It was a sad day on July 21 when we all climbed aboard our buses and prepared for the six-hour trip back to Michigan. Convention 2023 (July 17–21) had come to an end, and for me, it was my second convention and my last one. I was happy to discover that there was a lot more to Reformed Youth Services (RYS) than simply fellowship. Clearly God uses these conventions to help build us up spiritually as well as to meet like-minded young people. The theme this year was “But God . . .” taken from Ephesians 2:4–5. There were two main speakers this year: pastor Ken Anema, who teaches in the Divine Hope Seminary, and pastor Shaun Furniss, who is co-pastor at Sparta Christian Reformed Church.
Pastor Russel Herman did a workshop on “What’s Your Identity?” This workshop focused on how we as Christians, specifically Christian youth, find our identity in Christ. No matter what we do in life, no matter our career, our relationships, our interests, everything is secondary to our identity as a Christian; and if those sort of sub-identities contradict, then it isn’t a valid identity. You can’t be a Christian bank robber, for example. This theme of our identity was a recurring theme in many of the different workshops.
Another workshop I found beneficial was “Loving the Lord’s Day,” by Pastor Nuiver. Christians differ wildly on how they honor the Lord’s Day, some being stricter than others. Pastor Nuiver, however, gave us all many targets that we should aim for no matter what we do or don’t do on Sundays.
When you ask the RYS attendees what their favorite part is, you’ll get different answers. Many will point to the singing and music, which truly is amazing. There aren’t too many things better in life than hearing 800+ voices praising the Lord at the same time. The most common answer, however, would probably be the Day Away. This year the options were an amusement park and the Ark Encounter. I ended up at the Ark. We had a great time and were given many opportunities to fellowship with each other. The park has a large playground (yes, some of us played on the playground), a zoo featuring a zorse, a large gift shop filled with ark-related goodies, and, of course, the Ark itself. I left with a fresh appreciation for the massive size and bulk of what Noah built under God’s direction.
So yes, it was with some degree of sadness that we all got on the bus that would take us back to our homes. I look forward to the day when I can return to convention as a sponsor. I think every one of the attendees would encourage all of our young people to make every effort to participate. You won’t regret it!
Mr. Andrew Engelsma is a member of the Covenant URC in Kalamazoo, MI.