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Potomac Youth ARISE for Christ

Story by Taashi Rowe
Published 2/8/2012

Pastor James Black, North American Division Youth Ministries director, says a special prayer after his sermon. 

This weekend some 800 teens and young adults showed up for God at Potomac Conference’s youth festival themed “ARISE.” Held at Takoma Academy in Takoma Park, Md., the young people did more than just sit and listen. This was an opportunity for evangelism. “This youth fest is about creating a safe environment that our own kids would feel comfortable bringing their friends,” said Denny Grady, the conference’s Youth Ministries director. 

Starting on Friday night, some 16 performers ministered to their peers through voice, instruments and movement to wild applause. That same night, young adult leaders rose for God by attending workshops that taught them how to minister in public high schools, middle schools and how to make their churches more young adult friendly.

On Sabbath morning, after James Black, North American Division Youth Ministries director, talked about Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego standing up for their beliefs in Babylon, everyone in the crowd stood up to affirm their love for Christ. “You can’t arise to the occasion by yourself. God, whether or not you see Him, has to be there with you,” Black explained in his sermon titled “Arising to the Occasion.”

Several others walked to the front of the stage for special prayer, including Sreyleak Sok, an 18-year-old member of the Patterson church in Richmond, Va. “I went up front because God wants us to rise for Him, and I want to honor him by rising up,” she shared.

After Sabbath lunch, the young people boarded buses and went out to Washington, D.C., and nearby Langley Park to feed the homeless and less fortunate. They also distributed care packages at both sites. In Washington, D.C., when one group of teens realized they couldn’t help with the distribution, they happily sang for all present. One young man, 23-year-old Francisco Alas, a member of the Falls Church (Va.) Spanish congregation, shared encouraging words with several homeless people. “I told them, ‘not to give up and to keep praying,’” he said. “I work near here and see them all the time. I feel bad for them and want to help.”

Jose Barrientos Jr. (Josant), the Children’s Ministries pastor at Community Praise Center in Alexandria, Va., said spending time with the young people who went to Langley Park, reaffirmed his belief that “when you allow young people to do something for Christ they will work hard. They want to work for Jesus.”