World youth conference closes in style


Atteridgeville, Gauteng, South Africa

Renowned brain surgeon Dr Ben Carson this past weekend implored Seventh-day Adventist youth to exercise their willpower and remain committed to God in a series of three speeches to the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s world youth conference.

Never get too big for God, never deny God, no matter where he takes you, no matter what roles you’re in.

Carson served for more than two and a half decades as chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, and was a key presenter at Impact South Africa. The event has drawn more than 3100 Adventist youth and young adults from around the globe for two weeks of community service, workshops and worship.

“God has given each one of us something that is extraordinarily special. It’s called willpower. You don’t have to give in,” Carson said of things than can divert young people from realising their full potential.

During Saturday morning’s Sabbath worship service, Carson also recounted his experiences in becoming a neurosurgeon, as told in his book Gifted Hands. He credited God for allowing him to make an impact through his career, despite it turning out differently than his childhood ambition of becoming a missionary doctor.

“Never get too big for God, never deny God, no matter where he takes you, no matter what roles you’re in,” Carson said. “If you put him first in your life, you will be extraordinarily successful.” 

In the audience, Argentinian Ezequiel Durán, 26, said Carson’s speeches were some of the conference’s highlights for him. “He is a good leader and example for young people. He dedicated his whole life to God. I like that.”


Seventh-day Adventist Church member Dr Ben Carson speaks at Impact South Africa, the Adventist Church’s world youth conference in Pretoria on Friday, July 12. He invoked Romans 8:31—”If God is for us, who can be against us.” [Photo courtesy: Daryl Gungadoo]

On Saturday, Carson and other presenters spoke to an audience of more than 18000—youth conference attendees and community members—at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium in this suburb of the national capital of Pretoria.

In a sermon, Adventist Church President Ted Wilson similarly affirmed youth and urged them to continue carrying out the Adventist Church’s mission.

“We love you and we’re counting on you for the future,” Wilson said. “Impact your city. Impact your country. My brothers and sisters, impact the world for Jesus Christ!”

Indeed, Shereen Rodney, 24, from the United Kingdom, said she came to the conference for the community service work that some 1000 attendees gave during the conference’s first week. In a stadium seat, she said, “We’re looking to replicate some of these things when we go back home. It’s going to be like a chain reaction.”

Gilbert Cangy, director of the Adventist Church’s Youth Ministries and organiser of the conference, said the event successfully integrated youth from around the world as a family of faith.

“We truly embraced diversity at this event,” Cangy said. “There was a place at this conference for everyone—from every country, from every culture.”

Celina Sunder Singh, 20, from India, said the conference offered her the chance to meet new people in a supportive environment. “It’s nice to know so many people having the same faith as you, and learning a few words in every language was fun,” she said. “My favorite was Spanish.”

More than 18,000 people attended a Sabbath worship service at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium on Saturday, July 13. The large-scale service was held on the final day of Impact South Africa, the Adventist Church’s world youth congress. [Photo courtesy: Ansel Oliver]

Following the morning service, dozens of attendees traveled throughout nearby neighbourhoods to distribute 20,000 copies of the book The Great Hope. The book is an abbreviated version of Adventist Church co-founder Ellen White’s touchstone book, The Great Controversy.

On Saturday evening, back at the conference’s base at the Saint George Hotel & Convention Centre, a report was given from the final of the denomination’s 13 world divisions. Each regional administration presented throughout the week, with colourful national garb and video reports.

Cangy also thanked his team of organisers, who helped coordinate everything from service projects and workshops to producing evening worship services that featured music and preaching by evangelist David Asscherick.

“By God’s grace we’re finishing well,” Cangy said. “We give God all the glory and we’re grateful for His gracious spirit.”

—see more photos of Impact South Africa at the ANN Flickr account