Western Youth Institute – the Uprising begins

“For some young people, these events are an annual pilgrimage where they come, have fun, renew or begin friendships, learn and meet with God. For others it is a refuge from the storms of life.”

by Lisa R. Smith, Captain – 

“An army that doesn’t march is no army at all. And a soldier who doesn’t fight is no soldier at all!”

These words, spoken by Michael Collins, associate pastor of the Cariboo Hill Corps in British Columbia, set the tone for the week as 142 delegates gathered on the opening night of the Western Youth Institute (WYI). The words served as a wake-up call that kicked off a whole week of “in-your-face” challenges for delegates to join “the Uprising” by living a revolutionary Christian lifestyle.

Each morning young Salvationist revolutionaries gathered for worship led by Mark Hood (Praiseworks! Outpost, Calif.) and a Bible study presented by Sharon and Steve Bussey, of the Eastern Territory’s Project 117. Delegates were taught from scripture what a revolutionary life in Christ looks like, and the content of the five days of study was summed up in a 15-point manifesto that delegates were asked to consider and commit to.

Each day after Bible study and prayer, delegates attended classes for instruction in one of three areas: Evangelism, Discipleship or Youth Leadership training. Each afternoon the camp was filled with the noise of delegates enthusiastically engaged in their Creative Ministries classes where they improved their skills in the areas of dance, drama, writing, music, gospel magic, technical media and visual arts.

A variety of evening programs capped off each day in a profound way. On Tuesday night, Fulton Hawk presented a message on service, culminating in a call for delegates to put their decision to serve into action immediately by responding to different avenues of service offered, including overseas missions, regular tithing, overseas child sponsorship and officership.

Wednesday evening the young men and women split off into their own evening sessions; Thursday provided an opportunity for delegates to share their talents.

A highlight of the week for many of the delegates was Friday evening’s concert of prayer. It began with a session of “Praying the Bible” as the whole of WYI marched around the chapel reading different passages of scripture out loud, using it to guide their thoughts in prayer. Delegates then spread out individually, visiting different stations around the building to spend time in prayer as guided by the Holy Spirit. There were a variety of prayer topics and related prayer activities at each of the 17 stations, which included direction to pray for others, including overseas missions, the “forgotten” orphan and foster children, The Salvation Army, social justice issues and current world events. Other stations guided prayer towards one’s own spiritual journey, focusing in on the sacrifice of Christ, sexual purity issues, relationships, spiritual growth, the release of burdens, family issues, and confession of sin.

Delegate Angelina Reimers (Riverside, Calif.) explained the impact of the concert of prayer this way. “It was cool because I can really get busy in life in all those daily routines and forget to spend time in prayer. To spend over an hour praying for various, yet important, issues was awesome. I felt very refreshed afterwards.”

On Saturday, delegates headed out to San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz where they shared the love of Christ through one-on-one conversations and presentations of creative ministries they had prepared throughout the week. Gospel choir, hula, sacred dance, hip hop, drama, and more attracted the interest of those at the park and the message of Christ’s love was clearly presented.

Sunday morning brought the delegates together for a final time of worship and the sealing of their commitments. Lt. Colonels Donald and Debora Bell ended the camp by conducting a “commissioning” ceremony for those “young revolutionaries” who committed to go out from Camp Redwood Glen and live by the declaration they had signed.

How has WYI changed the lives of the delegates? A few weeks after the event, one delegate put it this way, “It totally made me look at myself truthfully—how I was consumed with myself and the things of this world. WYI refreshed my devotional life, which I now do daily instead of ‘whenever.’ WYI gave me some new ideas and set my desires to do what God wants me to, instead of what I want to do.”

are two of the best things that we do
for the young men and women of our territory. How do I
know? Because I have participated in both events over the
last couple of years and have seen peoples’ lives changed.
These discipleship, creative arts and music skill building camps help build up and encourage young Salvationists in their
Christian walk. For some young people, these events are an annual pilgrimage where they come, have fun, renew
or begin friendships, learn and meet with God. For others
it is a refuge from the storms of life.

Thank God for the staff that sacrifices their time and
vacation—and even puts their family life on hold—to
come and invest in the lives of not only the future but
present ‘movers and shakers’ of our territory. If you are
eligible to attend either one of these institutes and you want to make friends, get closer to God or be equipped for the
spiritual battle ground, make sure you make it a priority
to attend WYI or WMI or both next year.

Kyle Smith, Captain, Territorial Youth Secretary

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