Army of Youth is a new Adventist online community and resource website from Generation of Youth for Christ (GYC). According to their website, AOY provides "networking, resources, training, and ministry opportunities for young people who are serious about taking the three angels’ messages to the entire world."
Even though the website has been up for only a few months, it already has over 2,264 users from 70 countries around the world (as of May 2008).
We spoke with Joe Reeves, who is part of the team at Army of Youth on the success of the website and what it hopes to accomplish:
A Sabbath Blog: Tell me a bit about Army of Youth. What are it's missions, it's goals. What do you hope to accomplish with AOY?
Joe Reeves: I, along with the others on this team, pray that this site will help bring Adventist youth together throughout the year from around the world, not based on entertainment, but based on a united interest of pleasing God in all things and working tirelessly to share the good news of Jesus Christ and His soon advent with this generation.
The Army of Youth website is designed to meet the needs of God fearing, mission driven Seventh-day Adventist young people. AOY seeks to enlist, connect, equip and deploy a movement of Adventist young people who will fully embrace the responsibility of carrying the three angels' messages to the world in this generation.
Thus the website is broken into four sections: enlist, connect, equip, and deploy. Young people must first enlist as a member of AOY before gaining access to all of the features of the website.
A Sabbath Blog: So why create a website specifically for youth?
Joe Reeves: That is an interesting question, and a good one. "Why have youth rallies? Why have youth Sabbath Schools? Why have youth summer camps?" Everyone doing youth programs has reasons why it's important.
Army of Youth has created this website because this is what our youth are looking for and need. And youth will be the quickest to use our services. We do not want to exclude any age group from this website. In fact, we welcome anybody regardless of age to join who thinks they can use the services of AOY or contribute to the purpose of AOY. Even the most popular social networking sites on the internet are open to all ages, but young people dominate these sites because they are more inclined to use this new technological method of socializing.
Typically, younger people are seeking a challenge, a mission; and they're also looking for identity and belonging. Army of Youth wants to give our youth the gospel commission and Godly living as a 21st century challenge, and give these youth identity and belonging as part of God's people within the Seventh-day Adventist church.
A Sabbath Blog: Who should join, or "enlist," in Army of Youth?
Joes Reeves: Anybody who accepts the Army of Youth challenge and agrees to the rules of engagement is welcome to enlist. The website was primarily designed to serve Seventh-day Adventist young people who take their beliefs and mission seriously. But we hope that all who could use the services of AOY or contribute to the purpose of AOY will join, including pastors, ministry representatives, speakers, and parents.
A Sabbath Blog: Why should someone switch from their MySpace or Facebook sites and join AOY?
Joes Reeves: MySpace and Facebook promote a worldly culture that revolves around self. You will never see nasty banner ads on AOY. These other sites are a good place to meet worldly friends, but AOY is a good place to meet the Christian friends you're looking for. AOY is a safe place where you are encouraged to express your faith, your struggles, your victories, and your dreams without feeling out of place or fighting peer pressure. The ungodly atmosphere of these other sites makes most users timid with their faith and bold in their display of doubtful content. AOY tends towards an opposite effect to that of Myspace or Facebook.
A Sabbath Blog: There has been talk about the need for an Adventist MySpace by the Youth Department at the General Conference. Is this that website?
Joe Reeves: I first heard about what the Youth Department of the General Conference is planning after we were nearing the public release of our site. Youth workers everywhere are recognizing the need for these types of services.
You can learn more about Army of Youth and join at http://www.armyofyouth.org/. You can also add us to your platoon.