The theme is: “God makes all things new”, and in Zulu, “Uwenza konke kube kusha”. This is a fitting theme in two ways. Firstly, it gives hope that the Lord can recreate messed up lives and make them completely new. Secondly, it is the first Youth Conference in the new Auditorium which was recently reconstructed after it had burnt down on 14 June 2008. Thus, the last conference in December 2008, was held in a huge tent. One or two services were just for boys and, with pleasant weather, they sat in the old burnt-out Auditorium.
Quite a few thousand are expected to arrive from Thursday this week and usually by Sunday (5th July) all the children are here. Some come from as far as 500km away. They seek the Lord, and by God’s grace, that will be the emphasis of the conference. Yes, there are other activities (football, volleyball and netball) but our main concern is that the Holy Spirit would work powerfully in their hearts.
Thursday evening: Rev Stegen spoke on purity, encouraging the young people to put the Lord first in everything. The film “Izono zakho” was shown. A film in Zulu “Your sins will find you out”. Although it was the official last service for the week, transport arrangements stretch out during the following few days, because of long distances many have to travel (450 km for some of them).Services therefore continue till Sunday for those who remain. Many children, teens and young adults have turned to Christ and sought counselling, after most services. Please pray for them as they return to their homes – many are “homeless” in the sense that they have no parents and many are from “fatherless” homes.
Thursday afternoon: Special sessions with girls and boys at different venues.
Thursday morning: Rev Stegen preached from Ex 23: 12 & 13. God’s provision for the Israelites meant more than hygiene. The implement referred to was a “wooden peg”. All uncleaness had to be buried “outside the camp”. The true cleansing happens at the wooden cross, of Jesus Christ, which was “outside the camp”, Heb 13: 12 to 13. “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.”
Wednesday evening: Two choirs sang (mamas who do the cooking, and the Youth Choir). Then, there were brief reports from those who had joined the anti-legalisation of prostitution protest in Pietermaritzburg today. Prizes were handed out to the winning sports teams. See Tuesday for more details.
Wednesday afternoon: Dep chair of South African Community Policing Forum – Mr B.J. Sibisi – explained the role of community policing, how to contact them and which phone number to ring if one wants to report child abuse.
Wednesday morning: The service started with prayers for Uncle Bill Bathman, who has addressed many of our Youth Conferences in the past and is now very ill, in the USA. Two songs were sung by the children for Uncle Bill. The prayer, tribute and songs were recorded to be sent to Uncle Bill.
Then, Rev W. Engelbrecht from Kwasizabantu in Gauteng (Pelindaba) preached a sermon from Genesis 3. He spoke about Eve’s close vicinity to the forbidden tree made her more available to the serpent’s temptation. The devil used doubt and soon the fruit looked more attractive to her. Sinners want company and Adam also ate of the fruit. Instead of them coming to God to admit what they had done the Lord God came to them to seek them out. They were guilty and ashamed. Their own attempts to cover their guilt – blaming others and using fig leaves – were in vain. In God’s love He expelled them from the Garden of Eden, lest they eat of the tree of life and live eternally separated from God (who loves mankind and wants to be near each person). God gave us the real tree of life, the Cross of Jesus Christ. It is only there, at this tree of life, where we can uncover our guilt and find full pardon and cleansing. Jesus gives us new life, eternal life.
Tuesday evening: Rev S. Mbatha was the invited guest speaker. He had also spoken at the Kwasizabantu Ministers’ Conference in March. Rev Mbatha shared his testimony based the Joseph’s story found in Genesis 39: 7 to 18. Sometimes the situation demands that a young person has to literally “flee” the temptation. Learn to “delight yourself in the Lord” (as we are told in Ps 37: 3 to 5 and not in the devil’s delicacies. Don’t just forsake your youthful purity for someone else to spoil. Do not trust in your youth. In Isaiah 40 we are told that even “youth shall fall and stumble” and only those “who wait and trust in the Lord, will rise up…”. Rev F.H. Stegen closed in prayer and reminded the children that even if they had “lost their youth” to sin, God makes all things new, if you come to Him for cleansing, and that “even if you are a scrap – the Master of masters can recreate you and make you brand new”.
