Reformed Youth Services hosted yet another wonderful convention this year. The theme was “Be Less.” Philippians 2:3 (ESV) talks about this: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” So, 775 Reformed teens and their sponsors gathered to learn how to apply this verse to their daily lives during a week of refining sessions, informative workshops, and renewing fellowship with like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ.
Each morning the RYS convention starts with a session led by two pastors. This year Rev. Russell Herman and Rev. Breno Macedo navigated us through our theme, teaching us we must first be born again, having a faith that is true in our heart and not just an outward faith. The Spirit must regenerate us. Second, we learned Jesus must be lifted up. He must increase; we must decrease (John 3:30). Rev. Herman made clear what Scripture says concerning everything we have, being received from God by grace alone. We are to live that way, not to boast (John 3:27; 1 Cor. 4:7). We must make little of ourselves and much of our Almighty God. We want the world to see Jesus and proclaim God’s glory above all else. That is what stuck out to me the most out of each session I attended.
After learning from the main sessions, we were given the opportunity to attend five workshops full of wonderful information about the truths of God’s Word. Workshop topics included things like “The Upside Down Life,” where we exposed the error in our culture constantly pressuring us to look inward to “discover who we are.” Another practical workshop that has really stuck with me since attending was titled “Spending Time with a God We Can’t See.” Rev. Amena gave us practical tips and resources for participating in spiritual warfare, which consisted of spending time in the gospel and in prayer. He also provided us with a sort of trouble-shooting guide to help us identify what is keeping us from the Word and prayer and how to fix it.
In addition to the intense workshops we attended that week, the most amazing part to me was the fellowship with 775 like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ. Twice a day all the convention attendees were led in the singing of beautiful traditional songs from the URCNA’s Trinity Psalter as we sang boldy together and then a capella. The experience of hundreds of voices being brought to tears, lifting up the name of the Most Holy and praiseworthy God is almost indescribable. “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” (Ps. 95:1–2). That we did! How I love my family in Christ!
Along with singing, after sessions there were plenty of opportunities to make friends. My personal favorite strategy: playing board games and inviting passersby to join in. It worked! Lots of laughter and good memories came from that. Even the sponsors played with us. My new favorite sentence that I have uttered countless times since getting home from convention is “The Lord changed me to an extrovert!” I have been talking with God for a while about working toward becoming more outgoing and less nervous about different situations. It was during RYS week that I saw the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s constant work in me. He really does transform us! This allowed me to connect and have deeper, more personal conversations with the new friends I made at convention.
At the end of the week we were tired but renewed and refreshed with practical biblical applications for our lives. After some tough good-byes to friends, hugs, signing each other’s convention shirts, and saying, “If I don’t see you next RYS, see you in heaven!” we parted ways. The RYS 2022 convention was a success. We had begun working on “Being Less,” applying Philippians 2:3 to our lives. I’m so thankful for the opportunity I had to attend this convention, learning from gifted pastors and hearing God speak through them. The information they shared will be applicable and remembered throughout my life.
Miss Fiona Phillips is sixteen and attends Phoenix United Reformed Church in Arizona. She and her six siblings are homeschooled by their mother.