From ANN, 4 August 2018  |  “If we don’t know who we are, we will not know why we are,” stated Pastor David Asscherick in an the opening night sermon at the Global Youth Leaders Congress in Kassel, Germany. As a convert to the Adventist faith he challenged leaders by telling them, “if you don’t know it, we are weird!”

That came as an uncomfortable thought following a list of identities that initially drew the Adventist movement together. He noted common ground for Adventist identity, starting with basic humanity, albeit with many sub-divisions of culture and geography. Then he listed religious faith based on monotheism, Christianity, 500 years of Protestantism, down to the reality of being an Adventist today.

Yet, he stated, “we are weird.” What did he mean by that? Simply that because of many of our lifestyle and doctrinal distinctives we point to difference rather than opportunities. We build walls when we should be building bridges.

Asscherick then emphasized Romans 1:14-16 where Paul, a convert to Christianity, noted his three-fold identity: I am a debtor. I am ready to preach the Gospel. I am not ashamed of the Gospel.

That powerful message set the tone for a congress that is designed with the specific purpose “to equip, engage and empower leaders for the new generation.” As a church pastor who came from Australia to attend the event in Kassel, Germany, 31 July through 4 August, Asscherick is perhaps representative of the 1,600 Adventist youth leaders of all ages and from most nations, who are here to be energized and inspired under the conference theme, “Pass it on.” The four days have been crowded with a mixture of lectures, workshops, small group meetings and opportunities for witness.

Pastor Gary Blanchard, youth director for the denomination’s General Conference and chief organizer of the event, emphasized the intention of the gathering to raise up leaders for the church, especially those that can work cross-generationally. This will include a strong emphasis in a joint European iCore project initiated by leaders from the denomination’s Trans-European Division and Inter-European Division that can now go global. This will be explored under the themes of iGrow, iCare, iLearn, iServe and iPreach by the time the Congress climaxes tonight. During the process time is given to prayer and to the ability for leaders to take on board and develop new concepts.

Going by the buzz on the street as delegates headed back towards their hotels in the heat of the German summer, those goals may well be fulfilled. The main plenary session from the congress are available on Live-Stream via the Congress website: http://youth.adventist.org/GYLC

The Adventist News Network (ANN) is the official new service of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.

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