“Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccles. 12:13). Although there are a myriad of aspects of living a God-glorifying life, our summarized “marching orders” can actually be stated pretty simply. The theme of this year’s RYS International Convention was “Mission Possible,” and attendees were certainly encouraged with the truth of a possible and blessed mission from our Lord.
Held on July 22–26 at Northwestern University in St. Paul, Minnesota, RYS’s 2013 convention was attended by more than eight hundred young people, speakers, chaperones, and staff. The gathering is a highlight of the year for the groups that attend, and another meaningful and exhilarating week was enjoyed by all.
Rev. Greg Lubbers of Byron Center, Michigan, and Rev. Bill Boekestein of Carbondale, Pennsylvania, were the two keynote speakers for the week. Five main sessions were held, and the main speakers examined concepts stemming from the theme verses: “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him“ (2 Tim. 2:3–4).
Topical sessions, or workshops, were also held throughout the week with smaller groups of students. Eleven speakers led a variety of talks on wide-ranging topics such as patience, maturity, depression, idolatry, and witnessing. It was amazing to see how these excellent, spiritually nourishing workshops tied back to the week’s theme: fighting the good fight. SON-rise (morning devotions with a mix of young ladies or young men from various churches) and SON-set (evening devotions with attendees’ home youth group) times were held every day. These are wonderful times for reenforcement of the day’s messages through discussion.
Also woven in to the week was plenty of free time to enjoy a variety of activities around the beautiful and sizable campus. There was plenty to occupy everyone with pickup games of soccer, basketball, and volleyball tournaments; Bible Jeopardy; Ultimate Frisbee; lawn games; or just hanging out and talking with new and old friends. Conventioneers also were treated to an amazing talent show on Thursday night.
The day away this year featured a visit to the large Valleyfair Amusement Park, which was about forty minutes from campus. The park’s roller coasters, carnival style rides, and water park provided a lot of fun for the group, and we kept very busy trying as many attractions as possible.
All good things must come to an end, and Friday, signaling the end of RYS, came all too quickly for the conventioneers. The acute feeling of warm fellowship with a large group of like-minded believers is awesome, but even more, the spiritual recharge and growth found at the RYS convention is tremendous. God’s gracious blessing of the RYS convention this year was again very evident. Attendees departed motivated to fulfill our Christian mission with God’s help. “The battle is the Lord’s” (1 Sam. 17:47), and RYS 2013 thoroughly encouraged the young people of the church to joyfully take their place in the ranks.
Anne Karsten is a member of the Young People’s Society at the Grace Reformed Church in Waupun, Wisconsin