Conferences challenge youth to follow God
by Jenny Gaskell
High school students from across the Central and Southern District Conferences gathered for their annual youth conventions in November. SDYC, the Southern District event that draws youth from Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Colorado, was held in Weatherford, Okla., November 14-16. Central District Youth Conference drew youth from Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota for a four-day conference Nov. 20-23 in the Black Hills of Rapid City, South Dakota.
Dave Gass, a pastor from Cedar Point, Kan., addressed the Southern Distict youth with heart-challenging messages, urging attendees to choose a life of actively following God. “Faith with guts” was a phrase Gass frequently used. He forced the students to ask hard questions: “Do I hate sin like God hates sin?” “Do I love God? Well, then do I obey him?”
Gass challenge the students to choose a life that was either hot or cold, on fire for God or one completely separate. Lives were changed, as those wishing to choose God were invited to stand. Across the athletic arena countless individuals arose to their feet, affirming their trust and devotion to Christ.
Toby Berg, first year youth pastor from Enid (Okla.) MB Church in Enid, attended SDYC faithfully with his own youth group as a young person from Hillsboro, Kan.
“I always loved SDYC in high school; I went all 4 years,” says Berg. “I really enjoyed the way God spoke to me through the speakers, but most of all I enjoyed the friends from other MB churches that I made and maintained at SDYC.”
Berg continues, “I was excited to go back as a leader and to be able to be part of such a great opportunity for the kids in my youth group, as well as others to grow spiritually and in community.
“I am truly blessed,” says Berg. “I can’t believe I get paid for this.”
Cam Priebe joined the Central District youth at Cedar Canyon Wesleyan Camp as the speaker for the weekend.
The theme was based out of Ephesians 2 and centered on the concept of “Identity.” “The purpose of me is that God created me. That’s it,” said Priebe, noting that identy stems from purpose. Priebe encouraged the audience to find out who they are, and then based on that determine what they will do—not the other way around. Priebe often used the phrase, “To be known is to be loved. To be loved is to be known.” Listeners were challenged to view others with that same desire to know and love; to see others with that same inherent value.
Joanna Chapa, a Tabor College student, attended the event as one of two representatives for MBMS International. “Having led worship for CDYC twice before, I was excited for an opportunity to nurture relationships I had previously built with youth groups from the Central District,” Chapa says. “Because these relationships were already established, and I had seen their passion for giving to mission, it enabled me to present a challenge of action to go out.”
Holding youth conferences in both the Southern and Central districts provides a unique opportunity for the young people in these regions to grow and develop spiritually.
“The U.S. Conference holds the National Youth Convention every four years,” says Chapa, who is from the Latin America MB Conference. “SDYC and CDYC give youth groups and leaders an annual venue to be challenged and participating in God’s kingdom work.”