YouthCon 2019, the USMB national youth convention, will take place April 3-7, 2019, back where it all began in 1975—Glorieta, New Mexico. The planning committee has been hard at work confirming speakers, preparing for online registration and handling a million details necessary for the four content-packed days in April.
Sara Jo Waldron, Hillsboro, Kansas, and Scot Pierce, Wichita, Kansas, will serve as hosts for the event. Both have their own story of how conferences like YouthCon and youth ministry have impacted their own lives.
Waldron is the youth pastor at Hillsboro MB Church and has a heart for helping kids push through that awkward stage of life and to rest in their identity in Christ. She whole-heartedly believes in the power of corporate events like YouthCon.
“There is something unique about going away from the normal routine of your life with the intentionality of seeking Jesus in a large community of believers and trusting that the Good Father has good gifts for you, his child,” Waldron says.
“We sometimes want to water-down these events as just emotionally charged ‘hype’, because there is always the risk of no follow-through once everyone returns home. We can tend to devalue the ‘mountain top experiences’ as less meaningful, simply because we come down from the mountain top. But the truth is that people are changed, transformed, encouraged, inspired or directed when they make it a point to draw near to Jesus and sit at the feet of others who have been sitting at the feet of the Savior. That’s what happens at YouthCon!”
Waldron’s passion for youth ministry is evident in conversations with her, but hearing her own story of salvation brings the message home.
“My 17-year-old self sat fixated in an arena of 4,000 students with my eyes glued to the stage where Suzie Schellenberg delivered a powerful message about laying it all down for Jesus,” Waldron says. “In those very moments, I sensed deep in my spirit a calling and anointing from the Lord. I just heard the Spirit whisper in to my life and into my dreams that one day I would be standing on a stage teaching people about the incredible love of Jesus.
“I tucked it away; it sounded too proud to tell others about it. I didn’t have an immediate follow-through upon returning home, but I knew that God called me in to some form of ministry that involved using my gifts of public speaking to build others up in the Faith.”
Waldron hopes her experience helps other youth to be open to God’s call for their lives. “We will see a multiplication of God’s kingdom when the students who encounter and experience God at YouthCon go out and do the works he prepared in advance for them to do,” she says. “YouthCon gets to be a small part of that, and I’m blown away that I get to be a part of YouthCon.”
Scot Pierce is equally passionate. Better known as ScotyP, Pierce is a Division II game day announcer for collegiate football, volleyball and men and women’s basketball, including NAIA tournament championships. He is currently an administrator for a specialty pharmacy group of independent pharmacies. He serves as a worship team volunteer at First MB Church in Wichita, Kansas.
“Being a youth today is either like being a couch potato jamming your face full of chips or being a young spiritual athlete,” he says. “You’re bombarded by the world telling you it’s just the way it is. I was the analogous couch potato kid, spiritually speaking. Not sure who to believe or who to trust. My life was propelling but after experiencing a second parental divorce and adoption that to a degree changed my identity, I knew something was missing.”
Pierce became a Christian at a youth conference while dealing with some of the same issues teens today face.
“I filled my tank with truth and love and freedom from the chains of the world I had been dragging for so long,” Pierce says. “To release despair, disappointment and realize that the one who created it all placed me in the surround sound of those who told me, sold me and loved me like he loved me. It enlightened my soul and I came home with a renewed redeeming love and spirit. I would never be the same.”
He wants to pass that same experience on to the students who he will meet in New Mexico next spring.
“YouthCon will fill your tank with live music, fun in the Son, powerful word and life changing moments,” Pierce says. “Jesus is the one who brought the wall down. He’s the one who knocked Goliath on his butt! He’s the one who makes miracles happen. He’s the one who raised the dead. He doesn’t ask or require us to be miraculous. He asks us to be faithful. YouthCon gets you off the couch and gets you in the game! Your heart will change. Your mind will change. Your hands will change!”