Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”
That verse from Isaiah 1 was the theme when 950 teens gathered in Bozeman, Mont., for Youth Unlimited’s annual convention in July.
Headline speakers and artists included popular veteran worship band Pocket Full of Rocks and activist/speaker Shane Claiborne.
Claiborne is the founder of The Simple Way, a Philadelphia community patterned after the first New Testament churches. By most accounts, his message struck a deep chord with the Christian Reformed teens.
“He’s such an engaging speaker,” said 18-year-old conventioneer Olivia Santana of Matteson, Ill. “Just hearing his story, hearing about being in your own neighborhood and making a difference in the city you live in, brought it closer to home.”
Claiborne’s live-as-Jesus-really-would ideals resonated with the teens. “I just really appreciate what he’s doing,” said Steve Clemmons, a 16-year-old from Bradenton, Fla., who was attending his first Youth Unlimited convention. “He’s talking about how he’s taking everything Jesus says so literally, trying to live just like him.”
The convention theme, “Right the Wrong,” sunk in as the conventioneers made their way back to their homes across Canada and the U.S.
“One of the things that really hit me was [the idea that] before you can right the wrong in the world, you have to right the wrong in your own life,” Santana summarized. “Before you can affect others, you have to be a good example and make sure you’re living your life the right way.”