Stay committed to God, Carson tells Adventist youth
Renowned surgeon joins world church president at South Africa event
By Ansel Oliver, Adventist News Network, reporting from Atteridgeville, Gauteng, South Africa
Renowned brain surgeon Dr. Ben Carson implored Seventh-day Adventist youth to exercise their willpower and remain committed to God in a series of three addresses to the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s world youth conference.
Carson served for more than two and a half decades as chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, and was a key presenter at Impact South Africa. The event attracted more than 3,100 Adventist youth and young adults from around the globe for two weeks of community service, workshops, and worship.
“God has given each one of us something that is extraordinarily special. It’s called willpower. You don’t have to give in,” Carson said of things than can divert young people from realizing their full potential.
During the July 13, 2013, Sabbath worship service Carson also recounted his experiences in becoming a neurosurgeon, as told in his book Gifted Hands. He credited God for allowing him to make an impact through his career, despite it turning out differently than his childhood ambition of becoming a missionary doctor.
“Never get too big for God, never deny God, no matter where He takes you, no matter what roles you’re in,” Carson said. “If you put Him first in your life, you will be extraordinarily successful.”
In the audience, Argentinian Ezequiel Durán, 26, said Carson’s speeches were some of the conference’s highlights for him. “He is a good leader and example for young people. He dedicated his whole life to God. I like that.”
Carson and other presenters spoke to an audience of more than 18,000—youth conference attendees and community members—at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium in this Pretoria suburb.
In a sermon, Pastor Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, similarly affirmed youth and urged them to continue carrying out the church’s mission.
“We love you, and we’re counting on you for the future,” Wilson said. “Impact your city. Impact your country. My brothers and sisters, impact the world for Jesus Christ!”
Indeed, Shereen Rodney, 24, from the United Kingdom, said she came to the conference for the community service work that some 1,000 attendees gave during the conference’s first week. In a stadium seat, she said, “We’re looking to replicate some of these things when we go back home. It’s going to be like a chain reaction.”
Gilbert Cangy, director of the Adventist Church’s Youth Ministries and organizer of the conference, said the event successfully integrated youth from around the world as a family of faith.
“We truly embraced diversity at this event,” Cangy said. “There was a place at this conference for everyone—from every country, from every culture.”
Celina Sunder Singh, 20, from India, said the conference offered her the chance to meet new people in a supportive environment. “It’s nice to know so many people who have the same faith as you, and learning a few words in every language was fun,” she said. “My favorite was Spanish.”
Following the morning service, dozens of attendees traveled throughout nearby neighborhoods to distribute 20,000 copies of the book The Great Hope. The book is an abbreviated version of Adventist Church cofounder Ellen G. White’s touchstone book, The Great Controversy.
That evening, back at the conference’s base at the Saint George Hotel and Convention Centre, a report was given from the final of the denomination’s 13 world divisions. Each regional administration presented throughout the week, with colorful national garb and video reports.
Cangy also thanked his team of organizers, who helped coordinate everything from service projects and workshops to producing evening worship services that featured music and preaching by evangelist David Asscherick.
“By God’s grace we’re finishing well,” Cangy said. “We give God all the glory, and we’re grateful for His gracious spirit.”
Adventist World associate editor Lael Caesar also attended the world youth congress in Pretoria. Read his blog dispatches online at http://bit.ly/16Gx14u. —Editors