A “G’day, Mate” to you from 850 new young friends in Australia!
A “G’day, Mate” to you from 850 new young friends in Australia! Karen and I just returned from two weeks “down under” with some of Australia’s best and brightest. I had the privilege of preaching fourteen times at two identical four-day Adventist Youth Conference (AYC) events in Melbourne and then in Sydney. And while we returned jet-lagged from the sixteen hour time change, we came home energized. And let me tell you why.
I’ve never seen so many young adults and youth turned on to God’s passion to save lost people as we did at these two AYC events. From the Thursday evening opening to the Sunday afternoon closing, both conferences were woven with young adult testimonies of witnessing for Christ experiences (in the dominantly secular Australian culture). Over and over, the kids up front described how just a year ago (at the previous AYC event) they had been frightened at the very thought of going door to door to take spiritual interest surveys from total strangers. But swallowing their fears, they had indeed gone out—and now they were coming back “rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves!” Literally. Because standing beside many of these young adult “testifiers” were the newly baptized “strangers” they had met and won to Christ, by going door to door. It was electric!
And it was persuasive. Johnny Wong—who used to be the Asia-Pacific head of Oracle, the world’s largest enterprise software company, and who is the founder of the AYC movement in Australia and the visionary behind the Gateway S.D.A. Church plants in both Melbourne and Sydney (eighty percent of his church plant members are under the age of 30!)—listened to the “Primetime” sermon series at our website and asked me to present those teachings at these conferences. He was very clear with all of us who were preaching that they wanted decisions from the attendees both for baptism and for becoming Bible workers (a term they use to describe young adults who take a hiatus from their university studies or from their jobs in order to do evangelism in the city around one of the church plants). I was asked to make two major appeals for Sabbath and Sunday, and I was impressed to add a third appeal at the Friday night service. Just before I walked onto the platform to preach the final service this past Sunday afternoon, Johnny shared with me that before that final appeal 78 decisions had already been made for baptism and rebaptism at both venues (with all the preachers). He also gave me the number for those who had made commitments to become Bible workers—but I must confess that I was so surprised at the 78 baptisms and rebaptism that I missed it!
But I shouldn’t have been surprised. Because there was prayer cover back here at home unlike any recent preaching trip I’ve been on. I’m convinced that the response to the appeals reflects the power of intercessory praying—and I thank God for your prayer partnership. The Friday evening sermon invited the young to begin praying for the salvation of five lost people they knew. Afterwards some of them told us that individuals they had written down that very evening made decisions for baptism within the next 24 hours. The power of intercessory praying! But I also believe the response reflects the power of personal testimony. After those young “testifiers” were through, I, too, was ready to jump to my feet and pledge my life in active partnership with God and his passion to save lost people. For I am convinced there is no greater joy than leading a lost person to the Savior.
In Australia we witnessed the dramatic fulfillment of God’s promise, “Those who continually go forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them” (Psalm 126:6). And since that’s a promise the works both “down under” and “up over”—I say let’s join them!