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Agency leaders reiterate commitment to YouthLink 2000, urge attendance

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–With YouthLink 2000 registration appearing to gain momentum with an increase of more than 3,000 between Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, executives of the four sponsoring agencies reaffirmed their commitment to the Dec. 29-31 event slated for seven locations throughout the United States.
The Nov. 5 registration total of 43,763 from 41 states and three foreign countries represents a gain of 3,066 since Oct. 29. Planners also reported a significant increase in phone calls to the site offices and toll-free information number.
YouthLink 2000 will take place in Anaheim, Calif.; Atlanta, Ga.; Denver, Colo.; Houston, Texas; Philadelphia, Pa.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Tampa, Fla.; In addition to activities at each location, the sites will be linked by satellite for special features. Also, there will be live satellite feeds from the Holy Land several times during the conference.
Dean Finley, North American Mission Board, and Richard Ross, LifeWay Christian Resources are co-chairing the event which is sponsored by NAMB, LifeWay, International Mission Board and Woman’s Missionary Union. More than 1,000 leaders from SBC agencies, state conventions and churches are involved in YouthLink planning.
Registration by site, also as of Nov. 5, was: Anaheim, 3,800; Atlanta, 13,488; Denver, 1,911; Houston, 9,081; Philadelphia, 1,507; St. Louis, 8,903; and Tampa, 5,073.
The four leaders of the sponsoring organizations emphasized the significance of YouthLink 2000 in allowing young people to hear and respond to God’s call to ministry and missions and challenging them to a lifestyle of Christian service.
NAMB President Bob Reccord encouraged pastors, youth leaders and parents to help their students attended “this momentous event. I believe God’s Spirit is going to move in the lives of thousands of young people, calling out the next generation to be ‘on mission Christians.’ These three days may prove to be pivotal in reaching North America and the world for Jesus Christ in the next century.”
IMB President Jerry Rankin said YouthLink is a time for the next generation of missionaries to “catch the vision” of service.
“God is calling out Southern Baptists in unprecedented numbers for missionary service, from students to senior citizens. YouthLink is a fantastic opportunity for the next generation of missionaries to catch a vision for being on mission with God in the 21st century. It would be a shame for any church to deprive its young people of participating in this end-of-the-century challenge to missions commitment,” Rankin said.
June Whitlow, WMU senior associate executive director, said the agency’s commitment to YouthLink 2000 includes providing 13 national staff members in leadership roles at various locations and exhibits to encourage mission support. In addition, many state WMU leaders are involved.
LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr. said he is praying “that thousands more teenagers and their parents will make plans to attend YouthLink 2000 in the coming weeks. We consider this once-in-a-lifetime event an investment in the future of our denomination and the world. Who can imagine what God can do in the lives of these young people gathered simultaneously to focus their attention on him. Let us all pray that God will do a mighty, life-changing work through YouthLink 2000.”
Ross and Finley said YouthLink planners have identified four key prayer requests regarding YouthLink 2000. He urged Southern Baptists — in their personal devotional times, in Sunday school classes and worship services — to pray that: (1) more teenagers will be saved at YouthLink 2000 than at any one time in Christian history; (2) God will call out more than 1,000 career missionaries and 1,500 pastors and church leaders; (3) the majority of youth and adults present will accept a challenge to share the gospel with every lost American teenager by the end of the year 2000; and (4) the majority attending YouthLink 2000 will adopt a lifestyle of missions support, involvement, giving and prayer.
Ross said changes have been made at two sites to locate participants in a more appropriately sized facility. In Philadelphia, YouthLink 2000 will be moved from the convention center to the 2,800-seat ballroom of the Marriott Hotel. In Tampa, the exhibits and bookstore have been moved to the Ice Palace arena, site of the five celebration services.
Also, in addition to the three-day registration fee of $90 which includes five sessions and two afternoons of mission projects, day passes are now available for $45. They include the choice of any two sessions and one mission project.
Ross urged parents who would like to spend the arrival of 2000 with their teenagers to consider attending YouthLink 2000 as a family.
“In my own church, fully a third of the 140 traveling to YouthLink will be parents who want to experience this historic moment as families. Concerned parents do not want to risk their teenagers missing a mighty movement of God,” he said.
Finley said leaders with concerns regarding Y2K have been advised of options such as leaving after the Friday afternoon mission projects to return home before midnight. He said positive media reports of Y2K testing and preparations are causing some churches to decide to become involved in YouthLink 2000.
Information about YouthLink 2000 is available by calling 1-888-YOUTHLK or visiting the Web site at www.youthlink2000.org. To register, call 1-800-254-2022.

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  • Linda Lawson