“It is a glorious phrase of the New Testament, that ‘he led captivity captive.’ The very triumphs of his foes, it means, he used for their defeat. He compelled their dark achievements to sub-serve his end, not theirs. They nailed him to the tree, not knowing that by that very act they were bringing the world to his feet. They gave him a cross, not guessing that he would make it a throne. They flung him outside the gates to die, not knowing that in that very moment they were lifting up all the gates of the universe, to let the King of Glory come in. They thought to root out his doctrines, not understanding that they were implanting imperishably in the hearts of men the very name they intended to destroy. They thought they had defeated God with his back the wall, pinned and helpless and defeated: they did not know that it was God himself who had tracked them down. He did not conquer in spite of the dark mystery of evil. He conquered through it.” – James S. Stewart
In an unpredictable and unprecedented year for all, the ICOC Youth and Family Service Team offers an update highlighting the fact and ways that God worked not “in spite of” a dark year, but “through it.” As our team (who aims to maintain connection all over the world) asked around, we found out many great things that God continued to do in the midst of the pandemic and even through it.
Through the year, in different parts of the world, we continued to see youth baptized into Christ. For some, the pandemic brought to them the reality of how short and fragile our lives really are. The words of James rang true that our lives are but a mist. As many life activities (and with them distractions) were removed, families were together more. Parents were thus more available to their children and they faithfully seized the opportunity to be the primary instrument of instilling faith into their children, just as God calls them to do. The slow down also helped the youth give a greater focus to pursuing their faith and God rewarded their efforts.
There were many adjustments that hard-working people all over the world implemented that ministered to our families in a great way. Some of these were on local congregational levels, but there was also an incredible, synergistic sharing and collaboration through our unified worldwide fellowship that was a blessing to thousands.
- We saw creative and excellent adjustments in our children’s ministries, including virtual Sunday services specifically for children that preceded main services
- Youth and Family Ministers pivoted to online events with their youth, fostering connection and still preaching God’s word
- Youth participated in various special events such as virtual rallies and conferences
- There were two incredible international devotionals, the second of which was led in preaching, prayer and praise by youth from all over the world
- Youth camps happened on a virtual basis thanks in big part to Swamp Camp that provided powerful camp experiences for youth in 29 countries, 68 churches and in five languages
We praise God for the ways in which he worked miracles even through the pandemic. We want to lift up the amazing parents who have ministered to their teens so faithfully. We also want to lift up the amazing youth from all over the world who have decided to not only grow in their faith in this time, but to continue to boldly share their faith in it as well!
Faithfully forward now to 2021!
With love, the Youth and Family Ministry Service Team
- Damon and Michelle Curtis – Houston, USA (Chair)
- Curt and Heidi Ammons – Milwaukee, USA
- Phil and Kris Arsenault – Boston, USA
- Ross and Manami Lippencott – New York, USA
- Audie and Bethany Monday – Philadelphia, USA
- Jake and Kelsey Rock – Orlando, USA
- Nadine Templer – Kathmandu, Nepal
- Eric and Megan Testa – Indianapolis, USA
- Bob and Susan Wedin – Phoenix, USA