With gratitude to God, Reformed Youth Services was pleased to host a record number of more than 620 young people, sponsors, speakers and staff at Biola University in La Mirada, California July 26–30.
Almost forty member churches attended the weeklong event, which had as its theme “Stars in the Universe.” Rev. Phil Grotenhuis, pastor of a newly formed church plant in Springfield, Missouri, and Rev. Jason Tuinstra, pastor of Community United Reformed Church in Schererville, Indiana were the main speakers, focusing on such topics as the antithesis and sexual purity.
“The speakers glorified God,“ remarked one sponsor. “Excellent messages. Our group said that the main speakers were the best they have had so far. They were easy to listen to and very applicable,” said another adult leader. “Very good sermons,” said one teen, “Very easy to understand but very in depth.” “Awesome, man! I loved listening to him. The purity session was awesome,” commented yet another young person, one of approximately 485 teens who attended.
Twelve churches sent twenty or more conventioneers to the conference, which was the fourth annual RYS national convention. The 1st URC of Chino, California was the largest church represented, totaling 44 youth and adult sponsors.
Ten related workshops were also offered, of which participants attended five of their choosing. Topics covered included discernment, dating, servanthood, sanctification and entertainment. Two special guy-girl only workshops were led by Rev. Todd Joling of Faith URC in Beecher, IL and Mrs. Gwen Headley (wife of Rev. Alrick Headley of Zion URC in Ripon, CA), entitled “Be a Man!” and “A Virtuous Woman,” respectively.
Some of the workshop comments received through student evaluations included the following: “He really knew what he was talking about and backed it up with Scripture,” stated one teenager. “It made an impact because of his personal experience and passion for the subject. Very applicable,” said another. “Very detailed, I like how he used a lot of Scripture passages,” remarked a third youth.
Sponsors also commented on the workshops, which were held Tuesday and Wednesday of the conference. “It was a great workshop. It was very interesting to be made aware and warned of the evil forces and the evil in this world,” said one leader. “Very good! Got the kid’s attention. Challenging for the kids,” said another. “Tough topic to talk to teens about and he used good biblical backing,” stated a third counselor.
In addition to attending five main sessions and workshops, the teens also were required to attend morning devotional sessions authored by the main speakers, reinforcing what they heard the day before.
The usual recreational opportunities were enjoyed by many of the youth, featuring three on three basketball tournaments, coed volleyball and soccer, as well as indoor games. The adult leaders also enjoyed the fellowship of the annual sponsors dinner, at which they learned more about RYS programs such as STEP (Summer Teen Evangelism Project), Mini-STEP (young adults mission opportunity in Toronto), LOGOS single young adult conferences and RYS regional retreats held in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, California and Washington.
Hearty thanks should be given to the hard-working volunteer committee, who meet all year long and sacrifice family time to ensure the convention runs smoothly. We also praise God for wonderful weather, traveling mercies and for protecting us from serious injuries. To Him be all the Glory!
Next year’s convention will be held, Lord willing, July 25-29 at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. Registration brochures will be mailed out to churches in December. For more information about RYS or the convention, please contact RYS Director Ed DeGraaf at (616) 667-0694 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Audiotapes of the 2004 main and convention speakers are available for $35.00. A complete DVD set of the speakers and the concluding slide show are available for $70.00, or $10 per DVD. A limited amount of VHS tapes are available at $50 per set. Please contact Ed DeGraaf for ordering information.