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100 Ohio Young Adults Seek Connection to God at GODencounters

Story by Heidi Shoemaker; Photos by the Ohio Conference Youth Department
Published 4/30/13

“Everyone wants to connect … [but] nobody wants to talk about connecting. They want to experience it,” says Steven Carlson, youth director for the Ohio Conference. Carlson says that talking about God is a very different experience than experiencing Him, and that is what he hoped to illustrate at the conference’s first GODencounters young adult weekend. “A God who longs for connection … for a relationship, for an encounter, that’s what GODencounters is all about,” he adds.
Carlson believes they reached their goal for the weekend, which was held at the conference’s Camp Mohaven Retreat and Conference Center in Danville. Nearly 100 young adults from across the state and beyond filled meeting rooms to worship, pray and experience God. GODencounters is “a movement of young adults who are wholeheartedly pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ, a worldwide movement sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” Carlson adds, “[It’s] about encountering God where you are today; going after a God Who came after us first.”
Weekend sessions included uplifting praise music led by Carlson and his worship team, followed with talks by Matthew Gamble (pictured). Gamble is the senior pastor at the Elmshaven church in St. Helena, Calif., a senior consultant with the Center for Creative Ministry and an advisor to the North American Division Young Adult Advisory. He encourages young adults to explore the concept of grace, follow Jesus as a “counter-cultural alternative to the rat race” and live free and light in Christ.

There were also times for attendees to meet at café tables or in “Living.Room.Sessions” to discuss questions, like “In what area of your life do you need to trust God more?” and “Why do you personally worship God?”
Christopher Atkins of Toledo said of the weekend, “I was blown away by some of the thought-provoking conversations I had, and overall just blessed to be a part of it.”
K.C. Schaefer of Dayton posted on Facebook, “I was blessed to be a small part of God’s huge plans of this weekend. …God did some serious encountering.”
Kayla Robinson, who visited all the way from Eau Claire, Mich., added, “I think the best thing I can say about GODencounters is that it provides a way to meet God in a more personal way than maybe you have before. It allows you to clear your head and actually listen to Him. It was amazing!”
For more information and to learn what will take place at the 2014 event, visit

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