"Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV
I am literally shaking as I type this very special post, pondering and reflecting on the wonderful experience I had 2 weeks ago in Atlanta, Georgia. I am expecting a lot of traffic on this particular post so I will share a little about myself and how the Lord allowed me to get to the 2019 Young Leaders Conference, hosted by Elder Mark Moore Jr.!
If you are new to this page, let me first say welcome and thank you for taking the time to read this blog. My name is Joshua De Sousa, a 22 year old author and preacher from Orange, New Jersey. Growing up and being involved in ministry from a young age was both exciting and difficult, and there were many times I thought I was the only one like myself in my area and region. Every ministry and preaching conference I went to, I was always the youngest there. It felt great to be seen as an equal to those who are more experienced and aged, but I truly desired a space for christian leaders in my age group at the time. Social media definitely made the world much smaller, as I found and followed hundreds of leaders and ministry gifts in their teens and twenties since 2013. I was watching from afar, seeing pictures and clips from the first Young Leaders Conference, always wishing I could go each year, mainly due to my season of financial hardship. I made up my mind back in 2018 that no matter what I was going through, I have to find a way to get to YLC 2019.
This story starts on Christmas Day, 2018, when the YLC page posted a registration discount. I shared it on Facebook (while secretly praying) and said, "Lord I would love if someone would give this to me as a Christmas present!" Literally within five minutes, a friend of mine all the way from Jamaica paid for my registration immediately! I was literally blown away, and said to the Lord, "If you did this, then I know You will take care of the rest." During March of 2019, another friend of mine both paid for my round trip flight for the conference after I told him I was going to take a bus from Newark to Atlanta, and they covered my hotel expenses as well!
To top that off, Elder Moore and the YLC page blessed me with $50 in May after an Instagram contest, which started my savings towards the conference! I walked into some crazy provision leading to the conference, all while unfortunately not having a job, mainly due to creating my first e-book which has officially sold 100 copies this summer! In addition to that, I went to a Christian publishing conference and had double what I needed for all the expenses! All of these moments were signs that God literally wanted me to be there and that nothing would cause me to miss this moment! When the favor of God is on your life, it does not matter what you have, but rather WHO you have! There may be no money in your pocket right now, but that shall not stop the manifestation of your miracle! He was showing me that He is more than able to launch me in the midst of my lack!
Now to talk about the actual conference. The majority of the conferences I have been to were between 50-200 people so this was a huge jump for me. Even though I am an introvert and am the person to be like, "Hey, bye, add me on social media later," it truly did good to my heart to see over 5000 men and women both of color; millennials and even some people from Generations X and Y various ethnic backgrounds, countries, and christian denominations, fellowship and worship together in an atmosphere filled with prayer, love, and excellence. In my area, I am so used to seeing many represent or brag on their denomination or doctrine more than the actual Gospel of Jesus Christ, having a superiority complex and even going as far as to keep their peers and young people away from other believers and events that was different from what they are used to. The Church will never be able to occupy and overtake until they come together, and YLC is a beautiful example of what we can do when walk in harmony and synergy.
This is the only conference I have seen where we have 6AM prayer with full blown weeping, healing, and deliverance, and having presidential candidates in the same room later that afternoon. We are able to talk about theology in one workshop, while talking about business and entrepreneurship next door. God would move mightily in every single room, no matter the topic. Most conferences are either all encounter and no education, or all education and no encounter. YLC has found a formula of what I call "balance and breakthrough", being able to take on a holistic approach to the body of Christ by having services and classes that minister to different aspects of the believer, including their ministry, finances, emotional and mental health, political views, and creativity; this all done without hiding or diluting the presence of the Holy Spirit! If you need both revival and resources, spirituality and strategy, then this is the perfect place for you next summer!
YLC is also a conference that pours back into their attendees, like I said earlier when they blessed me with $50 back in May! They gave out many sponsorships, several discounts throughout the course of the year, and you will not believe what I tell you next. On the second night of the conference, Elder Mark Moore announced that parts of our registration expenses and offerings both during and before the conference went towards paying off over $1.5 million dollars of medical debt in the city of Atlanta! While our souls and minds were being fed, our attendance and love gifts literally changed the lives of hundreds of families I may never meet! This conference is literally a magnet for miracles and cannot be ignored, which was evident when the government officials of Atlanta and College Park gave Elder Mark a proclamation declaring August, 16, 2019 "Young Leaders Day"!
You can read about the dent the conference made into Atlanta's medical debt here: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/young-leaders-conference-ylc-pays-off-1-5-million-dollars-in-medical-debt-for-over-1--200-underserved-families-in-atlanta-area-300905213.html
There is so much more I can say about why the Young Leaders Conference has the Lord's hand all over it, but it can never be put into words. You really have to be there for yourself to experience it. My last remark will be a passage in 1 Kings chapter 19:18. Elijah spent many years feeling like he was the only one that was standing up for God in his generation. He cried out about feeling alone and exhausted, but the the Lord told him, "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” Next time someone tells you there are no millennials in church anymore, that the church is unaware and irrelevant, show them the Young Leaders Conference, a prophetic preview of the radical and relevant remnant God has set apart for a time like this! You can register for the 2020 Young Leaders Conference at exploreylc.com, as well as follow them and the conference host on their Instagram pages @mmoorejr and @exploreylc!
Continue to pray for me as I embark on my journey to writing faith and fiction books and as I started saving for YLC 2020 so I can registering by my birthday in November, and I want to help a few friends get there too! If you feel led to help me and others get there next year, you can purchase a copy of my new e-book, Employed to Empower. This project is meant to be full of encouragement. prayer, impartation, and devotion for those who desire to write books, blogs, sermons, poems, and so much more! Send me your email address along with your gift and the book will be emailed to you within a few hours or no more than two days tops! We just officially sold 100 copies and I am trusting the Lord to sell another 100 by the beginning of October! Purchase info is below! Your support is greatly appreciated.
Hope to see you next year at YLC 2020! -Joshua A. De Sousa | @DeSousaDeclares
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