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WYI welcomes almost 200 young adults.

Western Youth Institute delegates [Photo by Chris Golden]

In August, 186 youth ages 16-25 converged upon Camp Arnold in Eatonville, Wash., for the 2009 Western Youth Institute (WYI).

All of the week’s activities—including the rotating tracks on team building, leadership, evangelism and discipleship—centered upon the theme, “Paradox.”

“With this theme we are looking to challenge youth into deepening their walk by looking at Christ’s life and the paradoxes in Scripture,” said Major Ivan Wild, Western Territorial youth secretary. “The whole idea is to go against what the world has to offer.”

The event’s speakers included Wild; Colonel William Harfoot, Western Territorial chief secretary; Michael Collins, a Canadian Salvationist who is the associate pastor at the Cariboo Hills Corps; and Craig Bowler, director of spiritual formation for Atlanta’s North Metro Church, who attended an Army camp as a kid. Eric Himes, the Central Territory’s director of young adult ministry, led the week’s music.

Workshops included set design, hula, hip hop writing, and creative writing, where delegate Mekyla Gomez wrote a poem entitled, “My God, My Father.” It reads in part: “You’ve given me strength to believe/You’ve given me the hope to see/That you are there no matter what/With the power to lift me up.

Evening programs offered times of testimony (a night dedicated to celebrating the Army’s vastness), times of self-discovery (exploring God’s call in your life led by Bowler), and a time of intense prayer (a night dedicated to prayer and praise).

This WYI also featured a celebrity look-alike quiz night and divisional group meetings, in the hopes of youth establishing local connections. The divisional groups gave the opportunity to pray, play and paint with each other.

The week led to an outreach blitz in the surrounding area. Delegates were split into brigades and sent off to do projects. Some delegates did manual labor work projects on farms alongside female prisoners, some blanketed the downtown Seattle area doing random acts of kindness and praying with people, and others attended local corps assisting with programs ranging from vacation Bible school to community care ministries.

Many lives were changed at the Western Youth Institute and many accepted Christ for the first time. Praise God!

WYI will be held again on August 7-13, 2010.

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