Tuesday morning and afternoon: Sports. The children could enjoy soccer, netball, touchrugby and volleyball. It was arranged, tournament style, by an organisation, www.livingball.co.za. They also presented the Gospel to the children and the prizes will be handed out on Wednesday night.
Monday evening: Film – Pilgrim’s Progress
Monday afternoon: panel discussion on prostitution and 2010. Various organisations gave information and answered questions on the question of prostitution and how it targets vulnerable girls in rural areas.
Monday morning: service by Rev Erlo Stegen. He gave his testimony, in particular about how the Lord led him with regards to marriage.
Sunday evening: a drama about prostitution, its dangers and the Biblical answers.
Sunday 3pm: There were presentations (with visuals) about prostitution and drugs.
Sunday 10am: message by Dr Sieling. Continuing from yesterday’s theme Dr Sieling also emphasized the aspect of sexual purity. Christ said that he who “looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her, in his heart”. After the message (more of summary to be put online later) he took questions from the young people. Most of the questions had to do with the topic of HIV/Aids. Dr Sieling stressed the importance of loving others in the same way that we love ourselves. We cannot love others if we don’t love ourselves – if God has forgiven we also need to accept that and forgive ourselves and start living for the Lord. Then, we will not infect other people because we love them. We will be faithful to our spouse.
Saturday 7pm: (taken by H. Stegen) Many people are slaves to Satan. In Luke 15 v10 we read that there is joy when one sinner repents. The Pharisees spoke badly of Jesus because he associated with sinners but He would invite them and then save them. In the story of the prodigal son we read of two sons and the younger son who wanted his share of the inheritance. It could be because he couldn’t do as he wanted in front of the father; so he left and moved far away where there wouldn’t be anyone to report on him. At first he had lots of money and friends but when his money was finished, he had to go and work looking after pigs. He was insane in a similar way to Nebuchadnezzar because of pride but, like him, came to his senses. Do you always try and escape from God? Can you not cry to God like the prodigal son? The father allowed the son to do as he wanted. The son had no respect for authority but when he came to his senses, he returned to his father. How did he return? He didn’t laugh and joke but came with remorse and was prepared to be like a servant in his father’s house. Do you have that kind of attitude? Has your heart ever been broken about your sin and you cried like Peter? Have you ever touched heaven with your remorse? Heaven rejoices and God’s arms are open if we return to Him.
Saturday 3pm: Testimonies and reports: The young people from different areas could give testimonies about what the Lord has done for them since the last youth services in December 2008. Among others: A young girl from Hermannsburg testified how the Lord has changed her heart since the one service she attended in December. She now forgives when there are fights at home and she said that there is hope with the Lord Jesus and we can trust Him to change our hearts. A girl from Richards Bay had a vision of her sins and made restitution at home and with friends. She now preaches to other young people. A boy from Nqutu testified how the Lord has helped him in many ways. For example, someone is helping him now with his studies. There were reports from the different co-ordinators in various areas. Gcinepi reported that they held meetings for young people and she could also testify to people with HIV at hospitals. She was also involved in the action against 2010 prostitution. Miss Maphanga also reported that they held many services at schools and spoke about topics relating to young people. A young man from the Greytown area, Miss Khoza (Tugela Ferry) and Miss Choncho (Harding) also visited many schools preaching the gospel. Mr Mtshali has a ministry praying with people in hospitals.
Saturday 10am: The speaker, Dr Sieling, was introduced by Rev Erlo Stegen. Dr Sieling, a professor from Pretoria, spoke about began with the first Hebrew words in the Bible: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. The name of the Supreme Being, signifying in Hebrew, “Strong,” “Mighty.” It is expressive of Omnipotent power; and by its use here in the plural form, is obscurely taught at the opening of the Bible, a doctrine clearly revealed in other parts of it, namely, that though God is one, there is a plurality of persons in the Godhead–Father, Son, and Spirit, who were engaged in the creative work. There is also the implied meaning of the absolute unity of the Trinity like 3 stands tied together in an “an breakable rope”. God took six days of creation to prepare the universe for His crowning creation – a person.
