Europe’s Adventist Youth Help “Clear the Air” During Congress
Seventh-day Adventist young people helped clear the air this week in Novi Sad’s Liberty Square, where they asked passersby to trade their cigarettes for watermelon and other fresh fruit on a warm summer day.
Benjamin Zihlman and Reimo Butscher from Switzerland expressed surprise when most of the residents were willing to swap not just their lit cigarettes, but their entire pack of cigarettes. Others went further, indicating a desire to quit smoking altogether and exchanging contact information with the young volunteers.
Zihlman and Butscher plan to keep in touch with one couple through Facebook, where they’ll offer ongoing support in their efforts to quit smoking.
The outreach event was one of six community-wide activities undertaken by young people in Serbia’s second-largest city in early August for the “Power of One” Pan-European Youth Congress. Adventist youth also cleared rubbish along the banks of the Danube River, repainted playground equipment at local elementary schools, and donated blood. Other young people handed out gift bags full of such books as Gifted Hands, by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, a Seventh-day Adventist.
“It is a privilege to watch our young people take the ‘Power of One’ to the people through practical Christianity and sharing the gospel,” said Janos Kovacs-Biro, director for evangelism for the Adventist Church’s Trans-European Division.
Back at the SPENS Sports Center, after helping passersby confront addiction, young people heard a message on facing their own struggles during a devotional by Adventist evangelist David Asscherick.
Asscherick reminded an audience of some 3,000 Adventist youth that growing in Christ is “a walk, not a leap. It takes time.”
“So many of us have been told that struggle is wrong, but if you struggle in your Christian experience, if you’re finding it hard to learn how to walk with Christ, that means you’re swimming against . . . the inclinations of the world,” Asscherick said, adding that the key to Christian growth is “to keep getting up.”
Matthew Gamble, pastor of the Elmshaven Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Helena, California, built on Asscherick’s message of spiritual growth.
“Some people believe they need to get over sin to be accepted by Christ. This is not the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is this: You’re going to heaven because of what Christ has done, what he is still doing, and what he will continue to do.”
Asscherick and Gamble were both on hand to lead some of 17 workshops during the congress. In “The Mission Lifestyle” Asscherick outlined the importance of guarding both spiritual and physical health while leading a Christ-centered, mission-focused life.
“This was a life-changing message for me,” said Elycia Martins from Australia.
Martins wasn’t the only young person to travel to the continent for the congress. Two visitors from Papua New Guinea logged 87 travel hours and passed through seven countries on their way. All in all, 45 European countries were represented at the congress.
“If this congress has been the motivation for [young people] to either find Christ or to continue in this mission, I think it has achieved its main goal,” said Stephan Sigg, director of youth ministries for the church’s Inter-European Division.