Youth

ABCNJ Youth Thrive at IMMERSE

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Report by Rev. Marella Holmes, ABCNJ Associate Regional Pastor for Youth Ministries

Since 1972, the American Baptist Home Missions Societies hosts the National Gathering of American Baptist Youth conference every four years. IMMERSE 2012 was held on the campus of American University in Washington D.C on July 24-28, 2012. The conference theme was based on Romans 12:1-2 (MSG). The goal of the conference was to mobilize and engage American Baptist Youth to be disciples and leaders in their church, school and community.

ABCNJ had a delegation of almost 50 youth and youth ministers/leaders attend the conference. Regional churches represented at the conference were: Evergreen- Teaneck, FBC Kenilworth, FBC New Brunswick, Shiloh –Trenton, FBC- New Market, FBC Westfield and Mt. Zion-Newark. The delegation participated in daily worship, speaker presentations, small group discussion, back home small groups and dorm devotion. The highlight of the conference was two days of mission outreach in the Washington D.C. area. The ABCNJ delegation assisted the elderly with light food shopping and errands, gleaned collard greens for families in poverty, and fed children in the City Gate’s summer program.

The second day of the conference was dedicated to advocacy. A panel discussion provided the attendees with a broad array of opportunities to put faith into action. The panel consisted of community service agency leaders to recent mission trip participants. The region’s Reverend Ty Choate, pastor of the FBC Red Bank, was one of the participants on the panel discussion. After the panel discussion the conference attendees participated in a Prayer Walk on the National Mall in Washington D.C.

The day of advocacy ended with a powerful worship service encouraging the conference attendees to be a catalyst for change in their church and communities. At the end of the worship service almost 200 youth accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior and while others rededicated their life to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

The last day of the conference ended with an inspirational commissioning service which charged the youth and youth ministers/leaders to be ‘the hands and feet of Jesus Christ’ in their church, school and community. Praise God for a wonderful, enriching and powerful conference.

IGNITE: Nathan Kang in Haiti

NOTE:  The following testimony by Nathan Kang (FBC, Trenton) was published on the IM website.  We have added it to ours with permission.  ABCNJ provided nathan with a scholarship for this mission.

Before coming on the IGNITE trip to Haiti, I have always asked myself, “What do I want to do with my life?”  Before I entered college, I finally settled on studying medicine to hopefully become a doctor.  I figured that it was worth the extra effort in school to live a comfortable life with a steady income, plus I was always interested in health and the human body.  However, I was still not completely satisfied with my career choice.  Throughout my first year in college, I quickly found out that medicine is a not an area of study I can simply cruise through.  To reach medical school truly takes devotion and motivation.  Because I seemed to lack these two things, my first year in college proved to be a drag academically.  I always questioned myself if this hard work was worth the comfortable life I sought after.  To what end was I putting in all my effort?  This question was on my mind as applied for the IGNITE trip to Haiti.  I did not think too highly of the opportunity, but I applied nonetheless thinking that no harm could be done by sending in the application.  However, after the IGNITE experience, I can say with confidence that this trip was something not to be taken lightly, for it gave me a clear vision as to what my calling in life is.

During our trip in Haiti, we stayed at the UCNH (Universete Chretienne du Nord d'Haiti) in Limbe.  This was where we met Dr. Steven James and his wife Nancy.  Dr. Steven is a missionary doctor in Limbe where he travels around to different clinics in the area to treat simple illnesses and ailments or to direct patients to a more specialized doctor.  Our team was given the amazing privilege to travel to the different clinics with Dr. Steve and experience a glimpse of the life of a missionary doctor.  While visiting various clinics, one thing I noticed in was Dr. Steve's relationship with all the patients.  When Dr. Steve and his patients would meet, they would greet each other like old friends and he would continue to treat his patients like friends during the entire meeting.  God's love seemed to radiate out of him with every patient he met.

Dr. Steve's lifestyle reflected his commitment and love for people, and it was this love that allowed him to give himself up for the sake of others.  Dr. Steve has a doctorate degree in family medicine.  He could easily be working in the United States and be receiving a hefty pay while living a comfortable life.  Instead, he gave this up and came to Haiti where he receives money only through the donations of churches and organizations.  He spent all those hard years in school studying not so that he could fulfill his own aesthetic pleasures, but so that he could use his skills to help others in need.  Dr. Steve's sacrifice for the people of Haiti pulled me out of my own swamp of being unsure about what to do with my life.  It instilled me a new passion as to why I want to study medicine.  I want to study so I can be a servant and expand the Kingdom of God.  Many times, people have told me that I need to live for something bigger than myself, that I need to live for Christ.  However, before the trip to Haiti, I was never really able to comprehend what these words meant.  Now, after I have spent time with Dr. Steve, who truly showed me what it means to give up oneself for others, I understand a little bit more of my calling in life.  I want to become the servant that God called me to be.

Ecumenical Leadership Opportunity for Young Adults

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The New Jersey Council of Churches is creating a new Youth/Young Adults Working Group.  The group will address some of the ongoing complex issues facing young adults in our society. Members should be between 18-25 years old so that they will be personally familiar with the key issues and challenges older teens and young adults are dealing with.

ABCNJ has been asked to appoint 2 representatives to this Working Group.  If you are personally interested in joining this group or would like to nominate a young adult from your ABCNJ church, please email Dr. Lee Spitzer (lspitzer@abcnj.net) by February 5, 2012.  The initial meeting of the Working Group is set for March 21, 2012.