By Brian Blackwell, Marketing Director
ALEXANDRIA – In a year set aside for an awakening of Christ among Louisiana Baptists, hundreds of young people answered the call to accept and serve the Lord in record numbers. It was the highest-attended Youth Evangelism Conference ever.
Celebrating its 25th year, YEC resulted in 7,567 in attendance and 950 who made decisions, including 398 who accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, 233 who re-committed to Jesus and 55 who indicated a call to ministry.
“YEC 2012 shared the stories of those who have been marked by Christ, specifically at YEC, and celebrated what God has done in their lives,” said Kevin Boles, Louisiana Baptist Convention youth ministries strategist. “It was a true celebration of the victory that can only be found in Jesus.”
The annual gathering of youth from the state is the largest gathering of Louisiana Baptists each year.
Taking place at the Rapides Parish Coliseum, YEC this year featured high-energy music from the band Skillet and worship leaders Jeff Johnson Band, illusionist Joshua Jordan, inspiring messages, testimonies, the Skit Guys and comedian Bob Smiley.
The theme of the conference was Marked, based on Ephesians 1:13.
For the first time in the history of the event, YEC was sold out before the doors opened. The attendance shattered the previous record of 7,050, set back in 2010.
Boles credits that to an awakening occurring in the current generation of teen-agers.
“We’re seeing this current generation be more receptive to sharing the message of Christ on their campuses and in their communities, and be more willing to take this message locally, nationally, and globally, than any other generation in history,” Boles said. “At the same time, however, we sense a great desperation among leaders to reach this lost culture of students.”
During each session, Clayton King stressed the importance of a relationship with Chris and acting properly in a dating relationship. He is the founder of Clayton King Ministries in Boiling Springs, N.C.
Citing Luke 24:13-35, King said two men were walking with Jesus after he rose from the dead but did not recognize Him at first. Later, the men realized it was Jesus but only after he had shared many passages with them and eaten in their home.
“They missed something so obvious that it was right in front of their face,” King said. “Some of you have sung songs about Jesus and been involved in activities about Jesus. But some of you are missing Jesus.”
If students believe they may be missing Jesus, King offered four elements that describe a lasting relationship with Christ.Those elements are personal, passionate, public and permanent.
Like Mary sacrificed a bottle of perfume that King believes cost thousands of dollars, a Christian must be willing to give up something precious for Jesus.
“Real, true conversion is not about what you say,” King said. “It’s about what you do.”
Later in the conference, King shared three principles of a successful, Christ-centered relationship.
He said that every direction leads to a destination, every date is a potential mate, and to stop trying to find the right person and start becoming the right person.
King said that immorality is rampant in America and is destroying its foundation. He said while a Christian has the freedom to choose, sin also has its consequences such as pregnancy, divorce and heartache.
“The world needs to see we do relationships differently,” King said. “And then they’ll be attracted to the gospel.”
Kylie Knotts, an eighth grader from First Baptist Ringgold, said she was inspired by what King told her and other students.
“Everything he said was something I can use for my life and draw closer to the kind of person God wants me to be,” said Knotts, who was attending her third YEC. “I love coming each year because it’s fun and I get to learn something God wants to teach me.”
Cody Kirk, a junior from Philadelphia Baptist in Deville, also enjoyed King’s messages.
“What he said really encouraged me,” said Kirk, as he was waiting in line to enter for the Monday afternoon session. “YEC in general helps my foundation for what I believe in.”
Chase Weaver, a youth leader at Northside Baptist in Montgomery, said that YEC brought unity within their group.
“We have learned a lot about each other and our relationship with Christ on this trip,” Weaver said. “This event has really brought us closer together and helped us to form bonds.”