“The Holy Spirit was the real star as we learned together to lean in and follow His lead,” says Pastor Tan Szet Anne, Youth Alive Malaysia’s national youth director.
She was recounting the events of Empowered 2023, a national youth conference organised by Youth Alive Malaysia (the youth arm of Assemblies of God in Malaysia) held on 20-22 February 2023.
Attended by more than 100 youths and youth leaders hailing from 21 churches, the conference aimed to relight a spark within Malaysian Christian youths after several challenging years.
The two days were filled with God encounters, laughter, fellowship and a great sense of unity. Youths as young as 12 years old right up to college students stood beside youth leaders and pastors in worship.
“We have been receiving testimonies from youths of how the conference had been a pivotal point to break down walls in their hearts, turn from their old ways and call them back to fully surrender themselves to God,” she shares.
An eagerness to linger and desire to go deeper
Held at His Sanctuary of Glory Church in KL, the conference (Youth Alive’s first gathering since the pandemic) aimed to equip and mobilise Gen Zers to reach their own generation with the Gospel through workshops and night rallies.
Topics were carefully selected to cover the importance of a consecrated life alongside practical ministry application, and in-house speakers shared what was on their hearts.
Many felt God’s presence tangibly, with youths staying at the altar in worship as they encountered the Holy Spirit; Pr Tan calls it a “glimpse of revival”.
“There was an eagerness to linger in His presence, a desire to dive deeper, a hunger for His Word, a commitment to repent, a willingness to be set apart, a yearning to be empowered and a resolve to reach out,” she shares.
She was also personally encouraged to see how the Holy Spirit, through the different speakers, emphasised a clear message: to repent from compromised lifestyles and return to the unchanging truth of God’s Word.
No more sugar-coating the call of Christianity
“In the day and age where there are too many opinions and half-truths, I believe that youths today long to hear uncompromising truths about God and life. They can take it without the sugar-coating,” Pr Tan says with conviction.
Her hope is that Malaysian Christian youths will dig deep into the Word of God, lean into the Holy Spirit, choose to stand for their faith even if it’s asymmetrical to the world and normalise sharing about Jesus.
“Just as Scripture exhorts us to repent and be baptised, we need to turn away from the ways of the world and commit wholeheartedly to following Jesus,” she says. “Let’s not complain anymore about the brokenness of our situations but instead set an example in life, faith and purity.”
“Don’t give the world the liberty to define your identity, emotions and belief system”
The last few years have been challenging for the global Church, and Malaysia has not been exempt. Youth ministries and leaders have struggled, but the time to rebuild has come.
“There is a call upon us to stir the pot and prepare the ground, to come back to the essentials of our faith and be a prophetic voice to a generation that is lost in the noise,” Pr Tan shares.
She challenges Malaysian Christian youths to play an active role in their youth groups and Christian Fellowships, to rebuild with the Great Commission at the core.
With the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in everyday life, we have the power to extend His kingdom here on earth.
“Gather with like-minded believers, on your own if you have to, and consistently seek His face and pray for your generation. Don’t give the world the liberty to define your identity, emotions and belief system,” she charges.
The embers of revival are beginning to glow
Hot on the heels of Empowered 2023 is the Youth Enrichment School (Y.E.S.), which Youth Alive Malaysia hopes will continue to equip and mobilise youth for the call of Christ.
This year, Y.E.S. will be a week-long school at the Bible College of Malaysia from 20-26 March 2023, with classes and ministry opportunities in different churches and areas. Youths can look forward to learning more about theology while building friendships with the larger body of Christ.
“I believe that a revival is coming and that it has already begun, and it will be birthed out of this Gen Z,” Pr Tan says, encouraging youths, especially school leavers or college students on break, to sign up for Y.E.S.
Y.E.S. has been running for over a decade with hundreds of young people returning to their home churches, reignited and passionate for God and serving. Some have also gone into full-time ministry.
“The empowerment of the Holy Spirit is not just an experience but a very real indwelling and manifestation of God’s power in everyday life for the extension of His kingdom here on earth. Every youth has the potential and ability to carry the anointing and empowerment if they are so willing, to bring healing and salvation to the world around them,” Pr Tan says.
Look out for the testimonies of Empowered 2023 attendees Jonathan, Ying Xin and Pr Jon coming out next week! To find out more about Y.E.S., fill out your form of interest here.
All photos provided by Youth Alive Malaysia.