Two years ago, the Youth Department of the Inter-European Division of Seventh-day Adventists started planning and dreaming the International AMiCUS Congress for 2020. The topic chosen was #realyou: Being a follower in the 21st Century, based on the responses of 292 young people and students from different countries in Europe.
The event would take place after a 6-year hiatus. However, plans were disrupted as COVID-19 hit Europe too. As a result of the existing travelling and social distancing restrictions, it was no longer feasible to have a physical, “live” congress. Yet, the organizers felt it was important to take this as an opportunity to make the most of technology and go forward.
On 25 September 2020, the first #realyou online session was held, as a spin-off of the congress theme #realyou. Two young students from Prague, Lucie and Martin Pavlik, were the event hosts. The topic was #realnewnormal and the speaker, Tihomir Lazic, Public Campus Ministries Director of the Trans-European Division of Seventh-day Adventists, with a PhD in Oxford. Lazic challenged participants to question their own identity and purpose, within and without the church, whilst pointing to the necessary action of the Holy Spirit in this endeavor. In his words, “Our role is to write an unwritten chapter of the book of Acts—chapter 29, verse 21 (in the 21st century)—that will witness to the mighty works of the Spirit in the new normal.”
The second #realyou online session then took place on 26 September 2020. This time the topic was #realfuture, presented by none other than Ty Gibson (@tyfgibson), speaker, co-director of Light Bearers (https://lightbearers.org) and pastor of Storyline Church (https://storyline.church). Gibson focused on the key principle of God’s kingdom, namely love, and how that should be our distinguishing mark, clearly expressed in our actions, because “real-love is other centered-action.”
Both sessions also included inspiring #realstories.
The first guest was Sayei Méndez (Spain), creator of @escribiendosupalabra, an online lettering ministry. She reminded us how God can lead us through unexpected paths when we simply make ourselves available. What started as a hobby to release stress has turned into a life-giving ministry with more than 7,800 followers on Instagram. There, Méndez shares Bible reflections alongside her beautiful art.
The second guest was Iunia Floricel (Romania). In her case, she has been actively supporting AMiCUS Romania in various roles, such as public relations and event planning for the past couple of years. AMiCUS Romania currently has 15 student chapters in the country’s university cities, with more than 1,000 active students. Floricel shared how being involved in AMiCUS helped her grow not only spiritually, but also socially and emotionally, and invited all students to get involved locally.
The live YouTube sessions were followed by an innovative and interactive experience: Response groups. Response groups gave the participants the choice to respond to and process the message with their talents. In the arts response group, participants responded to the message creatively, by producing a work of art. In the conversation response groups, participants were invited to engage in deep and honest conversation. In the lettering response group, participants focused on a key Bible text to do their lettering. In the personal devotion response group, participants were guided in prayer and quiet reflection.
Each of the live sessions engaged over 250 participants, who came from different countries (Spain, Romania, Italy, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Netherlands, USA, Mexico, UK, Portugal, Bulgaria, Austria, Finland, Belgium, Greece, Estonia, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Norway). Both sessions together now have more than 3,000 views on YouTube.
The event has been positively received, as can be seen from a few of the participants’ testimonials below:
“The opportunity to meet other young people and share ideas with them was amazing.”
“I liked to be with so many people, from different countries and to learn more about these topics. Really good.”
“[I really appreciated] the opportunity to know new people thanks to the response groups, especially, the Conversation one. I think we could do this every week: just a zoom meeting with smaller groups where we can talk about Jesus and know each other. These times are really hard to know Adventist youth, so it would be a blessing for all of us to be able to share our faith with people around Europe. Seriously, we need this. Thank you for making it possible and, please, keep doing it!”
And this is just the beginning. Three more online sessions have already been set: 11 December 2020, 12 March 2021 and 11 June 2021. The physical, live International AMiCUS Congress will finally take place on 23-26 September 2021, in Lignano Sabbiadoro (Italy).
More information can be found on the event website: https://www.realyouamicus.org/
Watch any of the recorded sessions here:
#realnewnormal with Tihomir Lazic: https://bit.ly/realyouFriday25
#realfuture with Ty Gibson: https://bit.ly/realyouSaturday
For those wondering what AMiCUS is, AMiCUS is a place to:
CONNECT. We endeavour to connect students with their fellow human beings, their church and their community.
THINK. We encourage students to dare to ask questions and to think for themselves.
ENCOUNTER JESUS. We aim to help students connect with Jesus and grow in a closer relationship with Him.
BE. We seek to aid students become the best human being they can be.
ACT. We call students to be proactive in making a positive impact on people's lives and in their community, and in discovering their sense of mission.
The original article was published here.