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The following took place in Maryland from December 29, 2010 through January 13, 2011.

I have finally returned to the Northeast after having attended my first youth conference since the one in Stamford, Connecticut. This one was called "Generation of Youth for Christ", also known as "GYC" for short. GYC is an Adventist grassroots movement led by young adults in the United States. This was their ninth annual conference held by them and the location for it was at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD. from Dec. 29, 2010 through Jan. 2, 2011. There were about 7,000 young people, from all corners of the globe (42 countries to be exact) came to gather together at this conference. This was something I had never seen before. The theme was called "No Turning Back," which was based on Luke 9:61-62, which says: "And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (King James Version).

They had different seminars covering a variety of topics, which ranged from evangelism, personal spirituality, prophecy, practical godliness, theology, Christian philosophy, worship, biblical instruction, and much more. It was packed with spirit-filled messages, inspiring Bible study, fervent prayer, solemn worship and awesome fellowship. It reminded me of a statement from Ellen White in her book Education page 271, paragraph 2: "With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world!" There were many speakers at the four-day event, which included several church leaders from General Conference. Among the speakers scheduled to speak that Sabbath was the newly elected president of the Adventist world church, Ted N. C. Wilson.

It was different than what I had originally expected. On the first full day there I was not able to attend any of the seminars due to the setting up of the booth for The Mission in the exhibition hall. However, on the second full day there, I went to the seminars on the Gift of Prophecy and Evangelism led by Pastor Mark Finley, who was the former speaker/director of It Is Written from 1991–2004. He is also an Evangelist, Author and Vice President of Evangelism for the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. When he was finished, I approached him and ask if I could have a picture taken with him (thanks to Dorothee’s generous donation of her camera). He consented and when we took the first picture, he remarked, “I think I was talking”. So we took a second photo, which came out much better than the first. I then thanked him for the time he took for the picture. Then I went to another room in the convention center and met James R. Nix, the director of the Ellen G. White Estate and had a picture taken with him as well. Throughout the afternoon, I stayed at the booth for the “The Mission” in the exhibit hall, talking to people, making contacts, and networking. In the evening, I saw Elder Ted Wilson and tried to get to get a picture taken with him, but to no avail. I did meet Pastor David Gates though and had a picture taken with him. Pastor Gates is a Missionary Pilot and Evangelist for Gospel Ministries International. He was very humble and very kind to me.

On Sabbath, I arrived early at the convention center and got a fairly decent seat for divine worship. Elder Ted Wilson preached an inspirational sermon on our mission as young people to reach others for Jesus. He remarked at one point, “be an activist, not a ‘slacktivist.’” That got a chuckle from the audience. He briefly touched on health saying that he tries his best to keep the eight laws of health and encouraged us to do the same. At the end of his sermon, he made a call for young to come forward and become committed to finishing the work. As soon as he said, “please come down front,” I did just that. I prayed with two other young soldiers for Christ near the area where Elder Wilson was preaching. The spirit was really felt there. When we finished praying and made our way, Greg and I saw each other, smiled, and put our shoulders around each other. I have a feeling that he and I will be working closely together. During the afternoon, there were over 70 buses were filled with GYC attendees that went out into to the cold streets and knocked on some 38,000 doors and invited more than a thousand people to study the Bible. Regrettably, I did not get a chance to do outreach as should have (I plan to do so this coming year for GYC 2011), but I did get a chance to catch up with a friend of mine named Peter Chung, an evangelist and in charge of Final Generation Media. We talked about everything, history, family, testimonies, and so on. Later that afternoon in the exhibition hall, I met a kind gentleman named Jim Ayer at a booth promoting Adventist World Radio, the international broadcast ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He told me of the importance of its mission to reach people around the world with our message in different languages, even in places which are hard to reach. I thought I should have a picture taken with him and when I asked him, he graciously accepted. I later found out that he was the vice president for Advancement in Adventist World Radio and he’s been through some amazing experiences on foreign mission trips.

Sunday was spent packing and traveling to a house of a local pastor named Melvyn Hayden III whom we stayed with for about a week and five days. We mostly canvassed parking lots and homes near the church in Largo, which is actually named Mitchellville Seventh-day Adventist Church. On Tuesday, January 11th, I was given the day off from canvassing and I went to visit the World Headquarters of the Seventh Day-Adventist Church in Silver Springs. I missed the early morning tour, but I did attend a Spanish tour of the White Estate. The receptionist, Rachelle, was very friendly. I even spoke up, not abruptly, but calmly and politely, and gave some anecdotes on Ellen White. Rachelle then showed me personally the original manuscripts of the Great Controversy. It was really exciting. Then when a group of students from Oakwood arrived, Rachelle then asked me to give the tour. I accepted and we had a wonderful time on tour and I even answered some questions they had about Sister White. Even James R. Nix, the director of the White Estate, whom I’ve been told is usually very busy, came out and spoke to me afterwards, jokingly saying, “If Rachelle is sick, we ought to give you a call.” We laughed and then he mentioned that he wanted to make the White Estate more interactive and asked what I thought. I suggested some videos of presentations they could show, such as one of Pastor Doug Batchelor’s sermons entitled “Messenger for a Movement” from his '07 revival series is called "Here We Stand", "The Gift", which is a series of sermons by Pastor Dwight K. Nelson on Ellen White and the Gift of Prophecy, and so on. Before I left, Rachelle gave me a free mug depicting from Adventist Communication Network, and a small pin with the initials “EGW,” then she said, “You know, Manuel, We usually give this pin only to pastors, but I want to give this to you.” I was deeply touched and we exchanged contact information. I went back with the other missionaries two days later to our new missionary headquarters in Harrisville, New Hampshire.

Indeed, this is a new era. We are turning a new page and I had turned one for my own life. From the time of GYC, it had caused to really reflect about my faith, my relationship with God, and my church heritage. Indeed GYC was an extraordinary experience for me from the seminars that I attended, the people that I have met, and the activities which I engaged in. Since those events, I was inspired to really study the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. I realize now that I’m not merely a part of some bureaucratic organization, but of a movement. We, young Adventist Christians, are being summoned and need come to the realization that the first step in finishing the work is actually going to work. I want to close with an excerpt from Elder Ted Wilson’s sermon, which I attended that Sabbath – January 1, 2011: “Young people, let me challenge you to go beyond the typical expectations of youth.  Don’t leave here just excited enough about the Advent movement that you merely wear your GYC t-shirt or post a bold but fleeting comment about your faith somewhere online. Do better than that……… BE better than that! In your walk with Christ, genuinely focus on the singular goal of the glory of God. Don’t turn away from God’s Word and turn back to the allurements of the world. Spend serious time in daily prayer and Bible study asking the Lord for a special outpouring of His Holy Spirit. Humbly ask the Lord for a revival of spiritual fervor and a reformation of anything in your life that is not in harmony with the commands of Scripture and the counsels of the Spirit of Prophecy.” It is so simple and yet so true. I hope that flame ignited at GYC will never burn out and that the experience of those two weeks will always be refreshed in my mind. I hope that I will be to attend GYC 2011 – Fill Me: Our Earnest Plea in Houston, Texas. It has made an impact on my spiritual life and I pray that I will be daily motivated to keep reaching people who are searching, helping seekers to find a more peaceful and restful life with Jesus, and come to the point where I always want to do more to serve God.

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