2021’s Western Youth Institute goes ‘Lite,’ tune into week 4 virtually

This August, youth from across the West have been gathering on Fridays, whether online or in small local groups, to attend WYI Lite in community. This is the fourth and final session.

Part four of four, see part three here.

The fourth and final week of Western Youth Institute Lite (WYI Lite)—the Territorial Youth Department’s online retreat for young adults—focused on how God’s people are called to be the light in an often dark world, with Chief Secretary Colonel Kelly Igleheart bringing the message. The meeting also included a segment of WYI News, an explanation of the Holy Spirit, and a time of praise and worship.

This year, WYI Lite meetings took place every Friday in August via the Saynetwork Facebook page and YouTube, and are available for groups to download. Previous featured speakers include Territorial Program Secretary Lt. Colonel Lisa Smith, Territorial Candidates’ Secretary Captain Jennifer Masango and Territorial Youth Secretary Captain Emmanuel Masango.

Week 4’s opening Scripture was from Acts 2: 42–47, The Fellowship of the Believers: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Here is Kelly Igleheart’s message along with follow-up small group questions and a prayer exercise.

WYI Lite Week 4: Message

Hello friends and welcome to the fourth episode of WYI. We’re so excited to have you join us today and there’s much to be said about the avenues and expectations that you’ve been experiencing over the past three episodes. I know that you’ve been talking about being the light of the world. I know that you’ve been talking about and learning about being community and light in your communities, and today’s episode is no different. I’d like to first of all just express my appreciation to the Territorial Youth Department, which has worked so hard and been diligent at recording these episodes and getting them out to you. So as you have opportunity, please just express your appreciation to them as well.

When I think about community and I think about being a light of the world, there’s no better opportunity when you look into God’s Word than Acts the second chapter. It’s a beautiful expression of the early church in the communities not that much different, maybe, than the ones you serve in.

If you have your Bibles I want to invite you to open to Acts chapter 2. I’m going to be reading from The Voice version so join me as we listen and hear the Word of God.

The community continually committed themselves to learning what the apostles taught them, gathering for fellowship, breaking bread, and praying. Everyone felt a sense of awe because the apostles were doing many signs and wonders among them. There was an intense sense of togetherness among all who believed; they shared all their material possessions in trust. They sold any possessions and goods that did not benefit the community and used the money to help everyone in need. They were unified as they worshipped at the temple day after day. In homes, they broke bread and shared meals with glad and generous hearts. The new disciples praised God, and they enjoyed the goodwill of all the people of the city. Day after day the Lord added to their number everyone who was experiencing liberation (vv 42–47).

What a beautiful story of God’s people living in community, becoming light in the community. Two thousand years ago who would have ever thought, perhaps, that those few people gathered would change the world. 

So, Acts Chapter 2 world changers. I know some world changers. When Donna and I were living in South Africa, we toured one day in KwaZulu-Natal, which is an estate in the middle of South Africa. In this very rural community, the story is that there was a large farm stationed there and a farmer needed a lot of help, and so he had brought in people from all over that community and for a number of years they loved and worked in harmony. The fields were beautiful, ripe harvest. It was maybe the best of times.

Then something infiltrated the small group of farmers and before long the farmer, the main farmer, began noticing that the crops were going untreated. Sometimes when it was time for harvest there was fruit still left on the trees, and as he began looking a little deeper into that he began realizing that the farmers, the people that he was working with, those who labored, had begun having parties. They had begun drinking and just things that were undermining the effectiveness of that particular farm. Well, the farmer really didn’t know what to do with that but he had heard about The Salvation Army and so he reached out to The Salvation Army and you wouldn’t believe what happened next.

A group of Salvationists, people who were in community, people who were the light of their community, took on the challenge to move to this rural area—it was about 2,000 acres—and there they embedded themselves with the laborers, those who had kind of gotten off track, and before long these infectious Salvationists began turning that whole community around just because of their living. Well, the farmer was ecstatic about that, and years of happiness and bliss went by and the farm actually grew past that, but one day that farmer, he passed away and unbeknownst to The Salvation Army and those people who lived in that community—you won’t believe—he willed that entire farm to The Salvation Army. In his will the thing that he noted was because of the influence of that community of people who embedded themselves into a community of people who were lost and without hope, they turned that farm completely around.

Today, if you were to drive up on that farm with me, you’d see a hospital, you’d find a school, a place where children are housed to go to that school. You’d find a big corps that can seat two or three hundred people, and you would find a clinic there to take care of the people. So all these years later The Salvation Army and its impact have made all the difference. It’s amazing what living in community and being a light of the world can do. 

World changers, that’s what we’re talking about today—the Acts Chapter 2, those young people in church, they changed the world. What about KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa? A group of Salvationists who took up the call, went to a community and to a people they didn’t know, probably weren’t embraced readily, and then suddenly because of their faith and their living out of that faith, they changed that community.

I wonder today if you’d see yourself as a community changer. If you think back on Acts Chapter 2, how people shared meals together; they were in community together. The Bible says that they taught and learned the Word of God and they shared that Word of God with others, for those who didn’t know Jesus. They shared meals together, they had home times together where they loved and prayed and cared for each other. They sold their possessions if others had need.

They simply jettisoned those things that weren’t necessary. Now that takes a lot of faith, and I’m not so sure today that all of us are ready just to sell all of our possessions and move to Bolivia, but I wonder today if Christ is really calling you to that. Is he perhaps just calling you to the community that you live in, the community where people may know your name, the community where they see you and perhaps even judge you and your character by the things you say, places you go, the things you post, those types of things? 

I hope and pray today that when your community sees you they see a difference maker. And you what? You can make a difference in your community, maybe not just by yourself—you have a group of people at the corps, maybe some people in your school or maybe even in your own home who can just be out and influence, be an influencer for Christ in the communities where you live. 

So are the days gone that people aren’t any longer able to influence the world and be world changers? I don’t think so. I think today as I’m looking at you I  see world changers, and truth is this: The Salvation Army—we need you to be a world changer right in the communities where you live and love and serve.  May God bless you all and may God bless our Salvation Army.

WYI Lite Week 4: Reflection questions

  • How has your community shaped you?
  • What makes a healthy community and what part of that are you most drawn to?
  • What does it mean to be a light to your community?
  • What are ways you can be that light?
  • What is the Salvation Army’s role in your community?
  • Are you a community changer? For good? How so?
  • How can you change the world?

WYI Lite Week 4: Prayer exercise—Glowing

We are called to be light in a dark world. We reflect the light of God wherever we go, to those around us.

Have some paper, highlighters and black lights for this exercise. Highlighters glow under black light. Place the lights on whatever surface works for your group. Use highlighters to write words or draw ways you can be a light in the world. Pray for all those things others have written down, that those before you may shine light in the darkness.

For anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Eph. 5:14).

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