Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the SBC of Virginia chose to move the 2021 Youth Evangelism Conference (YEC) from a typical in-person gathering to a virtual event. But would it have the same effect and reach?
First Baptist Church of Martinsburg, WV (FBCM) is a normative size church founded in 1869. They currently have a student ministry of 20 active students. The goal of the student ministry is that kids would grow into fully devoted followers of Jesus.
Just after the recording of YEC in January, God was at work in the heart of family life pastor Jason Dubea to lead his students through a YEC-type weekend. He planned a lock-in with a component of games like Nerf war and “The Floor Is Lava,” along with periodic opportunities for the preaching of God’s Word and worship through music. SBCV’s YEC Replay provided the resources he needed for the messages and music.
“It was a free, quality resource,” said Dubea, “…and those hard-hitting biblical messages [by Ryan Fontenot] were just what our students at FBCM needed to hear.”
God went to work in the hearts of the students on the Friday evening of the lock-in. Pastor Dubea shared, “The last message of the evening, ‘Why Does the Cross Matter?’, sealed the deal as one boy previously hardened to the Gospel was broken and came to me and gave his heart to Christ.” Two more boys came to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus as Savior. All three (one 8th grader and two 9th graders) were baptized on Easter Sunday 2021.
They are now faithfully attending Sunday morning and Wednesday evening gatherings, are bringing others to church with them, are involved in serving in children’s ministry, and are encouraging other students at FBCM to serve with them. Dubea remarked, “The presence and maturity of these three boys is a great influence on
Pastor Dubea expressed gratitude for the faithful adult volunteers who served at the lock-in. Without them, Dubea wonders if he may not have been as attentive to the work of the Holy Spirit in the students’ lives. He also gave thanks for the virtual YEC, which enabled his church to see students impacted by the Gospel and equipped to share the RE:ASON for the hope that they have (I Peter 3:15, the YEC theme verse). Dubea’s heart’s desire is that FBCM’s culture of students following Christ will outlive his ministry there.