“This is how we know what love is…”
Western Youth Institute delegates find true love.
by Chris Toy
Love was the theme uniting 166 Western Territory delegates, aged 16-25, at this year’s Western Youth Institute (WYI), Aug. 7-13, 2010, at Camp Arnold in Eatonville, Wash. Leading the institute were Territorial Youth Leaders Majors Ivan and Jennifer Wild and Youth Development and Leadership Director Jim Sparks.
Territorial leaders Commissioner James and Carolyn Knaggs participated, along with Territorial Secretary for Personnel Lt. Colonel Dave Hudson.
Reflecting on the theme verse, This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us… (1 John 3:16)—youth learned about God’s pure love, how to claim that love, how to distinguish true love from the world’s false love, and finally how to share God’s love.
Four main workshops covered leadership, evangelism/discipleship, team building and a video class. Electives included photography, guitar, set design, scrap booking, video production, worship design, hula, media critical studies, finance studies, crafting, radio show, story telling, print making and sound production. Videos from the main workshops can be viewed at saynetwork.com/WYI10Videos.
Accepting God’s love
Leaders challenged attendees to a deeper commitment to God. In her testimony, Commissioner Carolyn Knaggs spoke of being ready to share God’s love in times of gain or loss; Commissioner James Knaggs, in his message, reminded all that there are times when we need to give it up to the Lord, knowing he alone can save us.
On the second night, Hudson explored the nature of God’s love: “It’s not about us. It’s not about what we’ve done to deserve his love. Sometimes we feel unlovable but that just means our focus is wrong. God doesn’t always make sense to us because God is not human.”
Letting go of whatever stands between us and God’s love is necessary—we must accept his love in order to share it with others.
The third night focused on false love and the devastating effects of pornography. Jake Larson, from the XXXChurch, spoke on pornography addiction and his passion to free people from its hold. He message is one of hope: “If you surrender your life to Christ asking for forgiveness, he will take you. You can’t make God love you any more and you can’t make him love you any less.”
Testimonies and Outreach
Campers testified to the revelation of God’s love. One said, “I was done trying to take control of my life. The more I tried to take control, the more I lost control.” Another said, “How are you going to feed other people spiritually when you’re running on empty?”
On the final full day of camp, delegates conducted outreach; some groups went to local corps, others went to downtown Seattle and the Seattle White Center to witness and pray with people. One group went to the Puget Creek Restoration to clean up and pull weeds.
At the final banquet, art projects completed that week were sold at auction, with all proceeds going to Bangladesh to aid in the fight against sex trafficking. With a total of $800, Wild asked people to dig deeper and make it an even $1,000; eventually the total reached $1,300.
Delegates left WYI refreshed, armed with new knowledge and the hope of a risen savior—free to live for God in hope and most importantly, love.
Read the WYI blog and view pictures and video at saynetwork.com/love.
Before WYI, my spirit was dry and thirsty. I knew I had to make a change in my life—I needed something to replenish my empty spirit.
So I signed up for WYI, knowing it would change me because I went with an open heart, ready to receive anything the Lord had in store for me.
Tuesday’s speaker was Captain Terry Masango. The Lord spoke through him directly to me.
When he said, “You’re in the church, but the church is not in you,” I knew that was about me. He also said, “If you can’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” This was true—I had no stand in my faith; therefore, I was weak and confused. He went on to tell us that the Lord sacrificed his Son for us so that we could live in his love. The Lord was continually searching for me, calling for me to come back home, earnestly telling me that he loves me.
For the first time in years I experienced God’s love again—what an amazing feeling to realize that my imperfect self is loved by someone who will never give up on me, who gave up his life so that I can live mine. His presence fills my soul and I’ve come back home ready to show the love that the Lord shared with me.
No one said the Christian life was going to be easy, but the beauty of it is that the Lord just keeps on overflowing us with love. His love protects us, brings us truth, gives us hope, and encourages us to persevere.
His love never fails (1 Cor. 13:4-8a).