In 2002, a group of young college students knelt on a living room floor to ask God’s guidance as they planned the first-ever GYC conference. Little did they imagine it would become the largest grassroots youth-movement within Adventism. From Pine Springs Ranch, California, where it all began, to the largest GYC ever in Houston, Texas, in 2011–whether you’re familiar with GYC or not, take a few minutes to read through these accounts from past conferences; you’ll be glad you did.
Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. – Isaiah 60:1-3
As in the days of the prophet Isaiah, the world today is enshrouded in sin and darkness. Isaiah was given a glorious vision of God shining through His victorious people, piercing that thick darkness at the end of time. The prophecy is clear: We are called for more than simply wandering through life! God has challenged us to take hold of our identity in Him. He commands us to arise, shine, for our light has come! Because His glory – His love, truth, and righteousness – has risen upon us, we are revived and empowered to reflect it to the world.
“Remember your Creator in your youth. When all has been heard, Fear God, keep His commandments, for judgment will take place.” -Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13, 14
These warnings touch on questions of eternal significance, such as judgment and salvation; questions that have often left people without answers. GYC 2016 focused on how justice and mercy meet, how God’s righteousness is displayed, and how a saving relationship with Jesus impacts our view of the judgment.
“These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with Him are called and chosen and faithful.” -Revelation 17:14
The calling of the remnant woven through the Bible culminates in the book of Revelation. Here the story of the people of God ends in triumph. It is here the record of their trials and characters is completed. These are the called. These are they who have stood with Him through the last battle. Many are called to stand, but few are chosen. The chosen ones have received their duty from the Master. They have accepted the Lamb’s calling to stand with Him. They are faithful to His Word and shine with the light of His character.
"Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed." -1 Peter 2:24
For GYC 2014, the focus was on what Christ did for us at the cross. Each message directed attendees back to the reason for their faith, along with the motivation to live and share it with the world.
“For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.” – 1 Corinthians 4:9
Exploring the metanarrative of the great controversy, attendees at GYC’s 2013 conference came to a deeper understanding of the cosmic conflict between God and Satan, and its implications in the daily lives of humanity. In conjunction with the study of the theme, participants took the book The Great Controversy door-to-door, sharing thousands of copies with people across Orlando.
“But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, ‘These who have turned the world upside down have come here too…’” – Acts 17:6
Thousands of young people flooded the city of Seattle where we were challenged to live unordinary lives, modeled after the apostolic church, and to continue that revolution started so long ago and “turn the world upside down.”
“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” – Acts 4:31; Acts 2
The focus of this year’s entire conference was the Holy Spirit—from His person in theology to His work in humanity. More than 7,000 young people gathered in Houston, Texas, under one roof, with one purpose: to listen, learn, and pray. And our prayer was simple—”fill me.”
“And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house. But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:61-62
In 2006, we filled 29 buses with people for outreach and knocked on about 9,000 doors. Four years later, GYC was back in Baltimore. But this time we had more than 3,000 people filling 72 buses. In two hours they knocked on nearly 40,000 doors distributing more than 70,000 pieces of literature “like the leaves of autumn.”
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” – Romans 1:16
The GYC 2009 conference, themed “Unashamed”, was based on the verse in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” To be unashamed of the gospel is to proudly proclaim it wherever you are. Paul let nothing hinder him from spreading the truths of God’s word, and today we also want to preach the good news in whatever we do. This conference will be looking at how one can live evangelistically, even if he or she is not an “evangelist.” Among many attendees, this year was one of the best conferences since its beginning, with challenges to be the most unashamed for Christ in the year 2010 and beyond. With up to 4700 attendees on Sabbath, the Louisville area was blessed by these young people who excitedly worked to produce a successful outreach day on Friday and a health expo for the community on Sunday. Many godly young people made important commitments at this conference for mission work, church leadership, and evangelism. The Holy Spirit truly blessed this conference.
“To make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and the things which you have not seen.” – Acts 26:16
GYC 2008 was held in San Jose, California on the dates of December 17-21, 2008. Hosting its seventh annual conference, GYC’s theme this year was “For This Purpose.” How do we find this purpose? By listening to, and studying God’s Word. Interesting speakers such as Justin Kim, Randy Skeete, Radim Passer, Chelsy Jourdan, Alistair Huong, Shawn Boonstra, and others, lead us in studying how we can reflect Christ’s character. This conference was life-changing! Attendees discovered themselves thinking and planning differently– truly finding purpose in life.
“Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2
Although a low turn-out was anticipated because of scheduling problems with the convention center and because the meeting coincided with examination week for many students, over 2,900 young people packed into the Minneapolis convention center, listening to a call to BE God’s people at the end of time. Thousands responded, braving the freezing cold of Minneapolis, to knock on thousands of doors sharing the warm love of Jesus Christ. GYC 2007 was held at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minnesota from December 19-23, 2007. The theme, “Be”, succinctly expressed the desire to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”(Romans 12:2.) GYC 2007 attendees learned to go beyond theory and sermonizing into the beautiful reality of a life tangibly imprinted with the character of Christ through seminars, plenary sessions, meeting new friends, and networking with ministries from all over the world.
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4
General Youth Conference 2006 took place in Baltimore, MD from December 27-31, 2006. Around 2,600 people registered for the conference and 4,000 people attended the Sabbath morning events. Young adults were infused with a desire to wholeheartedly embrace a life of total surrender to Biblical principle. Hundreds of doors were knocked on in preparation for an evangelistic series after GYC. Attendees could pick from 17 seminar tracks all running simultaneously. Topics included “iPods, American Idol, and the Bible,” “Living Like Jesus,” “A Voice Behind You,” and “Happily Ever After.” On Sabbath afternoon, the attendees took part in a massive outreach opportunity where they knocked on 8,950 doors, prayed with 894 people, distributed 7,538 Bible study cards, and signed up 719 people for Bible studies. These Bible study interests will be followed up and invited to an evangelistic series by GYC in the Baltimore area.
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” – Romans 13:11
From Dec. 28, 2005, to Jan. 1, 2006, over 2,600 young people gathered at Chattanooga’s convention center in Chattanooga, TN for the fourth annual General Youth Conference. The majority of young people were from the United States. However, a growing number of attendees came from international countries such as England, Iceland, South Africa, Sudan, the Philippines, and other countries. The theme for GYC 2005 was “Now is the Time” based on Romans 13:11, “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to wake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed.” Speakers for the main plenary sessions included David Gates, missionary to South America; C.D. Brooks, former speaker for Breath of Life television program; John Nixon, senior pastor of Oakwood College church; Cindy Tutsch, from the Ellen G. White Estate; and Michael Hasel, religion professor from Southern Adventist University. 2005’s seminar topics included “Urban Evangelism”, “Revelation”, “Last Day Deceptions,” and many more. Besides attending seminars and hearing sermons, attendees partnered with Mark and Ernestine Finley, who will be holding an evangelistic series in the Chattanooga area later in 2006, to facilitate a massive unprecedented outreach effort on Sabbath, Dec. 31. Hundreds of young people loaded onto 27 busses and as a result of this outreach knocked on 9,117 doors and gave surveys, producing over 1,200 Bible study interests. Young people who attended this conference were able to make specific decisions and answered God’s call to their hearts in various ways. The 3,600+ young people in attendance at GYC 2005 were impressed with the nearness of Christ’s return and encouraged to prepare their own hearts and lives for His return. Over 1,200+ Bible study interests were followed up by lay Bible workers in preparation for an evangelistic series held in the Chattanooga area by Mark Finley.
“I have set you as a light … that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 13:47
Sacramento, California was the home of GYC 2004, which attracted 1200 registered attendees and swelled to 1600 attendees on Sabbath! Young people came from as far away as Canada, Mexico, Iceland, Norway, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Africa, Austria, and the United Kingdom. Their focus was all the same – to learn how they can carry the light of truth into every place where the darkness of sin and error resides. This year’s conference had a special emphasis on evangelism. On Sabbath afternoon Amazing Facts led us in a city-wide outreach where GYC youth knocked on the doors of more than 5,000 homes, prayed with nearly 300 people, and enrolled 800 in Bible studies! The last morning of the conference, David Asscherick made a specific appeal for youth willing to carry the gospel message to the over 5,000 unreached people groups in the world by giving six to eight years of their life as a career missionary. Over 200 youth responded. Witnessing and evangelism as a way of life was emphasized to the 1,800+ attendees of GYC 2004. This was pragmatically implemented when over 600 young people knocked on 5,000+ doors and enrolled over 800 people in Bible studies.
…I will make you an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. – Isaiah 60:15
Over 800 young people gathered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the second annual conference, December 17-21. They came from across North America and several other countries: South Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong, Philippines, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, and Canada. They were an army of young people training for service. We were inspired to reach "Higher than the Highest" in our academic, spiritual, and professional lives. It challenged us to give God our best and to surrender our lives completely to Him. It called us to share the distinctive message of Adventism with the world. It changed our lives forever.
He shall come unto us as the rain…there shall be showers of blessing. – Hosea 6:3; Eze. 34:26
Our first conference was held at Pine Springs Ranch in Southeastern California. Expecting only 250 attendees, we were surprised when we had to close registration at 425. The excitement was contagious. These youth saw themselves as the army who would take the Three Angels’ Messages to the world. With an emphasis on spiritual revival, the theme reminded young people that God can and will repeat the miracles He has performed in the past.