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    Youth for Jesus Has Impact on Fort Worth—and ASI Youth

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    Youth for Jesus Has Impact on Fort Worth—and ASI Youth

    Post by ManOfPeace on August 20th 2012, 1:31 pm

    Youth for Jesus Has Impact
    on Fort Worth—and ASI Youth

    Month-long campaign expected to conclude during convention (Posted Aug. 9, 2012)

    BY CONNA BOND, communication director, ASI

    ASI’s Youth for Jesus (YFJ), a month-long annual evangelism program run almost entirely by Seventh-day Adventist youth in their late teens and early 20s, set up camp this year in the Fort Worth, Texas, area. Working from temporary headquarters at Fort Worth Junior Academy, the 33 youth and eight young evangelists held five different evangelistic series, building on the efforts of a team of Bible workers who came before them. This year’s participants, ages 15 to 19, represented 14 states and two countries.

    The meetings began July 11 and were expected to run through August 3, followed by a program-wide baptism on August 4 at the Fort Worth Seventh-day Adventist Church. YFJ teams held meetings at the Mansfield, Northwest Fort Worth, Crowley, and Fort Worth First Seventh-day Adventist churches.

    Fifteen participants from the National Association for the Prevention of Starvation (NAPS), a nonprofit volunteer relief organization out of Oakwood University, joined the ASI youth group. NAPS volunteers generally are college students who commit a year of their lives to serve their organization. NAPS sends a team each year to join YFJ. This year’s NAPS team presented an evangelistic series at the Grace Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church, and worked on several community service projects.

    YFJ involves youth in hands-on evangelism and community service projects, as well as providing them with practical and spiritual training on a variety of topics. This year they learned Bible study basics from Scott Moore, who serves as director of the Lay Institute for Evangelism (LIFE) and leader of the YFJ program. They also learned about hermeneutics from Dwayne Lemon, and about the lurking dangers of media and entertainment from Scott Mayer of Little Light Ministries.

    The YFJ youth were challenged to reach out and share their faith wherever they are, regardless of the circumstances. Kelsey Unruh, a YFJer from Tennessee, was part of a group that passed out sandwiches, water, and Bibles in downtown Fort Worth one day when a man asked about the group’s beliefs.

    “I was speechless at first, but soon someone in my group began telling him about the choice that we have to sin or to serve God,” she said. “Now, I cannot say that this man was right there on the spot convicted. But this experience taught me a lesson. Any day, at any place or time, I could be confronted with someone who questions my faith. . . . Will I be able to stand up for Jesus? Do I have His Word hidden in my heart?”

    Even at the Laundromat they looked for opportunities to share.

    “As we were washing our clothes, a young man was [there], and I started a conversation with him and invited him to the meetings,” shared Stephen Blanchard, also from Tennessee. “So at that moment he texted his wife and told her about the meetings. I was so happy. First, because it was my first time personally inviting someone to the meetings, and second, because [he] accepted to go. . . . I am so excited to go out and share the gospel with everyone.”

    The YFJ program has been running since 1999, when ASI’s then-vice president for evangelism Kim Busl was asked to take on youth programming for the annual ASI convention in Orlando, Florida. He told ASI leaders, “I’ve never worked with youth before, but if you want me to, I’ll do it. But I’m not going to entertain them. I’m going to get them involved in ministry.”

    Not everyone thought it was a good idea, and no one—not even Busl—anticipated much success. That first year they coordinated an evangelistic series in a rented, air-conditioned tent set up on the campus of Forest Lake Academy in Orlando, Florida. The YFJ kids did most of the work, and a young David Asscherick was brought in to do the preaching.

    That effort turned out to be the most successful evangelistic series in the history of the Florida Conference to that point, with more than 500 people showing up every night to hear the good news and 114 baptisms at the end. They had even greater success the following year in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where they planted a church with the newly baptized members.

    Later an ASI board member ap-
proached Busl and said, “I’m glad you proved us wrong. I was one of the ones who spoke and voted against the YFJ program.”

    Busl responded, “I didn’t prove you wrong. The Lord did this. It was God working.”

    YFJ has continued each year since, usually working in the city where that year’s ASI convention is held. This year the convention venue was changed from Dallas, Texas, to Cincinnati, Ohio, but the wheels were already turning for YFJ in Texas when the change was made, so they remained in Texas and focused their efforts in Fort Worth churches that had already opened their doors to evangelism by youth.


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