The first annual Reformed Youth Services National Convention can be hailed as a success. We, the excited teens, arrived on Monday, July 30 between 1–5 p.m. at beautiful Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Surrounded by grand mountains and spectacular old buildings we found a haven to learn about “Taking Every Thought Captive,” our theme for the week. Our theme was based on II Corinthians 10:5 which reads “and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”
In our main sessions we were privileged to hear two well-known and influential men speak. Dr. Dennison, an ordained OPC minister and an associate professor at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia; and Mr. Rip Pratt, who is the pastor of youth and family as well as marriage and family counselor at Bethel CRC in Dallas, Texas. God used both of these men to powerfully convict and challenge us in our goal to “take every thought captive.”
Under Dr. Dennison, we learned how we can know the mind of Christ through studying and sitting under thepreaching of the Word every Sunday. Know-ing the mind of Christ makes us wise to the ways of the world and the devil. Dr.Dennison challenged us to remember that every thought that enters into our mind should be one we would want in heaven sitting before the throne of God. Our mind must continually be on the things of God.
Mr. Rip Pratt expounded on the enemies we have—the world, the flesh and the devil. Each one of these “enemies” tries to take our minds off the things of Christ. We learned that it is hard work to “take every thought captive,” as we are constantly in a battle to keep our minds pure before God. Mr. Pratt told us that we must know the Bible to fight our enemies, and that there is no excuse for our ignorance.
We (Reformed teens) have been blessed with a wonderful knowledge. Now we must use that knowledge to be examples to those around us.
Pastor Jeff Doll from the 1st URC of Chino, California was our emcee. He did a great job. I am going to quote something I heard about him one day while I was walking around because it describes him so well: “He is so sincere up there and he really seems to care about us. He’s really funny at the right times and serious when heneeds to be.”Those of youwho know himrealize how truethis is.Each conven-tioneer was also allowed to choose four workshops (out of nine) to attend. These workshops, led by pastors and youth directors, had a wide range of topics all under the heading of our theme. Following is the list we had to choose from: “Who are You?” with Rev. Wybren Oord; “Work: Curse or Calling” with Rev. Todd Joling; “Live Long and Prosper” with Rev. Ian Wright; “The Immorality of Neutrality” with Mr. Dave VanderMeer, “The Craze for Amusement” with Rev. Jason Tuinstra, “Everyday Service” with Rev. Ken Smith, “Not a Square Inch” with Rev. Brian Vos, “Exercising Sports Control” with Rev. Steve DeBoer and “Time, Talents and Treasures” with Rev. Rich Kuiken. As you can see, the choice was not easy! I guess the convention committee knew this so they made tapes available of all the main sessions and the workshops for people like me who wanted to hear them all.
Leading us in worship to our ever-living God were some really neat men: Al Gemmen and Sam Krikke. This was their “First Big Gig.” We sang some familiar songs and they taught us some new ones. It is really amazing to hear 300 teens sing praises to their Lord and Savior in heaven. It gave me chills! I wish you could have been there and experienced that. Praise God!
By the end of the week our little minds were on overload! Six main sessions, three each with Dr. Dennison and Mr. Pratt, plus four workshops—Wow!!! The fact that there was so much knowledge to be gained in this week is fantastic. God has given us the opportunity to grow so much, but now we must grasp that knowledge and put into practice what we have learned.
Stuffed in the middle of all this learning, the committee also planned many fun activities in the form of tournaments and games for us to participate in-if we so wished. There was 3-on-3 basketball, coed volleyball, soccer and a bump tournament. Teams were made up from either a church youth group, a bunch of friends or maybe just walking around asking others to form a team. The championship teams from the different sports received tee-shirts as a prize for winning. Some of the more athletically-challenged among us were the self-appointed cheerleaders.
One night in the Skye Lounge (a hangout place overlooking the river) we were visited by a well-known T.V. star! Guess who it was? Regis Philbin from “Who Wants to be a Millionaire!” Got ya! Actually it was an imposter and we played “Who wants to be a Biblionaire?”
To cool off one afternoon we could go to the wave pool. One day we did something quite unusual. In front of the dining hall the Fire Department came and hooked up a big sprinkler-like thing in the street and started spraying water way up in the air! We could run through it or just stand in it, or whatever, but we sure got wet!
Our day away this year was at Kennywood Amusement Park. This is one of the oldest parks in the country, so I heard. I had a lot of fun, even though I am not a roller coaster person! Those who like roller coasters enjoyed themselves a lot!
Friday, was a day for laughter, email-address exchanging, and of course goodbyes. Just before we all departed for home we had a praise celebration. Anyone could sign up either as a solo or as a group. Many people chose to sing or do a piano solo. Then, for something new this year, the committee put together a show on the Power Point. They used the pictures they had snapped of us on digital cameras throughout the week. What a great way to end the week, although I cried. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to all my friends, but I wanted to see my family. I would just like to say thankyou to the committee members who worked so hard on this convention. It really showed! It was the best one I have been to yet, and was definitely the most challenging to me spiritually. I heard so many positive comments from everyone I talked to. So-o-o, hat’s off to you committee!
To God be the glory, a conventioneer, Laura Kramer.
Laura Kramer is a member of the Cornerstone URC (MI) youth group.