By Jesse Hinson
‘Some men’s ambition is art.
Some men’s ambition is fame.
Some men’s ambition is gold.
My ambition is the souls of men.’
-William Booth in King Edward VII’s autograph book, 1904
God has created each and every one of us as unique individuals. We grow up in diverse cultures, are raised in many ways, have our own experiences and grow up with varying backgrounds. We all have different strengths, abilities and interests which, when brought together, serve to achieve a single unifying goal: the salvation of the whole world. The theme “Every Tribe, One World, One Ambition” drew inspiration from William Booth’s quote and was demonstrated as a challenge to TYI 2015 delegates to look beyond division towards a common purpose – to look beyond differences towards a unified aim.
The Raleigh, North Carolina, Praise team and Territorial Youth Department got things started on Saturday evening by bringing together 450 staff and delegates in a time of corporate worship. Major Bobby and Captain Anne Westmoreland, territorial youth secretary and associate secretary, opened the week with an invitation. “I believe some may have come to TYI with your oil very low or gone completely,” Major Bobby Westmoreland said. “Let God light the flame of hope, encouragement and peace in your hearts so that you return home as world changers.” Delegates and staff were then encouraged to take strips of cloth, write their prayers/praises on them and then tie them to reeds fixed on the stage in the fashion of Tibetan prayer flags.
In a change from recent years, morning manna (devotions) was led by multiple speakers. Major Cheryl Gilliam used a lantern to illustrate the parable of the ten virgins from Matthew 25 and spoke on how we all must daily rely on the Holy Spirit to refill our oil – that we cannot rely on last week’s blessings and insights to sustain us through the future. Lieutenant Heather Dolby used the familiar story of Jonah and the whale to demonstrate what happens when we fail to live up to God’s purpose; in a world that stresses living a gray-colored life, there is actually light and dark and we must pick a side. Pastor Jeff Wallace, pastor of youth development at Peace Baptist, emphasized that the time is now. “With all the mess going on in the world today we don’t have time to be divided. Every tribe! It’s not a black issue or a white issue or a Latino issue or an Asian issue…It’s a God issue,” he said. It is time for Christian love to set the tone for race relations. It is time for our young people to recognize the potential God sees in them and to be ambitious with their friends and futures.
Staff led electives and seminars where delegates could experience creative areas of interest, develop skills for ministry and learn valuable life lessons like cultural awareness, respecting yourself and how to evangelize. Night programs were planned intentionally to reach three goals: build community, foster cultural appreciation and inspire Christian confidence. Awards were given out to delegates who most represented what it means to be an exemplary young Christ follower.
As delegates and staff reflect on their experience at TYI 2015, memories of the grueling tough mudder or of Damien Horne’s testimony or of enlightening moments during the Lost Tribes program may be the first things that come to mind. However, without a doubt the most important message will be remembered from Revelations 5:9: And they sang a new song saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
With this as the end game we will, as one tribe…one family…one world, dedicate ourselves to one ambition.
Photos by Joshua Huling