It was an emotional moment for 13-year-old Evie when she went forward to make a commitment to Christ at the recent KYCK youth conference in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.
Before that decisive moment, Evie had been afraid to publicly confess her faith to her friends at Alexandria Park Community School for fear of being thought too religious. But listening to speaker Dan Leach urging the youth to “swallow their pride, stand up and go out the back” encouraged Evie to make a stand for Jesus.
“I just saw so many other people stand up. I was like, ‘Oh, I want to be there. I want to be a Christian too, and I walked out the back,” Evie tells Eternity.
“As I was holding my friend’s hand who was going out the back with me, it was really great. It was a really happy feeling. I was crying too, to see all these other people out there who are committing themselves.”
Evie was one of 527 young people who made commitments over the three weekends of the KYCK conference in April, of which 112 were new commitments and the rest recommitments.
Having grown up in a Christian family, Evie had attended KYCK before, but it was only during the most recent weekend that she felt she wanted to own being a Christian.
“I feel like I’m closer to Jesus now. I always felt like I needed to pray for him to hear me before, but now I feel like I can just think and he’ll know, because like he’s closer. Since I saw other kids from my school there too, I’ve been willing to start a lunchtime group, and get to know more people who are Christian,” says Evie.
“I used to think if people knew I was Christian, they’d think I pray all the time, I’m so religious, and now I feel like ‘that’s fine if they think that’ – it’s great to be Christian.”
She also enjoyed being part of a Christian community while in the Blue Mountains with thousands of other kids.
“It was really fun, like a really big concert. When you walk into the big hall, everybody’s singing and dancing and there’s all these colourful lights everywhere, and games are being played. And then when you went to the Blue Mountains for your free time, there were all these other people that you could just walk past and be like, ‘Hi, you’re from KYCK!’”
It was a big year for the KYCK youth conference after having to do live streams in 2020 and observe density limits in 2021.
Andy Stevenson, KYCK Chair, says a total of 5300 young people attended the three weekends this year, with another 1000 already registered for the fourth weekend on September 23-25.
“So it will equal or surpass 2018 and 2019, when we had 6000 each of those years,” says Andy, who is also head of ministry support and training at Anglican Youthworks.
Like many others, Andy also came to faith during an evangelistic call at the Saturday night talk during KYCK.
“There are lots of cases where leaders have become Christians at KYCK. I made a commitment at my first KYCK in 1992, and I haven’t missed one since. Ian Powell [Senior Minister at St Matthew’s Anglican Church, Wanniassa, ACT] was the speaker and he gave a really clear presentation on heaven and hell.”
Andy individually knows all of the 100-plus youth ministry leaders who bring kids to KYCK.
“That’s key to what we do. It’s one giant youth camp. We partner with churches. I ring them and say ‘what do you need us to do to help you get here?’”
Andy explains that when youth go forward to make a commitment, a response team of 70 to 80 recruited from all sorts of churches talks to the young people in small groups of two to four.
“They share what they’ve decided and why and then basically they’re prayed with, and often the speaker comes out and prays with a group,” he explains. “Then they slot back into youth group.”