DESPITE the absence of its leader, Epeli Ratabacaca, the All Nations Christian Fellowship believes God is with them for this year's annual youth conference with the theme "The truth for freedom".
Ratabacaca is serving a prison term of two years for one count of sexual assault.
Earlier this week, Fiji Corrections Service Commissioner Colonel Ifereimi Vasu confirmed the ANCF head wouldn't be released for the annual gathering. Ratabacaca will be eligible for parole after serving 15 months of his term.
Church general secretary Reverend Josefa Tuitoga said despite the absence of their leader, the large gathering of more than 1000 youths from Fiji and abroad marked a milestone achievement.
Thousands of church members, among them youths from England, Australia, Japan, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and the US, flocked to the ANZ Stadium in Suva on Friday night for the opening of the conference.
"Even though Reverend Ratabacaca wasn't able to be here with us, we believe God is the head of our church," Mr Tuitoga said. "In his absence, Lautoka congregation head Reverend Emosi Nauloto has been acting on his behalf."
He said the four-day conference was aimed at getting together church youths to not only get to know one another but work on the theme which was based from the Bible verse John 8:32: "Only the truth will set you free."
Mr Tuitoga said this was the first time youths from abroad were part of the annual conference.
The conference ends tommorrow.