our first GYD in 2013 was recognized and accepted by just a few EUD Unions but the number grew this year. Because of the experiences and the lasting impression left on young people, we are still far from having reached the peak of involvement. I am sure that in 2015 we will have even more youth and Unions involved from our Division. The EUD has many youth outreach programs and service activities on a regular basis, but the GYD puts these activities in such a huge global perspective and that is very appealing and motivating especially for the youth in our rather small European church congregations. I am sure that Global Youth Day in Europe will grow in attendance and in making an impact in our churches in the coming years.

Do you have a favourite story or project from Global Youth Day?

It is very difficult to pick out just one activity or story. To see young people creatively sharing the Good News and being involved in so many different ways, showing kindness to people on the streets, in hospitals or in old peoples' homes whether it was in Germany, France, Romania, Bulgaria, Spain or Portugal was just amazing! We could only get a glimpse of what happened and what the youth experienced. God was moving and that was obvious. That’s my favorite story, that we have a God that moves young people to expand his kingdom. Of course, it was very special to get live reports from young people in Egypt and Dubai during our broadcast. Adventists young people and adults went on the streets of Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt to share the message with health-expo and the many activities involved. In Dubai, the United Arabic Emirates, youth were serving people in various ways by sharing food or visiting people in hospitals. It was amazing to see how these young people were able to share the Christian message and their personal experience in such a challenging context. Being sensitive to the Islam religion, they printed special GYD-T-shirts with a modified Logo where the cross (being such a strong Christian symbol) was removed. These youth did not need the cross on a T-shirt, they were marked by the cross in their hearts and that is what they shared with people.

How and why did Global Youth Day grow in its second year?

Firstly, Global Youth Day 2014 grew because we learned from the preceding year. In 2013 we were basically working with the “early adopters”, these are the kind of people that jump in when they see a good idea and a vision. GYD provided the experience and others joined in this year since it was such a success. We can now start advertising earlier and promote GYD more successfully. Youth Ministries Departments activities are usually based on long-term planning but last year everything happened on such short notice. For the GYD 2014 we also expanded our social media options by creating a GYD-App that helped young people easily upload pictures and clips. However, we also learned that we now created two different communication avenues, one through Facebook and one through the App for the GYD-Website.

Secondly, Global Youth Day 2014 grew simply by word-of-mouth. Young people that were involved last year, shared the excitement and this year more youth groups wanted to be involved and planned their service activities accordingly.

Thirdly, the message of the Global Youth Day is convincing. Many young people are ready to embrace the idea of "being the sermon“ and take the faith in Jesus as a calling to be actively and positively involved in the lives of others. They understand that as ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20) it's not only the message that counts but also the messenger.

Fourthly, Global Youth Day grew because it simply provides an extraordinary global church experience. It fosters the sense of belonging to a worldwide Adventist movement and a church that is alive, dynamic and active in the world and people's lives.

Furthermore, Global Youth Day grew because our departments work together. The cooperation among the Youth Ministries Department, the Communication Department and the Media creates a dynamic synergy and has opened new ways to live and experience the principle of acting locally and thinking globally.

Why is service so important to young people and church life?

Service is important because it is an expression of the life God intended. God did not create humans to just care for themselves but put man and woman in relation to Him and others. Serving people is a way to restore the basic meaning of life and I think young people somehow sense that. Young people like to see that our faith in God somehow makes a difference in this world and they want to be part of it. Service also puts our faith in perspective. What really matters is not so much "doing church“ and organizing spiritual programs but how we live, love and relate to others. Youth are looking for authentic and living expressions of faith and are excited about a God who became flesh and lived among us to serve, forgive, restore, reconcile, embrace and save. The “free hug”, one of the popular GYD activities, is a spiritual reality in Jesus as He made it very clear: serving Him means serving others.

pictures: 1, 2, 3, 4, The Global Youth Day broadcasted from Stimme der Hoffnung; 5. Stephan Sigg, Youth Ministries Director in the Inter-European Division; (credits: Corrado Cozzi)

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