YWEA is the annual youth mission project of the Church of God. The evening festivities soon turned to honor outgoing international director, Tom Madden.
International Youth and Discipleship staff and state/regional directors of Youth and Discipleship, their spouses, and several special guests recently gathered to celebrate the collective accomplishments of YWEA 2012 and also to honor the outgoing international director, Tom A. Madden. Honor was also given to several state/regional directors of Youth and Discipleship whose ministries were being redirected.
The gathering took place at the Hilton hotel Thursday, July 26, 2012, during the Church of God International General Assembly in Orlando, Florida.
YWEA is the annual youth mission project or the Church of God. YWEA 2012 focused on providing funds to build a ministry and retreat center for all of Africa in Lusaka, Zambia, as well as providing ministry and care to orphans around the world. In what is a very difficult and challenging financial climate, children, youth and local congregations from around the United States and the world have raised just over $900,000 for these great ministry causes this year.
Awards were announced and presented by the YWEA coordinator, Randall Parris, to state directors of Youth and Discipleship who (1) reached their YWEA “achievement level” goal, (2) broke their all-time state/regional YWEA giving record, and (3) raised $100,000 or more for YWEA this year. States/regions breaking their all-time record included Missouri, New York, North Central Spanish, South Carolina, South Georgia and Southern New England. South Carolina, South Georgia, and Texas all raised more than $100,000 this year.
The evening festivities soon turned to honor outgoing international director, Tom Madden. Bishop Madden (a South Carolina native) and his wife, Charla, have given their lives together to the Lord and church in youth ministry. They served as outstanding youth pastors in their early ministry years and then began their journey in the Youth and Discipleship (formerly Youth and Christian Education) family.
Tom and Charla served as the state director in Chicago/Metro (1986-1988), and Indiana (1988-1990). The Madden’s then joined the International Department as youth ministries coordinator (1990-2004). Brother Madden’s heart for students and his excellence as a leader compelled the General Assembly to elect him to serve as assistant international director (2004-2008) and international director (2008-2012) of Youth and Discipleship. Madden has served 26 consecutive years in the ministry of Youth and Discipleship.
Thirty years ago, several youth pastors joined together for their youth groups to have a spiritual retreat in Gatlinburg, TN. They called this gathering Winterfest. This retreat continued to grow and was prophetically embraced by church leaders W. A. Davis and Dr. Lamar Vest. Winterfest has come a long way since 1983 when 279 students and those five youth pastors gathered for worship and renewal. The current international director of Youth and Discipleship, Tom Madden, was a young youth pastor who helped launch that first-ever “Winterfest” event and then grew and guided it as a loving father.
Under Madden’s care, in the year 2000, Winterfest made the courageous decision to move to Thompson Boling arena in Knoxville…and the rest is history. Now Winterfest reaches around the country and around the world to four continents, (Europe, Africa, Asia, & North America) giving hope, peace, and passion for Christ to 40,000-50,000 students annually!
However, Madden is quick to remind: Numbers do not tell the story. We will never know all the details or stories of the thousands who have been saved, filled with the Spirit, and called into ministry. Thousands have walked out the doors of a Winterfest who had an encounter with Christ that changed their lives forever!
Bishop Madden’s fingerprints are found everywhere on Winterfest. Interestingly, several people at the General Assembly opening worship service Wednesday said, things like, “Wow! This feels like Winterfest for adults!” That is because people who grew up around Winterfest know that Winterfest is synonymous with heartfelt worship, anointed preaching and ministry, and unforgettable visitations of the Holy Spirit! That is what the opening General Assembly worship service was as well.
During the evening celebration Wednesday night, slides showing ministry highlights from Tom and Charla’s years of service were displayed on the screens and gifts and expressions of appreciation were given. One of the evening’s highlights was the “open microphone” component where personal and moving statements of appreciation, stories of ministry moments, and hilarious memories were shared by friends and colleagues of the Madden’s.
During the “open microphone” moments, one of the veteran state directors of Youth and Discipleship quoted a statement that was perfectly apropos in describing Tom Madden. “Politicians work for the next election. Statesmen work for the next generation!” This is the legacy that Tom and Charla have left with Youth and Discipleship and the Church of God.
The next day, at the close of the General Assembly, it waqs revealed that the Madden’s had been appointed to the Delmarva-D.C. region as state overseer.