The conferences in the Atlantic Union territory commenced the year 2020 with memorable leadership conventions—gatherings that provided extensive training and fellowship for multiple branches of youth ministry. These youth ministry educational summits for leaders provided training for unmasked, in-person youth ministry initiatives.
Youth leaders did not know that this year would be punctuated by a battery of life-altering events, including a persistent pandemic, social unrest, and political turmoil. They did not anticipate a year beclouded by the coronavirus, endless loss of loved ones, a national mental-health crisis, heartache, homelessness, joblessness, financial distress, as well as, thousands of disenfranchised students (youth and young adults), and teachers who will continue the teaching-learning struggle of 2020 into 2021.
Furthermore, the aforementioned youth leadership training did not prepare leaders for the 2020 year of social distancing, virtual youth ministry delivery, church fellowship, club meetings, or social events. It essentially became a year of learning to lead in new, innovative ways on the go, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and engaging thousands of youth and young adults across the territory in the various branches of youth ministry, while providing youth ministry support.
The Holy Spirit has taught, led, and inspired youth leaders to provide relevant service during these challenging times. Under His divine guidance, with much prayer and supplication, youth ministry across the Atlantic Union territory continues to be alive and well. Youth leaders have been empowered to deliver ministry initiatives that have been 2020 situational and contextual.
We look back and look forward with the calm assurance that our past and future are in the hands of the Great I Am (Exodus 3:14, KJV); the God who declares that He is the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13, KJV).
He is the God of the beginning and the end of 2020. He has also been the God of the time between the beginning and the end of 2020, as well. The holy Scriptures boldly proclaim that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble” (Psalm 46:1, KJV); for “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5, KJV). “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20, KJV).
Today, we stand looking toward the end of 2020, giddy from the youth ministry whirlwind year of “the virtual,” yet grateful for the privilege of service. Amid 2020’s challenges, losses, fears, and uncertainties, God has blessed His youth and young adults and their leaders. He has kept, comforted, sustained, and protected them. Today, we can look forward in prayerful surrender to a God who moderates the “heat” of our lives; a God who will never “give us more than we can bear;” but will make a way of escape for His children (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Today, as youth ministry leaders plan virtual 2021 youth leadership training; as we deliberate about more effective social distancing and/or masked-in-person youth ministry initiatives, we plan with the understanding that we are still here for God’s purpose. We plan with quivering hearts of gratitude for life so that we can continue intentional, Holy Spirit-empowered service for our youth in 2021. We plan, underscoring the prophetic value of our current time, and “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2, KJV).