By Brian Blackwell and Kirbi Cochran
ALEXANDRIA – Hundreds of students embraced a call to “change the world for Christ” during the 2018 Youth Evangelism Conference, coinciding with a change in venue for the annual event as it returned to the confines of its traditional home at the Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria.
Extensive renovations to the coliseum had forced a move to south Louisiana for the past four years.
“Being back at the Coliseum is like coming home; it’s a good fit,” said Keith Manuel, evangelism and church growth director for Louisiana Baptists. “We’ve been blessed to have a great response to YEC at every location, however, being in central Louisiana allows us to make the most effective use of our resources and strategically reach more students across the state for Christ.
“The coliseum staff and upgrades made this a welcome and accommodating environment to freely share the Word of God and respond to spiritual needs,” he added.
FOR CHRIST’S SAKE
Evangelist Drew Worsham headlined the gathering, Nov. 18-19, challenging Louisiana Baptist teens in multiple sessions to share what Christ has done in their lives, and encouraging them to change the world for the Lord.
“He is not done with you, yet, and He has an assignment and purpose for you,” Worsham said in one of his messages to more than 6,000 students and adult chaperones. “And that assignment is to make Him known.”
The theme of “Change” was based on Romans 12:1-2.
The two-day event also included award-winning Christian band Rush of Fools, event master of ceremonies Joseph Sojourner, event disc jockey DJ Vow, a demonstration by the Real Encounter BMX team, testimonies from students and concerts by former American Idol contestant Colton Dixon and the all-sibling band Bonray.
Throughout the conference, students and adult leaders were asked to intentionally reach out to classmates, family members, co-workers and others with the message of the Gospel. Moreover, during the Monday afternoon session, Worsham led a training session on how to use the EvangeCard tract to share the Gospel. Students also were reminded to share Christ on social media, and asked to post testimonies on Instagram and Facebook using #YEC18.
This is the third of a multi-year rotation to equip students with various tools to share Christ. Those who began the training as seventh graders during the 2016 YEC will be familiar with seven different evangelistic tools by the time they are seniors.
SHARING HIS STORY
Worsham told the students that sharing the Gospel is essentially telling a story of how their lives have been changed because of Jesus.
“God has called us to leverage the influence of relationships He has put in our lives to tell the story of Jesus,” Worsham said. “Every person that God puts in your intersection is there for a reason. God sits you next to that person in that classroom, on that bus, in that coffee shop, just so the Gospel in you would intersect with them and you might get an opportunity to love, encourage them and push them. And when you have eyes to see people as ministry, you will start to see God moving in so many different areas. All of a sudden you show up at a restaurant or hang out and it’s like the Holy Spirit shows up and there’s a Gospel moment because you had eyes to see.”
Worsham said a Gospel story has three parts – how one lived before Jesus, why a person chose to follow Jesus and what changes have taken place since accepting Christ as Lord.
“God has given us an assignment, a mission, and He sent us into the world to be agents of hope,” Worsham said. “Our God’s not dead, He’s alive. We worship a living God.”
He also warned students not to just experience God at YEC, and then neglect him when they return home. He urged them instead to focus daily on Christ and to influence others for Him.
Citing Acts 1, Worsham noted that prior to ascending into Heaven, Christ promised His followers they would receive power through the Holy Spirit.
“You and I have all this potential to change the world,” he said. “But without the Holy Spirit we don’t have power. Jesus said I am sending you into the world to change it, but you don’t need to do it on your own.”
Angel Edmisson, a member of Christway Baptist Church in Pineville, was moved to accept Christ as her Savior after one of Worsham’s messages.
“The Scripture and the sermons were very moving. I knew about Christ and I have been very much aware of Him, but I didn’t fully accept Him into my heart until yesterday,” she said. “He really did move me in ways I couldn’t imagine.”
Elizabeth Norred, a member of First Baptist Church in Zachary, was reminded about the importance of being an authentic Christ follower.
“One thing, especially, that I got out of these two days was Drew’s point about how there is a difference between knowing about Jesus and truly knowing Him,” Norred said. “That really hit me because we can know a lot about Him, and we can quote verses, and we can pray when we actually don’t know Him, personally. And to have a relationship with Jesus is an amazing thing to have and it can really change your life.”
David Myers, a member of South Park Baptist Church in Leesville, was moved by the sense of community inside the coliseum.
“YEC brings us together as one,” Myers said. “You could feel Jesus in there. YEC is all about bringing people to Jesus.”