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Plans for YouthLink 2000 take shape; 200,000 youth in 7 cities anticipated


ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–On Dec. 28, 1999, Arizona Baptists will form a convoy of buses, church vans and other vehicles to move 1,500 students, statewide, to Anaheim, Calif., for YouthLink 2000.
The Hawaii Baptist Convention is running a half-page ad in its state paper to encourage students to travel 4,000 miles to Houston. A church group from North Carolina is checking train fares to Tampa, Fla.
Last February, one church alone, Bellevue Baptist in the Memphis area, registered 600. Its high school students are bound for the YouthLink 2000 event in St. Louis; junior high students will be in Atlanta.
These groups will be part of a massive migration across the country one year from now as 200,000 students (ages 13-22) congregate in seven cities to participate in a unique millennium event with a clear Christian purpose — YouthLink 2000.
They will be heading to seven cities: Anaheim, Atlanta, Denver, Houston, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Tampa. For two days and three nights — Dec. 29-31, 1999 — this unprecedented student gathering will celebrate this historic New Year’s Eve “together,” as the seven venues are tied by satellite.
John Long, director of missions for the Baldwin Baptist Association in Silver Hill, Ala., said 28 buses will be chartered to take 1,000 students and 250 chaperones from its 58 churches to the event in Atlanta. Their plan is to pick up students at their five county high schools–“not only church kids,” Long said, “but many who are unchurched.
“I can envision that 10 percent of the kids who attend YouthLink 2000 will accept the Lord–that is 100 new Christians,” he continued. “I can also envision 50 of our students will be called into Christian service. … We are just dreaming about what will happen in our high schools when on Jan. 4, 2000, our 1,000 kids return from YouthLink 2000.”
YouthLink 2000 currently is securing top speakers (such as Buster Soaries, Josh McDowell and Louie Giglio); musicians (including Rebecca St. James, the Supertones, Jaci Velasquez, Audio Adrenaline and Out of Eden); and Christian sports figures/dramatists/ humorists for each city. They will lead in heart-changing worship and celebration each morning and evening — with emphases on relationships, missions, evangelism and personal commitment.
These moments will be set against time for action as each afternoon, thousands of committed students roll up their sleeves and fan out over each city to help people in need. Projects will include food and clothing distribution and creative arts (puppetry, clowning and mime).
Those who arrive early in each city may participate in a Crossover mass evangelism event organized through the North American Mission Board for Tuesday through Wednesday afternoon.
One hour before midnight on Friday, New Year’s Eve, 1999, parents are invited to circle each venue and pray for the students as they “ring in” the year 2000.
YouthLink 2000 will be the single largest event for young people in Southern Baptist history. Its sponsors are LifeWay Christian Resources, the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board and the Woman’s Missionary Union).
Andrew Large, who is organizing the group from Hawaii, said, “Ever since I heard about YouthLink 2000 in 1991, I knew that wherever in the world I was, I would want to participate.
“Being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we don’t have access to big conferences.Our students have seen 10,000 before. They have never seen 60,000. That’s what we will have in the Houston Astrodome.”
Teenagers today want to be part of something big, he continued. “I see this as a huge, huge thing for all these kids. I think that they will have it forever embedded in their memories, where they were on New Year’s Eve 1999. I want them to remember on that night, they were worshiping God together.
“Who knows, out of the 150 we take, one kid may surrender to missions, work in our multicultural setting for awhile and then end up in China where the growth of the world is taking place. Wouldn’t that be something?”
For more information about YouthLink 2000, call 1-888-YOUTHLK or check the Internet site: youthlink2000.org.