Thousands of Seventh-day Adventists impacted their communities in more than 100 countries on Saturday, March 18 during the annual Global Youth Day event.
As pictures and videos were shared on social media with the hashtag #GYD17, the campaign generated an impact of more than 137 million impressions across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This sets a new Seventh-day Adventist social media record.
Sam Neves, associate director of communication for the Seventh-day Adventist World Church and coordinator of the social media strategy for Global Youth Day said, "We are a global church: 20 million members, 924 languages, 150,000 local congregations in 208 countries and territories. Global Youth Day is the greatest opportunity we have to experience unity as we come together under the singular mission to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our communities.”
Sam Gungaloo, a pastor in South England and Kehrys Sterling from Vancouver Canada, hosted the 24 hour broadcast from the Global Youth Day set—an airplane appropriately called “AirGYD”.
Starting off in Germany, AirGYD virtually "flew" around the world reporting on #GYD17 outreach during the live, online video feed. The 24 hour show was broadcast through the Hope Channel and YouTube Live.
This years service theme was to give blood. People were reminded that for every one pint of blood, three lives can be saved. However, young people around the world found other ways to “Be the Sermon” in their communities.
Youth in Australia mowed lawns for neighbors. Taiwanese youth cheered up new friends in nursing homes. In Spain, Madrid-based youth ran a "Love Expo" where passersby could learn more about how to express love to others through their own "love language."
Presenters in Peru highlighted flash flood relief efforts and a special prayer by AirGYD cabin crew was offered up in support of those who had lost so much in the natural disaster.
A broadcast from inside a Kenyan prison for #GYD17 generated a lot of discussion on how to help prisoners. A panel of young people based in Silver Spring, Maryland reflected on how many Biblical heroes were imprisoned for their faith.
Sabbath Sofas were also a global #GYD17 hit. In several different locations around Great Britian, Adventist young people put sofas in places that got heavy foot traffic. The Sabbath Sofa teams promote Sabbath rest by inviting grateful passersby to sit down and have a break and a chat.
As the 24-hour marathon of a day wrapped up, AirGYD First Officer and Seventh-day Adventist World Church general vice president, Abner De Los Santos, reminded the live global viewership that #GYD17 was about so much more than just a day. He encouraged Adventist youth to make this kind of service a lifestyle.
Seventh-day Adventist World Church president Ted N.C. Wilson participated in Global Youth Day in North America.
"It's just a powerful thing at the very end of time here before Jesus comes to be able to share the Three Angels' messages in practical ways as well as in preaching. People will respect you a lot if they see that what you are saying is what you are also doing,” said Wilson.
Wilson called the outreach "Total Youth Involvement, everybody doing something for Jesus."
Volunteers came from around the Potomac Conference to participate at a mega-event at Rabaut Park, in Washington, D.C., in addition to 1,000 are reported to have reached out into their communities within Potomac, some at shelters and nursing homes. “I love doing things like this,” says one participate from the Aspen Hill Spanish church in Silver Spring, Md. “The reactions you get from people who are so grateful for that one, small act of kindness really blesses you.”
Josant Barrientos, Potomac’s director for youth ministries says the day was a big success and that he’s proud of everyone who was involved. “Young people, you are the hands and feet of Jesus,” he says. “It was a blessing and a privilege to celebrate Global Youth Day by sharing God’s love and answering the call to be the sermon!” Several Potomac youth, along with Wilson, were also interviewed on the Hope Channel after the event.
Additional reporting by Potomac Conference's Tiffany Doss.