By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
LAFAYETTE (LBM) –The 2017 Youth Evangelism Celebration wrapped up its three-year run in Lafayette on a high note, seeing 1,081 students make decisions for Christ.
The annual event returns to its traditional home in Alexandria next year.
“YEC was truly a celebration of the past and present,” Louisiana Baptists Youth Ministry Strategist Steve Maltempti said. “The Lord continues to bless and propel YEC forward. Students and teenagers are engaged with the Gospel message.”
During the Nov. 19-20 gathering inside Lafayette’s Cajundome, 5,929 Louisiana Baptist students were challenged by evangelist Clayton King to share what Christ has done in their lives and to lean on God’s truth.
“The biggest lie is God doesn’t love you,” King told the students. “That’s a lie. God loves you. He loved you so much that He made a path for you to be saved.”
During all four sessions, King offered a chance for students to step forward and respond to the call of the Holy Spirit. He said simply knowing the truth of redemption through Christ does not set a person free but rather believing and making a decision.
“Every one of us is more lost than we ever dreamed but we are more loved than we can ever imagine,” he said. “God will never lie to you. Satan will lie to you for the rest of your life. God loves us so much He is willing to tell us when we are wrong.
“Jesus came to change the way it is, to give us all a brand new life and a brand new identity,” he continued. “And you get to choose which one you believe. You’ve got to do what He commands.”
By the end of the two-day spiritual encounter, 1,081 students had made some type of faith decision: 325 statements of belief, 212 responses to a call to ministry, 463 acts of repentance to restore fellowship with Christ and 81 other commitments.
King also charged the local churches that brought the students to disciple, baptize and encourage them.
The theme was “Now,” based on 2 Corinthians 6:2 “Now is the day of salvation.”
Along with King’s messages, the students were treated to music by Rush of Fools, acts of illusion by Brock Grill and testimonies from students around the state. YEC 2017 concluded with a concert led by Building 429.
The common theme throughout the sessions was a challenge to students to share their faith with classmates, family members, co-workers and others. During the Monday afternoon session, King even led participants through a training session on how to use “The Road to Life” tract to share the Gospel.
He encouraged them not to succumb to the fears Satan places in the hearts regarding evangelism but rather face it with the power of Christ.
“Every one of you has a story to tell,” King told the students. “The most important thing is that you mean what you say and that you are willing to tell them your story.”
This was the second of a seven-year rotation to equip students with tools to share Christ. For those who began as a seventh grader during the 2016 YEC, they will be trained with seven different evangelistic tools by the time they are seniors.
Bailey Hayes, an eighth grader from Parkview Baptist Church, Monroe, was among the students who experienced salvation at YEC. He repented and plans to be baptized as soon as possible.
“The high point was committing my life to Jesus,” Hayes said. “I got saved and had just an awesome and extraordinary time.”
Hannah Carnes, a senior from Chesnut Drive Baptist Church, Lufkin, Texas, was inspired by King’s messages.
“He has a gift of getting through to students like me,” Carnes said. “I liked how he shared how the lie of believing ‘it’s okay to sin’ was just not right.”
Josh Barnett, an eighth grader from Crossgate Baptist Church, Robert, said returning to YEC was a chance to recharge his spiritual life and to witness fellow members of his church youth group accept Christ.
“YEC helps keep that fire for Christ in our hearts,” Barnett said. “It makes me happy and jump for joy.”
Calling the called
King’s calls for students to step up covered a wide variety of subjects, the final one asked them to respond to the call to vocational ministry. He told students how he accepted Christ at the age of 14 during a youth rally in Greer, South Carolina, and that less than a year later he was preaching his first sermon.
King encouraged the students to step out in faith and accept the Holy Spirit’s calling, whatever it may be, even though He might not have revealed the specifics of His plan.
He challenged the students not to give in to the temptation of gaining fame, and urged them, instead, to choose a path of service to Christ.
“It’s not about you,” he said. “It’s not for you. It’s not so you can make a name for yourself. When God calls you into ministry, He calls you into ministry so you can call them out of sin and call them to Jesus.”
This is the final year for YEC in the Cajundome. Next year, YEC returns to the Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria, where it enjoyed a 27-year run before renovations of the facilities forced a move to south Louisiana.