“Just as soon as I took the lid off the pot, people were standing waiting to be served,” said Gael Murray, administrative assistant for North American Division Youth Ministries, who distributed soup during Global Youth Day on Saturday, March 17.
Global Youth Day, or “GYD,” is an annual day of outreach designed for youth and young adults to “Be the Sermon” by performing acts of compassion in their communities. This year, participants around the world were asked to focus on providing food and water to the needy.
Murray, along with a group from the General Conference Youth Ministries Department, traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, set up tables with giant pots, and served soup to whomever passed by and expressed a need.
“One person told me that he could smell the soup across the street,” said Murray. “These people were very hungry. Some of the individuals mentioned that they had not had anything to eat for two days.”
A broadcast of stories from the Church’s North American region was streamed from the NAD headquarters in Columbia, Maryland. NAD Youth Ministries director Tracy Wood and associate director Vandeon Griffon curated the content and hosted the live stream.
NAD executive secretary Alex Bryant also participated in the live broadcast and shared how the story from Baltimore and other stories throughout the division inspired him.
“It really touched me to hear so many people who were hungry and just wanted something warm to eat. ... We have the opportunity to change the conversation, to elevate humanity," said Bryant. “Jesus said, ‘I have come to heal the broken hearted, to set the captives free.’”
“It’s time we stop acting as if it’s not [our] problem,” Murray said. “It’s time we start helping our brothers and sisters.”
Armando Miranda, Jr., associate director for NAD Youth Ministries served as one of the producers for the broadcast. According to Miranda, this year’s GYD stream had more content and engagement. “It’s growing because of word of mouth,” said Miranda. And since GYD, stories have rolled in from New York and Oregon up to Alberta, Canada, and all the way from Hawaii.
“This is something that gives them hands-on experience, hands-on ministry,” said Miranda.
“And of course, it shouldn’t only be one day, and most of them are getting that. But this is a highlight for what they’re doing throughout the week, [and all] year.”
While organizers are still crunching numbers to get a sense of the event’s global impact, leaders are excited about the testimonies and stories that have been posted throughout social media.
“GYD18 gave us the depth and breadth of the creativity of the youth and young adults of the Adventist church,” said Pako Mokgwane, associate director for GC Adventist Youth Ministries.
“The youth took the food and water drive to another level. For example, policemen and firemen received a warm lunch [from a group] as an appreciation for their work. Furthermore, in a place where there was a pit latrine, a water system toilet was installed.”
Mokgwane continued, “The other aspect of GYD18 that came out in a strong way is that our youth can be trusted. Give the youth something, they will give you more than you asked for.”