Gilbert Cangy is urging Seventh-day Adventist youth to hear one less sermon next year.
The Adventist world church’s Youth Ministries director is setting aside one Sabbath for Global Youth Day, an international community service day, Saturday, March 16, 2013. Cangy, in consultation with Youth Ministry directors of the denomination’s 13 world divisions, is promoting the event now by urging local youth leaders to reserve the date, the first day of next year’s Week of Prayer.
Cangy said he hopes youth that day will forgo hearing a sermon and instead “be the sermon” by serving in the community.
“What if our young people exited the church that day and went out to be the hands and feet of Jesus?” Cangy said. “There’s nothing better than mission to bring us together as a world church.”
He said the idea comes from the Good Samaritan parable of Jesus. “Two religious people, maybe on their way to church, didn’t stop to help someone who was beaten up and in need. The heart of religion and Christianity is to reach out and meet the needs of the beaten-up people of this world,” Cangy said.
Leaders estimate there are potentially eight million church members under the age of 30. Cangy said he plans to make the event a springboard for future initiatives to help further connect youth to the world church.
The Youth Ministries website will soon offer suggestions for service projects for the March 16 event. Cangy said he expects local church leaders and young people to contextualize the ideas and improve them.
One project he hopes catches on is blood donation. Cangy donated blood last year and learned of the significant need in many communities. “Jesus gave his blood for us. We want to give blood and save lives,” he said.
On the day of the event, the website will offer an interactive map highlighting projects live as the day progresses through all 24 time zones.
Armando Miranda, a world church vice president, called the initiative “historic” for going even beyond mass service projects of thousands of participants attending a youth congress.
“This will be the gospel in action, the first time we’ll do this kind of thing worldwide simultaneously,” Miranda said.
Local youth leaders said they welcomed the idea, both for its local impact and to help unite Adventist youth worldwide.
“I think it’s about time we had something as engaging as this,” said James Black, Youth Ministries director for the North American Division, based in the United States.
“The uniqueness of this is that it unites us as a world church in service,” Black said. “The spiritual impact on the lives of such a diverse community will leave an indelible impression on many who don’t know Christ.”
In the East-Central Africa Division, based in Kenya, Youth Ministries Director Magulilo Mwakalonge said he anticipates youth participating in service projects similar to previous outreach, including taking food to hospitals, visiting the elderly, and visiting orphanages to have fun and pray with kids. He said some senior youth would likely visit prisons to preach.
“Our young people are excited about that and they’re looking forward to that day of joining the world church and impacting their community,” Mwakalonge said.
The division is advertising through announcements in seminars and messages on Facebook. Later, posters advertising the March 16 service day will be sent to local churches throughout the division.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea to think globally and act locally,” said Paul Tompkins, Youth Ministries director for the Trans-European Division, based in England. “I think this will catch on all around the world, and we will promote this strongly in this division.”
For more information, visit gcyouthministries.org