On April 15-17, 2016, the Northwest Youth Conference held its “Uniquely Adventist” event at the Stateline Seventh-day Adventist Church in Milton-Freewater, OR. The following are observations and reflections from Emily Duffield, an attendee at the conference.
What does it mean to be uniquely Adventist? To discover the answer, young people from across the North Pacific Union came together on April 15-17 for Northwest Youth Conference, held in the Walla Walla Valley at Stateline Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Organized and run by youth from the young adult Sabbath School class at Stateline Church, Northwest Youth Conference’s mission is “to encourage, empower, and equip each other as young people to fully grasp the message and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church by living and proclaiming the Three Angel’s Messages in the North Pacific Union—and beyond.”
This year, the conference’s theme was “Uniquely Adventist,” focusing on how the power of the gospel can change our lives as portrayed in the sanctuary. Seth Roberts, the platform chairman and Walla Walla Community College student remarked, ‘The sanctuary message lies at the foundation of who we are as Adventists. The 2016 NWYC shed new light on this “old” doctrine in ways I had never before understood.’ Jeanelle Pestes, music coordinator and Washington State University student, shared that during the conference she “learned why the Sanctuary message is being attacked: Like earthly enemies strive to destroy their rival’s headquarters, Satan seeks to destroy God’s [headquarters]—the Sanctuary.”
The event exhibited plenty of music, sermons, and fellowship. Thomas Mayhew Jr, an attendee from the Tri-cities, thoroughly enjoyed the music: “NWYC was a huge blessing to many people. I felt the angels singing with the congregation—it sent chills down my spine, it was so beautiful.” Julianna Bishop, an attendee from Walla Walla, said that it was “really nice to have so many like minded Adventists all together at one place!”
The church was well-attended, with plenty of youth and adults eager to listen to Pastor Jorge Baute from Idaho, and Sean Nebblett, a Biblical counselor from New Mexico. Together, they presented eleven power-packed sermons, presenting the gospel through the sanctuary.
Over the weekend, Nebblett challenged the youth to live a life of complete surrender to God, sharing with them the “defining marks of the men and women made free by the sacrifice of the Lamb.” He spoke of several things that makes Adventists unique among Christians. As described by Nebblett, Adventists:
- Understand the Sanctuary in a way that instills strength for the purpose of sacrifice
- Understand that that this world is not their home
- Possess a holy confidence when living in accordance with Scripture
- Should not be afraid to be peculiar
- Have access to unconditional confidence even under trial and persecution
- Should and can live a complete and victorious life in the Lord Jesus
Speaking of Nebblett’s presentations, Jeanelle Pestes found encouragement in the message. “NWYC gave me new ways to think. Contrary to popular science, ‘heaven is preoccupied with the survival of the weakest.’”
Pastor Baute challenged the attendees to live their lives above the norm, showing in practical terms that Jesus is able to fully, amply, and entirely save us from the bondage of sin. He also spoke of the importance of the sanctuary:
- As a model for prayer
- How its message needs to enter and impact the daily life
- The good news of the judgment – Jesus our advocate being ready to blot out our sin if we will but let him
- How it answers the question of why Jesus has not yet returned
- How we can be among those who are saved
In response to Pastor Baute’s message on the Sanctuary, Heidi Reinecke explained that she had been having an internal war over her identity, especially in regards to what she needed to do to be a real Christian. She described her contemplations as overwhelming. She went on to explain that “it was Pastor Baute’s sanctuary series that pushed me over the edge of my Christian identity [crisis]…I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to share in the experience and blessings of NWYC.”
Another attendee, Emily Heagy from Walla Walla, commented on the overall experience: “During NWYC, I gained a better understanding of Christ’s righteousness and the importance of spending time with Him in prayer and Bible study.” Finally, Brianna, a Walla Walla University student, expressed her experience, “The speakers and messages at NWYC opened my eyes to see the real hope in God’s plan to make His people perfect. I used to be so afraid that I would never be good enough for Him, but I know now I don’t have to be afraid because God is right beside me—helping me at every step.”