The convention attracted 300 youth and young adults from Myanmar's diverse ethnic groups who listened to presentation highlighting challenges such as cultural shock, generational conflict, political issues, financial hardship, and spiritual malnourishment, in the aim to provide hope and freedom in Christ.
Approximately, 300 diverse groups of Myanmar youth and young adults, along with some parents, participated in the convention. Attendees represented 11 states across the U.S. including Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, and Washington.
The five-day convention focused on providing the diverse NAD Myanmar youth with the opportunity to connect and fellowship with each other, and to be co-laborers with Jesus Christ, while enabling them to experience and learn from experts that are well-versed in the areas affecting their physical, mental, and spiritual life. The goal is to provide youth and young adults hope and freedom in Christ.
The leaders and the planning committee of the convention strategically drew out the 5-day schedule to be as engaging for the target group as it could possibly be while ensuring various aspects of the convention could still be incorporated in order to ensure the attendees can learn and connect with each other and with their Lord, Jesus Christ. The days begin with the United Prayer morning devotion which was led by Gem Castor, Prayer Coordinator of ASAP Ministries. During the day, educational and entertainment activities such as sports activities including soccer and volleyball tournaments, seminar sessions, and exhibition sessions consisting of various booths from organizations and schools, were provided to the attendees. In the evenings, engaging activities such as social games, Bible action, singing contests, and cultural shows were among some of the activities.
In addition to that, attendees heard Tracy Wood, youth director of the North American Division, deliver messages on God’s love and His deliverance, tid to the theme of 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 “Bent But Not Broken.”
A special time for outreach ministry and community services was also provided where attendees had the opportunity to serve the Lord in action by emerging into the local communities on Sabbath to help clean a park, participate in a mobile food drive, and distribute items to the communities, visiting nursing homes and dying local churches.
Most, if not all, of the NAD Myanmar youth have refugee and immigrant backgrounds given the influx of refugees and immigrants from Myanmar resettling in the U.S. over the last two decades. This has resulted in a growing need for ministry to this group. Many of these youth and young adults are still faced with challenges including culture shock, generational conflicts, financial hardship, and spiritual malnourishment, in addition to the normal everyday struggles such as physical and mental health, and relationship issues. To alleviate this issue, the convention offers expert guided seminars and a Q&A panel featuring the presenters allowing attendees to post questions deemed important to them.
Seminars were under five different categories, reflecting on the following themes:
Mental & Physical Health
Parenting Seminars in Burmese (Understanding Gen Z)
On Sabbath, instead of going to church, the young and adults were being the church and separated into four different groups. Two different groups participated in Edwardsburg and Dowagiac churches, while another two groups visited the Provision Living nursing home and Our Way of the House.
After the community service, church was held at noon where two brave youth announced that they’re no longer living for the world but for Christ, and wanted to be baptized.
Conference organizers said they had no money to pull off such an undertaking and that God touched the heart of Andrews University former president Andrea Luxton who agreed to help with substantial support. “They went above and beyond of call of duty to make this event possible,” said Sam Ngala, Indiana Conference pastor and president of North American Division Myanmar Adventist Ministries.
In addition, Ron Whitehead, executive director of the Center for Youth Evangelism and Lake Union Youth Dept. provided resources and guidance. Support was also given by Adventist Frontier Missions, ASAP ministry, Michigan Conference, Washington Conference, Indiana Conference, Lake Union, Adventist Refugees and Immigrant Ministries.
KhaiKhai Cin, executive director of the NAD Myanmar youth ministry says the event went better than expected by the grace of God as the team were unsure to some degree. He then concluded with “What an amazing opportunity for us to witness to you and to others in our community about God's love through this event. It’s amazing how God has been leading us thus far. We had a short time of preparation, but God came in and he opened many doors even when there were no doors, so on behalf of my team, we just want to give Him thanks.”
David Kang, general volunteer, assistant coordinator for park restoration and giveaway, mentioned that his “expectations were somewhere in the middle. Because this event was happening for the very first time for this group, it's only fair to wait and see what would unfold, whether good or bad. For the most part, everything turned out exceedingly well. It was amazing to see the 'unseen' (as Pastor Khai Khai challenged us to find) with the guidance of God, if you let Him be who He is.” Then he added, “It was great to see how everything was neatly put together. The worship services and the performances within the services were fantastic. There was a great amount of laughter, excitement, fun, and fellowship that made it very worthwhile. I hope that we continue to build something that captures the imagination of our youth in their journey with God.”
Precious YadanarEaindra Nant, Andrews University current student, exhibit booth coordinator, says she hoped for connection with God throughout the convention and have “learned to love others who are just as broken as I am. God has been showing me how to love others with the same kind of humility and unconditional love that he has shown us. I also had experience working with challenging groups, which helped me develop and establish trust with both my team and myself. All in all, the convention helped me to gain greater self-assurance and, more significantly, to learn to love other people and share the love I have received from God with everyone I have met.”
Eden Zin, sports coordinator, says leading youth convention/camp was his childhood dream and was happy to see that he finally was able to fulfill that dream through the convention. “I was so excited and proud of myself working together with my fellow youth leaders with the same passions I have. Some of the coordinators I’ve worked with are someone who I’ve never seen before. We started to get to know each other through zoom and when I finally got to know them in person, they were all great people, so friendly and helpful. My expectations of this event are the same as what I have expected before. During the convention, Just as I had expected, there were a lot of mistakes, errors and delays from all departments. But the beautiful thing is that, we all come together and help each other out. Things could’ve been better, and still I will never have the exact same experiences that I have experienced in this convention with my brothers and sisters.”
Plans are underway for the next Myanmar youth convention to be held in June 2025. For more information, visit www.nadmam.org
Hoih Nu is the NAD Myanmar Adventist Ministries youth convention media coordinator.