Young people in El Salvador hand out hot meals as part of a series of acts of kindness during Global Youth Day on March 20, 2021. Thousands of young people across Inter-America took part in the annual event.    [Photo: El Salvador Union]

April 1, 2021 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

After more than a year of pandemic lockdowns and social distancing restrictions, thousands of Seventh-day Adventist young people across Inter-America took to the streets in their communities and on their mobile devices to share hope and show acts of kindness on Global Youth Day, Mar. 20, 2021.

The annual event, which is observed by the world church, encourages Adventist youth to “Be the Sermon” in their communities as they portray the love of Jesus through various activities.

Young people from the western part of Chiapas, Mexico, pose with water bottles that they will give away to onlookers on Global Youth Day, Mar. 20, 2021. [Photo: Chiapas Mexican Union]

Reaching out to local communities

This year, the focus was about reaching out to those who are of different color, culture and language.

“I was so moved to see so much passion for global ministries and passion to serve from our young people in the Inter-American Division,” said Pastor Al Powell, youth ministries director for the church in Inter-America. “Despite the pandemic that seemed to dampen the spirit of young people last year with its initial strict lockdowns, this year was a great opportunity for the youth to shine for Jesus.” Their talents, innovation and dedication for witnessing is especially electrifying to see each year, said Powell.

During a brief afternoon GYD live program on Facebook, Powell, along with church leaders and young people, shared different mission projects taking place among different people groups across the Inter-American Division (IAD) territory, young people in mission service around the world, and various impact activities taking place during the day.

Young people pose with medical staff at the COVID-19 Respiratory Clinic in Tuxtla Gutierrez in Chiapas, Mexico, after they delivered special snack bags and drinks for the health professionals. [Photo: Chiapas Mexican Union]

Messages of hope

In Chiapas, Mexico, more than 29,000 young people marched through the streets of their cities and communities with signs of hope, gave away water, shared food, distributed literature and prayed for people. Young people also visited hospitals and prayed for the sick, their families and medical staff and distributed food in rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and shelters.

In addition, a group of Adventist youth visited the COVID-19 Respiratory Clinic in Tuxtla Gutierrez, in Chiapas, to deliver 200 special kits filled with snacks, electrolyte energy drinks, hand sanitizers and an encouraging note for the medical staff and health professionals caring for those with COVID-19.

Many also engaged in social media and sent a positive message to a family member or friend who had left the church.

Young people in Southeast Mexico pack fruit and snacks for families in several Mayan communities in the Yucatan Peninsula during Global Youth Day activities. [Photo: Southeast Mexican Union]

In Southeast Mexico, young people distributed food and prayed for those in need in the Mayan communities across Yucatan, Campeche, Quintana Roo and Tabasco.  Already, some 1,100 young people have been ministering in those communities through projects and will continue evangelism impact this year, said Victor Martínez, youth ministries director for the church in Southeast Mexico.

Social media challenge activities

With a theme coined as “We are all the same, we all deserve love,” hundreds of young people in Caracas, in East Venezuela, took part in a series of social media challenges where they shared a verse, a hymn in another language, tried a foreign dish, made signs with positive messages, and took a photo with other persons born outside of the country.

Adventist youth also distributed books to the Chinese, Arabic and Spanish (from Spain) communities in Caracas. In addition, public parks and homes were cleaned up and food and clothes were distributed to the needy families in the community.

A young person from Caracas in East Venezuela displays a bible verse she wrote in English and Portuguese on a paper, during a social media activity that on challenged young people to search texts in other languages during Global Youth Day. The initiative was part of a challenge to learn more about the different colors, culture and languages in their communities. [Photo: East Venezuela Union]

“This week has been one of spiritual growth for me, especially since I am not good at languages,” said Anny Zapata, a young person from the southeastern part of Caracas.  But she said she learned to write out a verse, practice a song, make a sign in a different language and try foreign dish at home.

“Seeing the passion from a youth that grows in the midst of tremendous social and economic crises, facing any obstacle with the desire to serve and that in the midst of a global pandemic works with humility, joy and love is a unique privilege that the Lord offers to those of us who work as leaders,” said David Manrique, youth ministries director for the church in East Venezuela. “They learn that adversity is never an obstacle to being the hands, feet and words of Jesus.”

Distribution of hot meals

El Salvador saw hundreds of Adventist women and children joined to distribute hot meals, masks, anti-bacterial gels, food baskets, clothes and bed sheets at public hospitals, as well as food donations to nursing homes in different communities.  Beaches were cleaned up and more than 30,000 missionary magazines were distributed. Special programs featuring music, prayer and spiritual messages were held in dozens of parks across the country.

Young people in Panama distribute a missionary magazine, masks and anti-bacterial gel in their community on Global Youth Day [Photo: Panama Unioin]

In Panama, 1,000 kits with anti-bacterial gel bottles, masks and rubbing alcohol bottles were distributed throughout cities and communities, as well as 2,500 hot meals to needy communities. In addition, young people took part in holding health fairs in needy communities highly affected by the coronavirus.

Young people in North Colombia distributed books, masks and food. They shared spiritual messages at traffic lights, held health expos, and gave bible studies to anyone who wanted one.

Taking care of the environment

In the Dominican Republic, hundreds of young people took to clearing debris on beaches and coastal areas in an effort to motivate others to care for the environment. Young people shared messages of hope on social media platforms throughout the day, and gave out food, clothing, and missionary books.

Young people  clean up coastal areas in the southeastern part of the Dominican Republic. [Photo: Dominican Union]

In addition, young people in Jamaica showed acts of care and kindness by distributing gift and food baskets. They brought hand sanitizers, masks and germicide soap to the elderly, widowed, orphans, bereaved, homeless, and members of the security forces across the island.

“It’s amazing to see how young people in Inter-America are reaching out to their communities beyond Global Youth Day,” said Powell, of the more than 1.2 million active young people across church in Inter-America. “Young people understand that it’s about serving the community every day of the year, not just one day.”

To learn more about initiatives and activities led by Inter-America’s Youth Ministries department, click HERE

Regional contributors for this article include: Daniel Torreblanca, Victor Martínez, Steven’s Rosado, Fabricio Rivera, Kayc James, Daniela Arrieta, Joel Lizardo, and Nigel Coke.

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