God saw that it was not good for him to be alone and created Eve, joining them, binding them together. In so doing He was also stating that He seeks the same for Himself. Just as a man wants to be loved totally by his wife, so too, God wants mankind to love Him completely, in a sense, as His wife. Not that God needs anything, for He has always been and is perfect. But He chose to give mankind the choice to love God and be bound to Him forever. Sin has always been the easier choice and Adam and Eve did not choose the Tree of life. Man was designed to live forever but God brought in death.
It was God’s gracious act not to allow man to live eternally in his sin. So death came in as a result of sin. Generations followed which were wicked and God chose righteous Noah and his family to be saved through the flood and destruction of the world. Future generations continued in sin until God chose Abraham to “come out”. God then gave the Law to the generations that came from his offspring and Israel was created to show God’s salvation plan for the whole world.
On Mount Sinai God gave Moses the commandments, how to live. God also made it clear (indicating again the importance of a love which binds us together) that man should “love the Lord God will all your heart…”. God gave these commands out of kindness to humans that “it would be well with you”. In Deuteronomy God clearly lays out the laws which would protect people from death and destruction. But mankind continued to disobey.
They did not have the Holy Spirit’s presence within them. Then, the greatest gift came about – the Son of God came.
When He taught the Beatitudes He was essentially explaining the 10 commandments. He made it clear in Matt 5: 17 onwards that He had not “come to destroy the law but to fulfill it.” Three and a half years later, this same man was covered with our sin and died in our place. He had to die because of sin and it was also His own choice to die (and not come down from the Cross as the Pharisees taunted and challenged Him, because the the OT said the Messiah will never die). He arose, ascended and “broke death’s power forever”.
His is the only life “that cannot be killed”.
We must choose to identify with Him. He then sends His Holy Spirit into you who enables you to keep His commands. He binds you to Himself forever. Then, we don’t have to live in the death culture of drugs and destructive addictions. Sin is dealt with. Choose life.
Rev Stegen closed with by repeating the invitation to come to Jesus, He was is both God and Man. By coming to the Lamb of God our sins are washed away and we live eternally.
Friday 7pm: The text for the opening service was taken from Romans 12:1-2. The Lord gave His body for us. It is “our reasonable service” to give our bodies back to Him. Jesus gave His very own life to set us free from sin which rules inside a person. Sin looks attractive and it is often attached to limited pleasure. The devil cannot provide continual joy and peace and, through bowing to temptation, a person experiences loss of happiness and the onset of bondage. The example of the legend of the “Legavaan” (monitor lizard) is appropriate to describe the state of the sinner. The story is told of the Legavaan which was trying to escape from dogs chasing it down. It came across a man and begged him to allow it to “hide” inside the man till the dogs were gone. The man was doubtful at first but, after getting a guarantee that it would leave him immediately afterwards, he swallowed it. Little did he know that this little creature was going to make cruel demands upon him. When the dogs were gone the Legavaan said to the man, “it is warm and comfortable inside here – let me stay for the day”. But the man experienced discomfort in his stomach. All that he ate was eaten by this creature. It then demanded to stay another day, and then another. The man was feeling sickly and decided to “starve the Legavaan out”. Just like those who assume that praying more and fasting seriously, will get rid of sin within them. However, like the Legavaan, sin grows and refuses to leave. Soon the creature, not receiving any more food, began to eat his innards. It was the death of the man who thought he was only “helping out” on a temporary basis.
Various sins get into people and destroy them. Jealousy, anger, grudges, bitterness, promiscuity – all these things get into people who cannot free themselves. There is a “surgeon” who can help. He can operate and remove the wickedness which eats us up. Jesus is the only one who can deliver us from the power of sin. He gave His own life to do that. Now, give yourself to Him. Allow Him to wash you “whiter than snow”.