RYS National Youth Convention 2003
By Ed DeGraaf Director of Reformed Youth Services
Reformed Youth Services held its third annual national youth convention July 28–August 1 at Lake Williamson Christian Center in Carlinville, Illinois. Approximately 415 young people, adult sponsors, staff and speakers attended the weeklong event. A total of 35 member churches participated. About 85% of those attending were members of the United Reformed Church, with a sizable minority also coming from the Christian Reformed Church.
This year’s convention theme of “Fishers of Men” was clearly communicated by Rev. C.J. Den Dulk of Trinity CRC in Sparta, Michigan and Rev. Jason Tuinstra of Community United Reformed Church in Schererville, Indiana. The two pastors challenged their youthful audience to return home and take advantage of opportunities to witness at home, school, and at their jobs. We believe that the Lord graciously blessed their words, as the following comments by a first-time adult sponsor was typical of the feedback we received:
“Our group felt so spiritually blessed by the ministers who took their time to teach at the (convention). We were so uplifted. All of the kids want to continue coming as they were fed such spiritual food and qualities of righteousness. We were challenged not only to be disciples but also to disciple others for God’s Kingdom. We were so thankful to be part of such a group of godly young men and women who honored the name of Christ in their actions. It was such a blessing!”
Another sponsor said “We appreciated the enthusiasm of the main speakers and their message. God was truly glorified through this week.”
The young people echoed those sentiments. One exclaimed “What an awesome spiritual experience! I had a wonderful time last year with RYS. I’m going to a non-Christian college this fall and this week is going to help me prepare for evangelizing.”
Another student remarked that “It is such a blessing to go to these conventions. It has been an awesome experience!”
Ten workshops related to the main theme were also offered to the convention participants, who attended five of their choice. Some of the best attended workshops included “Actions Speak Louder Than Words” by Rip Pratt, a youth and family pastor at Bethel CRC in Dallas, Texas; “For Your Eyes Only” by Rev. Phil Grotenhuis, pastor of Lynden URC in Lynden, Washington; and “Follow Him” by Dr. John Sittema, associate pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Other featured workshop topics were God’s sovereignty, witnessing, evangelism, careers, speech, and priorities.
Just like the main sessions, the workshops impacted the young people. One remarked that “the workshops were wonderful and very applicable to my life.”
The teens also attended morning devotional sessions led by adult sponsors. This material was written by Rev. Den Dulk and Rev. Tuinstra and also related to the week’s theme. The leaders and students ended the day by meeting together in their respective church youth groups to talk about the day’s activities and lessons.
Another highlight of the convention was the opportunity to enjoy the large lake and water-park atmosphere at Lake Williamson. Students were required to wear modest one-piece bathing suits in keeping with the convention’s dress code. Many young people also participated in our usual three on three basketball and volleyball tournaments, as well as soccer and other outdoor activities.
Thanks should be given to the large and very competent volunteer committee that used their myriad of talents to put on this convention. To God be
the glory! We were also blessed with wonderful weather, facilities and traveling mercies, for which we thank God.
Next year’s convention will be held, Lord willing, July 26-30, 2004 at Biola University in LaMirada, California (about a half hour away from Los Angeles). Registration brochures will be mailed out to our member churches by the end of the year. For more information about RYS or the convention, please contact RYS Director Ed DeGraaf at firstname.lastname@example.org or (616) 667-0694.
RYS National Youth Convention
by Mary McNinch Covenant URC Kalamazoo, Michigan
The RYS National Youth Convention was held at Lake Williamson Christian Center in Illinois. The theme was “Fishers of Men”, taken from
Mark 1:17, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The retreat was a time for reformed youth from around our nation to come together to grow in our faith, have fellowship with other believers, and to worship God. Our main speakers were Rev. C. J. Den Dulk of Trinity Christian Reformed Church in Sparta, Michigan and Rev. W. Jason Tuinstra of Community United Reformed Church in Schererville, Indiana. They both addressed the theme of the convention wonderfully as did the ten other workshop leaders.
By the end of our five day convention, we learned how to become fishers of men through discipleship and how to trust God in His will for our lives. We met many new Christian friends and also had a great time learning more about our God.
The 2003 RYS Convention was a good time for the youth and sponsors alike. We will look forward to next year as a time to reconnect with friends and another opportunity to strengthen our faith.
LOGOS Young Adults Conference held by RYS
By Ed DeGraaf Director of Reformed Youth Services
Reformed Youth Services held its 12th post-high singles event since 1998 this past August at the Green Lake Conference Center in eastern Wisconsin.
The LOGOS conferences and winter retreats are open to all 18-28 year-old single young adults. The summer conferences feature a main speaker and related workshops, while the retreats concentrate on a single theme and feature one speaker.
In the past six years more than 450 post-high singles have attended the RYS LOGOS events, which are held in midwest United States. Topics that have been covered by our speakers include reformed evangelism, discipleship, apologetics, and Christian worldview.
This year’s conference explored the theme of “Living a Life of Grace.” Rev. Brian Vos, pastor of Trinity United Reformed Church in Caledonia, Michigan, was the main speaker. Rev. Vos emphasized that a Christ-centered approach to the Scriptures was the key to living a life of grace as citizens of heaven now on earth.
“It was a great message that was extremely applicable to my life. Very scriptural and easy to relate to,” remarked one young adult about Rev. Vos’ presentations.
“Wonderful! He opened my eyes to the Scriptures and truth. I am so glad I came! I’ve learned so much valuable information. Thank you for providing this event!” said another.
The attendees also benefited from three workshops: “Pursuing Peace
& Practicing Forgiveness” by Rev. Todd Joling of Faith URC in Beecher, IL; “Grace in the Face of Faith” by Rick Poll of Dutton URC in Dutton, MI; and “Not Hoping and Scoping” by Rev. Bob VanManen of Little Farms OPC in Marne, MI.
Some of the other comments received from this year’s evaluation forms included:
- “Excellent messages. Applicable to all parts of our lives. Really gave myself (and others) a desire to hear the truth.”
- “Sessions and workshops were fantastic! I was spiritually challenged and uplifted throughout the conference. It was also a pile of fun and I really enjoyed and appreciated the Christian fellowship.”
- “I was presented with a lot of things to think about and that’s what I needed.”
We at RYS praise God for such gracious words of encouragement (a small, servant-minded committee of young adults ably assisted RYS). To Him be all the glory! The next LOGOS event is scheduled to take place January 1–3, 2004 (beginning the evening of the holiday), Lord willing, at the Shalom Retreat Center in Dubuque, Iowa.