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“I learned that you don’t have to fix all your problems before believing in God.”

That was the take-away for Nicole Yearley after attending this year’s All Ontario Youth Convention. Held in May in Waterloo, Ontario, this year’s theme was “180,” as youths learned that God’s promise of a new heart and a new spirit can cause a 180-degree turn in people’s lives.

More than 900 youths and leaders attended this year’s convention as hundreds more from as far away as Europe and South America followed via live-streaming. Speakers Justin Lookadoo, Bob Benz, and Amanda Bakale were joined by Rend Collective Experiment, a band from Northern Ireland.

“I really loved the genuine subjects that Justin Lookadoo spoke to us about,” said Melissa Wolting of Chatham. “The way he talked . . .  really engaged every member of the audience. I also really loved Rend Collective.”

By the end of the weekend, more than 30 teens had made the decision for the first time to follow Christ, and many other teens and leaders received one-on-one prayer and encouragement.

Convention chair Tim Scholman said an added goal this year was to provide greater support of youth leaders in their year-round work. Leaders were met with a special reception during registration, given opportunity to meet with a spiritual director, and attended two sessions by James Penner, author of Hemorrhaging Faith, who challenged and encouraged youth leaders to model authentic faith.

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