Rev. Mahtani is pastor of Trinity Protestant Reformed Church in Houston, Texas.
When I received the invitation to speak at this year’s Young People’s Convention, I joyfully accepted it on account of my background and association with the young saints in Singapore. Quite honestly, however, I was also apprehensive because of some “horror stories” I had heard about our YP’s conventions!
This year’s YPs Convention was sponsored by Grandville Protestant Reformed Church and was held at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. As I sit back to reflect upon the blessed moments I was given to enjoy with our precious covenant youth, I am filled with thanksgiving to God. I have come away from the convention with renewed inspiration to labor as a minister.
I trust that many, if not all of those who attended this year’s convention, will echo my impressions expressed here. I do not say that our young people are perfect. They are not. I cannot say there were not things I heard or saw which I did not like. There were. I also am aware that others have had different and maybe contrary experiences in past conventions. But I believe our faithful God and Father is graciously blessing our covenant children and youth, and that we can be thankful for that. May what I write be an encouragement to the godly parents and teachers, preachers and congregations, who continue to raise and nurture sons and daughters in the fear of the Lord!
The theme of the Convention this year was “Courageous Christian Youth.” Most appropriately, Grandville’s Young People’s Society chose Daniel as the godly example for our young people today to follow. Amidst the Babylon of this world, the remnant seed of God is called to stand by faith! I found myself first speaker on a hot Monday evening. And was it hot in Michigan! I have spoken in crowded Singapore and now I am experiencing Houston’s hot and humid summers! But, quite honestly, I have never before spoken to a crowd fanning and wiping at the beginning of a speech, clearly expressing: “Let us get out of here!” As I stood before the 350 youth, I knew my speech had to be abbreviated.
The subject given to me was “Daniel—A Faithful Prayer Life.” What a wonderful thing to know that our young people are interested in the subject of prayer! The discussion groups the next morning were on the related subject of devotions. The young saints struggle with this matter. In my opinion, our young people need more encouragement from our parents and teachers, both by instruction as well as by godly example, on the importance of daily personal devotions. The fact that they honestly spoke about this lack was indication of genuine effort, and the more blessed evidence of life and spirituality.
It was not exactly fair, but the speakers that followed me were given the luxury of a fan. Pastor Terpstra gave a stirring message on “Daniel’s Bold Witness.” I was in seminary the same time as Pastor Terpstra some ten years ago, and it was good to be in the same convention with him now. Sitting in the audience with the young people was also a good experience for me. Except for the fanning and wiping, it seemed as if the other speakers were able to get good attention from the young people. It was an excellent idea to have a teacher give the last speech. Mr. Cal Kalsbeek spoke on “Daniel’s Godly Choices.” His speech was well applied to the needs of our young people, especially the temptations they face. I came to the convention hoping to learn more about the needs of our youth, and the other speakers surely enlightened me! I wish I could have spoken last, not first!
There were other things I had to learn. I had to learn fast, for example, what “Twirp Day” is. And other bizarre things like that. There were quite a few activities very unfamiliar to me. We have fewer fun activities in our camps in Singapore, but I would not say the custom here is bad as such. Just different. The YE had bowling, swimming, canoeing. It was delightful to see ouyouth enjoy one another as covenant saints.
I had to disclose a secret to the young people. Fifteen years ago I found my beloved wife, and it was in one of our camps in Singapore. Is it so wrong to look for a mate at a Young People’s Convention? Bernie Kamps, master of ceremonies at the banquet, raised the concerns of the chaperons, I think, when he detailed every aspect of his first date.
It would be a mistake to end this article without a tribute to our youth! I think we ought to encourage our young people with regard to their impressive behavior, especially in public. More than once, onlookers at the beach, bowling alley, wherever we went, expressed surprise at the good behavior and manners of our young people. Apparently they were listening to our talk and watching closely our walk! And your young people surely sent a clear message! Let us continue to encourage our sons and daughters, that they show a good testimony not only in our presence but much more in our absence. Keep it up, young people! We thank God for you!
Parents, pastors, elders, teachers, let us be thankful! We, and our young people like us, are not perfect. But we may humbly rejoice in the Lord’s blessings and mercies!
I have been informed by others that this was one of the best conventions ever, and that there have been sad experiences in the past. Well, shall we forget the things which are behind and press forward?
I make bold to send in this tribute to our young people for publication. I do this with the prayer that we may all join to give thanks to God, and continue to pray earnestly for Jehovah’s continued blessings!
May the Lord in His mercy keep His covenant with us, with our children, and especially with our growing young people!