“God is working in my life and I’m not alone.”
“I can make a difference in my hometown.”
“God has placed me in my school to create disciples there.”
“I learned to fully rely on his love.”
These were some of the phrases that high school students used on Instagram when asked what they learned at the recent All Ontario Youth Convention (AOYC), which took place on May 17 to 19. Over 1,000 youth and leaders from across the province (an attendance record) met on the Wilfrid Laurier Campus in Waterloo, Ontario for four days of learning, worship and connection.
The AOYC began in 1975 as an event organized by teams of young adults attending Christian Reformed churches in southern Ontario. Now in its 45th year, the convention hosts attendees from a wide range of churches, denominations and schools. Students sleep in the dorm rooms and have meals together in the dining hall on campus. The university athletic centre is transformed into a stage and seating for mainstage sessions. This year, students joined together here for high-energy worship, led by C4 Worship, from C4 church in Ajax. Conventioneers also attend smaller teaching seminars from local speakers and leaders on a wide range of topics related to the theme. Six times throughout the weekend, students and leaders meet together in small groups for discussion and prayer.
RETHINKING THE 'GOOD LIFE'
This year, pastor Brandon Richardson, of Slate Church (Waterloo), spoke on the theme of “Resonate” – a call to tune our hearts to the frequency of God’s voice and to echo God’s love to the communities in which God has placed them. Richardson spoke on the parable of the sower and the soils. “Jesus has more hope over the condition of your soul than you do,” he offered. “He’s not a bad farmer – he’s a hopeful farmer. He sees so much potential in you.” He challenged students to rethink the idea of a “good life,” saying, “a life walked with God is a life that is good. God’s plan for your life is for you to surrender your will to his.”
WAVES OF IMPACT
Students were invited to ask God for a name of someone in their life with whom they could share his love. They wrote the name down, handed it in and committed to pray for that individual, as well as for opportunities to share their own faith. It was a powerful moment when the 1,000 names that were chosen flashed on the projector screen, providing tangible evidence of students responding wholeheartedly to the call to make a difference in the lives of the people around them.
The concept of resonating with the love of God and sending waves of impact into communities was amplified by a convention-wide service project led by World Renew. Students were asked to bring ten items of non-perishable food for Waterloo Food Bank, as well as a monetary donation for hunger relief in Bangladesh. By the end of the weekend, an astounding $7,200 and 3,477 pounds of food donations were collected. As many as 10,000 families will receive assistance thanks to the action of these teens from Ontario.
The AOYC relies on the time and energy of a team of 250 passionate leaders who desire to encourage and disciple teens. Some of these adults are youth workers or pastors who are involved in youth ministry throughout the year. Additionally, a large number are those who aren’t youth leaders, but were blessed by the AOYC as teens, now spend the weekend as small group leaders or volunteers. This year, 63 percent of all AOYC leaders were under the age of 30. The way that these young adults love and serve the teenagers attending the AOYC is a picture of the generous, self-sacrificing love of God and has contributed immeasurably to the influence of the event.
If a teen in your church or family attended the AOYC, reach out to them and connect about their experience. When caring and invested adults take the time to ask meaningful questions about an event like this, it can speak volumes to a teen about your desire to help them grow spiritually.
Rather than just asking how they liked the AOYC, you can ask specific but open-ended questions, like:
What are two things you appreciated about the reach-in sessions?
What was the highlight of the weekend for you?
Tell me about your favourite moment in the mainstage sessions.
What was the most important thing that you learned?
If you’re passionate about seeing teens grow in their faith, consider getting involved in AOYC 2020. There are many ways to support this life-changing event, both throughout the year and on the weekend itself. Visit allontario.com or email moc.oiratnolla@ofni for more details.
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