RISE UP”: Territorial Youth Institute

By: Major Tim Gilliam

This year’s Territorial Youth Institute (TYI) took place at beautiful Camp Walter Johnson, near Denton, North Carolina. Teens and young adults gathered from all around the Southeastern United States to celebrate the theme, “Rise Up.” The theme was a continuation of the new territorial youth ministry strategy known as “RAISE”, based on Proverbs 22:6 which says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”

The RAISE youth ministry strategy is broken down into three mission priorities: 

  1. Evangelism 
  2. Discipleship 
  3. Leadership development

Those three priorities were emphasized during TYI through anointed preaching, expert teaching, vibrant worship, diverse electives, lively discussion groups, and exciting forms of fellowship. Special guests this year included Jeniffer Dake (Morning Manna Speaker), Aaron McClain (Worship Leader), and Jason Hildebrand (Creative Performance Artist). 

The days tended to be rather intense as they were filled with breakdowns of God’s Word, deep discussions, challenging teaching, and fervent prayer times. During the evening programs the mood was usually lightened a bit, as they took on the form of things like:

  • Monday – The Masked Singer 
  • Tuesday – Murder Mystery Dinner Theater 
  • Wednesday – Environmental Awareness Night 
  • Thursday – Jesus Stories (A One-Man Show) 
  • Friday – Capture the Flag & Glow Party 
  • Saturday – Color Run 
  • Sunday – Hawaiian Awards Night & Electives Showcase

Special guest, Jeniffer Dake, took the delegation on a six-day journey through John chapter 11 and the story of Lazarus’ death and resurrection. She reminded everyone of the raw emotions displayed to Jesus by Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, showing that it’s okay to be honest with our feelings when we talk to God. Jeniffer showed, through the Scripture, that Jesus loves us so much, that He takes on our emotions and hurts when we hurt. Ultimately, however, Jeniffer taught everyone that Jesus is never late—He is always on time and has the power to overcome anything, even death! 

Most of the delegates praised this year’s TYI. One delegate, Alexandra Crowder from the Kentucky & Tennessee Division, said, “Words can’t describe how much I enjoyed TYI this year! I was able to make new friends, grow closer to people in my division, and most importantly strengthen my relationship with God! Can’t wait to do it all again next year.” 

One of the officer staff members said, “We make a mistake thinking that TYI is just for the young people. My soul needs to be refreshed too and TYI is just what the doctor ordered!” 

The staff at Camp Walter Johnson did everything they could to wrap-up their daily work assignments as quickly as possible so they could attend the worship sessions, electives, and other TYI activities themselves. The Divisional Youth Secretaries, Majors Jay and Jamie Spalding, were happy to allow their staff to join in. 

The territorial youth secretary (TYS), Major Tim Gilliam, preached the final message of the week. He told the congregation that the same power that raised Lazarus from the dead is available to each of us today. The TYS also gave a history lesson on how the young shepherd boy, David, who was the least in his family and had no formal education or military training was selected and anointed by God to lead the nation of Israel as its king. And if God can use an uneducated boy who tended sheep to lead His chosen people, He could certainly use any one of us to fulfill the Lord’s Kingdom destiny. Major Gilliam said, “You have no adequate excuse not to be a leader in your corps and community! It’s time to RISE UP and take your rightful spot in God’s plan!” 

After a meaningful response to the final message, an invitation was also given to anyone sensing God’s call on their life to be a Salvation Army officer. Twenty-one young adults came forward in response to the call for officership! 

Despite what we see on the news and hear in the media, the future of The Salvation Army is bright! Our young people are hungry for God’s Word and have a desire to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in their lives. TYI is instrumental in giving our young people the tools and resources to RISE UP in their walk with the Lord.