By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – Organizers and participants of the 2023 Youth Evangelism Celebration praised God for the hundreds of students who made decisions for Christ, Nov. 19-20, at the Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria. They also were grateful to Him for the estimated 5,100 teens who attended YEC (the largest annual gathering of Louisiana Baptists).
“I would just say that Brandon Lewis, Julie Mitcham and an army of volunteers helped us pull this event off,” Louisiana Baptist Youth Strategist Lee Myers told the Baptist Message. “We could not make it happen without their hard work and commitment to youth ministry in the state of Louisiana. Our goal each year is to create an event that students can connect with, hear the Gospel proclaimed, have the opportunity to respond and also come together as a family of believers.
SHINE YOUR LIGHT
YEC challenged the Louisiana Baptist youth to share their stories of how Christ changed their lives through messages by Daryl Jones, founder of Point Ministries in Miami, Fla.
In his messages, Jones encouraged students to be shining lights of Christ to a dark world.
Basing his message on Matthew 5:14-16, Jones told the students Christ has placed them in strategic places to be used by Him to reach others.
“He wants to use you so He may be known,” he said. “So, you can’t hide. But you’re not on your own. Don’t sweat it. He’s got you.”
Jones told the students they are to be representatives of Christ and that God has positioned them for a purpose, which is to make Him known.
“We reflect the light of His Son,” he said. “We are to show Truth. We are to show The Way. We are to deliver his message of hope, the Good News.”
Jones also used the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, found in John 4, to urge the students to share their stories of how Jesus changed their lives. Just as Jesus offered her living water, He does the same for them and their friends and family members, he said.
“If you know enough of the Gospel that it saved you, you know enough to share with somebody else,” he offered. “If you can’t quote the verses don’t worry about that. Tell them about where Jesus met you and how Jesus changed your life. And then point them to Him.”
BE ON GUARD
Counselor Clint Davis of Shreveport told the students to chase the desires of Christ rather than the pleasures of the world.
“If we look at America, we’re on the cusp of a great crash,” he said. “We’re on the cusp of falling apart, because our foundations are built on sinking sand, and not Scripture and not the Holy Spirit and not the Word of God. You guys have got to be a generation who builds their houses on a firm foundation.”
David challenged the students to be different for Christ when using social media. He suggested they post healthy content, refrain from bullying on posts, not edit their own content and gather a group of friends to fast from social media for a certain period.
“My challenge for us is to be image bearers for Christ in the world of social media, is to do a little bit here and there to where you can be different where people can come to you and say, ‘hey, I noticed that you post so differently than everybody else. Why is that?’ And that’s the opportunity for you to share the Gospel and share about Christ what Christ has done in your life.”
Davis also told the students to flee from sexual immorality and seek out trusted Christ followers for help in this area.
“If you have trauma, if you’ve been abused, if you’ve experienced anything within your sexual development, you are not bad, you’re not gross, you are not broken and beyond repair,” he said. “God is still the God of restoration. He wants to heal and restore those things.”
TRAINED TO SHARE
By the end of the two-day spiritual encounter, several hundred students had made decisions for Christ, with 157 students stepping forward during the opening session to accept Christ, grow deeper in their faith or pursue a call to ministry.
The threat of severe weather impacted the remaining times of decision. Instead of approaching the stage during an altar call and going to a tent outside to talk further with counselors, students told their adult leaders, who will follow up with them on an individual basis.
In addition to messages by Jones, participants enjoyed times of worship led by WeRecalled, entertainment by the Exiles and the Skit Guys, and prayers led by students from around the state. YEC 2023 concluded with a concert by Cain, an award-winning contemporary Christian group.
Students and adult leaders also were challenged to share their testimonies with classmates, family members, co-workers, and others. During the Monday afternoon session, Jones encouraged the students to use the Three Circles Gospel conversation tool to share the Gospel with others.
This was the seventh of a multi-year rotation to equip students with various tools to share Christ.
“Somebody else’s salvation is not dependent on you, that’s between them with the Lord,” Jones told the students. “What Christ is calling us to do as our call and our charge is contact. His job is conversion. And you never know where somebody is in the moment. Somebody else may have sown the seed, somebody else may have come alongside and watered. You don’t know where you fit in the puzzle of that person’s life, but know that there’s somebody, there are those that are waiting on you, and God has called you to share your faith.”