The Southern District Junior High Youth Conference was held Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at Cross Timbers Church in Edmond, Okla., with 170 youth and sponsors in attendance. The one-day event included worship sessions, a service project and free time.
The theme of the event was “The Missing Peace.” Speaker Sara Jo Waldron, youth pastor at Hillsboro (Kan.) MB Church and chair of the Southern District Youth Commission, spoke during two sessions about what it means to be a peacemaker and follow Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Kevin Larson, a member of the Southern District Youth Commission who was in charge of planning the event, describes Waldron’s message as a challenge to follow Jesus’ example.
“If we’re following (Jesus) then we need to live a life of peace, but that doesn’t mean just going with the flow all the time or being a doormat,” Larson says. “Actually, it means probably disrupting the status quo and rocking the boat a little bit. (Sara Jo) spoke at length about different times that Jesus, while being the Prince of Peace, disrupted the status quo and then challenged us to do the same.”
Tabor College’s Worship Ministry Team led worship.
Youth and sponsors worked together to pack 15,884 meals in 30 minutes to be delivered to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. Working at tables in the fellowship hall, youth formed an assembly line to put together freeze-dried meals of rice and beans to be made into soup.
“We didn’t just come together and hear about the importance of peace, but we spread peace through a really practical way of feeding families in need in the Oklahoma City area,” Larson says. “It’s really hard to hear that God loves you or that he has a plan for you if your stomach’s empty, but let’s fill those stomachs and then we can talk to them about God.”
During free-time, youth played games and made crafts. Inflatables, a slide and an obstacle course were also available.
Larson says the event was well-received, praising Cross Timbers for buying into the vision and helping create a successful event.
“I love that we’re, as a conference, really focusing on this age group and giving them a day and providing this for them,” Larson says. “It was a great event and something that I want people to know about and celebrate and praise God for.”
Joe Weaver, Cross Timbers worship pastor, was the JHYC host church coordinator.
“I was completely blown away at the incredible day we shared together at SDJHYC,” he says. “It was an action-packed adventure from start to finish. The food was great; the emcees, worship band and speaker were awesome; and the service project was unbelievable to take in. The activity time was over-the-top crazy and loads of fun. Best of all, the sweet presence of God was with us the entire day, and it was a joy to delight in his goodness, grace, truth and love.”