The future is very bright! I know; you’ve heard the old cliché countless times. By now, it’s probably lost its punch. But, this time it’s so true! Proclaiming those words reveal the global impact we’ve seen, heard, and experienced. What’s our basis? Well, Brother and Sister Howell, Sister Poitras and I have experienced first-hand Next Steps 2014, AYC-Sri Lanka (Howells), and AYC-Ghana (Poitrases), and we assure you the future is very bright. (The old cliché strikes again!) We can tell by looking at the noteworthy caliber and character of participants in these programs that we rubbed shoulders with, prayed with, interacted with, and saw in action reaching their world. They love God, love people, and love each other.
Our general director and his wife, Brother and Sister Howell joined our general youth president and his wife, Brother and Sister Michael Ensey with the twenty-five participants in the AYC group in Sri Lanka. Brother Howell was overwhelmed with the young people as they shared how their trip impacted, challenged, and changed their lives—for eternity. Life challenging!
Then, Brother Howell traveled on to the Next Steps Program in progress in Togo, West Africa. There, twelve Next Steppers, and four AIMers (along with three missionary families), Africa regional director and his wife, Brother and Sister Richardson, with Sister Poitras and I, were involved in the three weeks of cross-cultural and intercultural studies, which is followed by five weeks of extensive practical experience. Pentecost Kids Crusades were held several weekends. Already, at the time of this writing, over ninety have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Five were baptized in Jesus name. Another highlight of the program was a visit to a local orphanage with more than sixty-five kids. Life changing!
Next Steps Ghana (Above)
Brother Howell in Altar Service in Togo (Below)
Here is what one of the Next Steps participants, Courtney Boyd, said in her monthly letter to me, “At the altar call, we were all praying for kids, but then I needed to step away because I got a little overwhelmed and claustrophobic. I stepped with my back against the walls, aka bamboo tied together, and closed my eyes to begin praying. All of a sudden, God’s reverent and holy presence overtook me and I was truly lost in Him, and I fell down on my knees.
For some reason, I remember opening up my eyes real quickly and right when I looked up I locked eyes with this little girl. She was a few rows away on her knees praying, and as soon as we made eye contact a tear streamed down her face. I motioned for her to come over. So she got on her knees beside me, hands raised, and I began praying over her. Then, praying led to travail. Next thing I knew, her head was nuzzled in my side, and she was speaking in tongues and bawling. I’ll never forget that. EVER. I don’t know her name, but I’ll always remember her and that moment God gave us. This place has humbled me so much more than mere syllables or words could ever portray. I refuse, absolutely refuse, to go home the same.”
Brother Howell and Brother Kofi Mawusi Preaching the House Down
We left Brother Howell and our missionary team with the group, after program graduation, and rushed to Ghana to meet with the fifty young people that were part of AYC-Ghana working with the Nick Sisco family. On that Friday night, we listened intently to young people as they shared their experiences. One young lady said, “I came to Africa thinking it needed me. What I found was I needed Africa!” In the previous few days twenty-one had received the Holy Ghost. A security guard at one of the hotels was witnessed to by one of the young people. He agreed to be baptized in the hotel swimming pool in the middle of the night. The Book of Acts lives on in the actions of hundreds of young people traveling overseas each summer. In fact, AYC is experiencing their highest enrolment ever this year. It continues to climb each year! Add to that Next Steps and the various districts that send out teams.
AYC-Ghana Participants (Below)
A pair of new shoes was presented as a going away gift for one of the missionary wives. The question was asked, “How did you know my size?” The answer, “We found your footprint in the sand and measured that.” Hundreds of young people this summer have left their footprints in nations, and nations have left their marks on hearts of hundreds of young people. Life altering!
Someone in the archives of time has said, “A church without young people has no future. A church without old people has no history.” The generations bring together our past, present, and future. History intersects with future producing a glorious hope-filled destiny. Go, General Youth Division! Go, Global Missions! Go, United Pentecostal Church International. Go, taking the whole gospel to the whole world by the whole church!