Youth Bring Connection to Hayden
A crowd of youth surrounded a long line of tables. Some were using colorful markers to write Bible promises on index cards. Others were placing those promises, along with health fliers and copies of The Great Controversy, in plastic bags. After two hours, 1,000 bags were ready to go. The next day, on Sabbath afternoon, the young people distributed every bag to homes around Hayden, Idaho.
These kids were participating in a weekend event known as Adventist Youth on a Mission Northwest, a youth-led retreat focused on outreach and strengthening character for eternity. About 80 young people, along with their families, showed up for the retreat and participated in physical recreation, outreach, and youth-led and youth-focused meetings.
AYM Northwest is an organization run by youth and for youth. Two retreats are held each year — one in winter and another in fall. These events are especially for ages 12–20, but all ages are welcome.
An AYM retreat is more than a weekend of meetings. Youth from all over the Northwest come together and participate in physical recreation like hiking and ice skating. They also take part in outreach activities. In fact, outreach is a central part of each retreat, and all attendees are highly encouraged to participate. And, of course, there are inspiring sermons preached by youth, along with youth-led group discussions and prayer groups.
Each session has a particular theme. The fall 2020 theme was “Connected.” Each presentation and discussion focused on being connected with Christ — how to be connected, how to stay connected and how to strengthen that vital connection. Youth as young as 14 gave inspiring, motivating messages.
AYM began in 2018, when a small group of friends started talking about getting together to go ice skating. As they began making plans, they decided to include outreach as well. They kept brainstorming, and the idea kept growing until they had formulated a schedule to meet all day Friday and Sabbath, complete with ice skating, outreach and youth meetings. They called the event “Winter Youth Retreat,” or WYR. They invited a few more friends and were amazed when more than 50 people signed up.
As this first retreat drew to a close, people kept asking when the next one would be. Those who had planned the retreat prayerfully considered holding another retreat and decided it was a great idea. They also decided to call the movement Adventist Youth on a Mission. The group’s website explains, “We chose the name … because we as Seventh-day Adventist young people are on a mission, aiming to impact the Northwest for Christ.”
AYM’s vision is to help youth see how God can work in them and through them in a mighty way. AYM seeks to inspire youth to step out in faith for God not just at the retreats but also back in their own homes and communities. The ultimate goal is to light a fire in the hearts of the young people — an unquenchable fire that drives them to work for Him wherever they may be.