LONDON - first posted 2 August 2000 - 475 words
This August Bank Holiday, young people from across the country are poised to meet thousands of party revellers for one of the biggest 'ecstasy seeking meetings' in recent years.
Travelling on free coaches to Walsingham in Norfolk, 3,000 young people are expected to gather for what organisers describe as "four days of mind-blowing activities which are aimed to take you to the skies."
But before you inform the police, call the fire brigade and generally ask for a warning to be broadcast across the airwaves, we should point out that this 'ecstasy seeking' event does NOT involve the taking of illegal substances of any kind.
At a time when drugs-related crime is rocketing and many parents are increasingly concerned about the number of young people taking hard drugs, this event is being offered as a spiritual alternative to the drugs culture.
Organised by Youth 2000 - an initiative set up in 1989 in response to Pope John Paul II's call for young people to be witnesses of God's love in the world - from 24-28 August a team will be leading reflection, prayer, worship and evangelisation.
It may sound like the last thing young people would want to be doing, but national leader of Youth 2000, Robert Toone, says: "Young people are searching for happiness in a wide variety of places. The recent deaths caused by the drug ecstasy are a tragic reminder of the consequences of looking for love and life in destructive environments. What our event is saying to young people is that true 'ecstasy' is only to be found through receiving and accepting God in your life."
Twenty-six-year-old Andy Kylie is an ex-drug user and one of the young people who has benefited from attending Youth 2000 events. He says: "In 1992 I was 18 years old and living on the streets. I was existing in a world of drugs, drink and violence. One day a young woman came to talk to me while I was begging at Kings Cross station in London. She invited me to a Youth 2000 event. Having heard what she said, I felt drawn more and more to go and three weeks later I found myself at the Youth 2000 summer festival in Kent. My life changed completely. God used the structure, the people, the prayer to help me find true love and life again."
Andy is now a member of the Prince of Peace Community, which is a Catholic charismatic community in Ormskirk near Liverpool. He is married to Nicky who is also an ex-drug user and was helped by attending Youth 2000 events. They both now work in Christian art and music ministries.
If you would like more information about the festival call Youth 2000 on 01937 579700 or check their website: www.youth2000.org.