Global YSA Conference for Youth from Japan, Korea, Guam and Micronesia

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints held the ‘Areawide YSA Conference 2019 (AYC 2019)’ for the Young Single Adults (YSA) in the Asia North Area on August 15-17. In this Conference, which was held at Kyonggi University Suwon Campus under the theme of “Be One in Christ”, around 1300 YSA from Korea, Japan, Guam, and Micronesia were united on a firm gospel foundation despite differences in language, cultural background, and social status.

 At the opening ceremony, Elder Yoon Hwan Choi, President of the Asia North Area, reminded everyone of the purpose of the Conference with the following message, “I hope we can love one another as we love our Heavenly Father. … There is a lot of confusion and conflict in the world, but we can still be one in Jesus Christ.”   

Such a large-scale, multinational event like this is unprecedented in the Asia North Area. 
About 20 participants from different countries comprised a group, and a total of 66 groups were formed. 

With more than 200 volunteers from various countries supporting with translation, facilities, and operations, the total number of the participants in the Conference reached more than 1500. 

Detailed preparation was needed for communication, such as placing multi-lingual participants in each group to interpret and offering mobile apps for interpretation services. There were also many participants who studied other languages personally for several months to prepare for the Conference. This preparation shone through programs like seminars, conversations and discussions, morning and evening prayers, and insight sharing. Participants broke down language barriers with mutual respect and consideration, opening their hearts and sharing their thoughts and sincere feelings with each other. They also cultivated teamwork by completing assigned missions and dynamic activities. Friendships grew by sharing talents and passion through cultural performances. 

Regardless of nationality, the youth already had testimonies of Jesus Christ and had ‘the cultural background of the church’ based on similar gospel values. It didn’t take long for the participants to overcome language barriers and to accept one another as friends and family.

Nakazawa, a participant from Matsudo, Japan, said, “At first, we had a lot of difficulties because of language, but our team members tried to learn about one another and to communicate. … We gradually became friends and I felt our group became ‘one’.”

Soo-yeon from Seoul said, “We saw a miracle as we became one in Christ, when members with different nationalities, different colors and different languages sang the same Hymn, shared the same testimony of Jesus Christ, and could see Heavenly Father’s love through our members’ hands.” 

The Asia North Area Presidency also provided opportunities for the YSAs to be spiritually inspired as they delivered the words of Jesus Christ at Devotional meetings.  

Elder L. Todd Budge, Second Counselor in the Area Presidency, gave a talk on being one with Christ in expectation. “Usually we feel happy when results are better than our expectation, and feel the opposite when results don’t meet our expectation. The Lord brings us salvation according to His own plans in His timing.” Elder Budge encouraged frustrated YSAs whose desires haven’t come true yet to keep their faith and trust in the Lord. 

Elder Takashi Wada, First Counselor, quoted the Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, to encourage the YSAs to participate in the gathering of Israel. “We invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, receive the blessings of the holy temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal life.”

Elder Yoon Hwan Choi, President of the Area, referred to the “Lion King”, a recently made live-action movie. He reminded the YSAs of their identity and values based on gospel principles which were found in the movie. 

 “Simba’s Uncle Scar tried to pull Simba down into darkness by talking about life in a negative way. However, Simba’s father, Mufasa, said, ‘Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance.’ I hope Mufasa reminds you of our Heavenly Father. He always wants to guide us to the light. … Think of who you are, and who you will become.“

The highlight of the Conference was the ‘YSA Culture Festival’ at the Teleconvention Center on the second night. Participants from different countries with various talents showed beatboxing, loop station, popping dance, K-POP dance, piano performances, ballads, band and choir performances. Everyone shouted out cheers and gave the performers a big hand. 

Uniquely, the program was carried out in a theatrical way. Each performance was arranged as musical sequences in a play. The play, ‘Friendship Built by Two Characters from Different Countries Despite Their Language Barriers’ was a touching music drama which included each performance. 

Through a special video message, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told the youth, “This is the time when together we can see the future and its brightness, and we can see that all things are possible when we have faith in the Lord, do our very best, and help each other. I pray this would be a wonderful time for each of you individually and for you collectively”  

"I met many Korean friends when I was studying in Utah. They were all kind people, and I came to like Koreans a lot. As part of preparation for the youth conference, I studied Korean by watching Korean dramas for about a week. There were some friends who had concerns about going to Korea's youth conference because of international diplomatic issues, but I think we can all love each other to follow Christ without being influenced by the worldly things," said Sis. Kyoko Yoshida of Nagoya Stake in Japan.

Also, Kobe Stake’s Sis. Ikeda said, "I learned that through the gospel we can interact with young Koreans and move toward the same goals despite having different cultures and habits. All the Korean members were always kind, interesting, and full of love. Thanks to them, Japanese members also opened their hearts, and it's good to be able to say that everyone will continue to be friends after the conference."

On the last day, during the closing ceremony, all participants witnessed that Elder Gong’s message had been fulfilled through the Conference. As the Asia North Area Presidency stood on the stage, everyone sang the hymn, “I Am a Child of God” in their own language. The lyrics of this hymn teach that all human beings are children of God and members of His eternal family. Everyone is born to this world to experience greater opportunities to learn and progress according to God’s special plan for each one of us. As “I Am a Child of God” filled the Teleconvention Center of Kyonggi University, the Conference theme “Be One in Christ” was deeply engraved in everyone’s hearts. Kanasa, a participant and a member of a J-Pop group “Bless4”, teared up while singing on the stage, overwhelmed by the Spirit. 

 “Although we all came from different countries and islands, we can be true to ourselves and build love and friendship because of the Gospel, just like the Conference theme. We could see the influence of the Gospel during the Conference,” Matheus from Micronesia said. After we overcome many differences and become one in the gospel of Christ, we one-by-one look forward to shining our light to change the world.

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