First of all, wow; just wow. As a youth leader this was truly a powerful experience, both for myself personally as well as seeing God stir up things in the youth. I would also like to add that I have a very pessimistic view of conference, camp, and other events that take a believer out of the real world and give them this mountain top experience that, while probably good, doesn’t help them in real life. As a rule of thumb I think that the American church spends entirely too much money on such things and places a false hope in them. But this conference was different and, while I still adopt the way of thinking that I previously mentioned, I make an exception for Challenge, as well as a few others. The theme of the week was bold moves, kneel, stand, and walk. Each one important for the one after it to become a reality, but before kneel came a foundation that everything else was built on, that being God’s unconditional love for us.
We started the week by talking about God’s unconditional love for us. We heard stories of how bride and groom were getting married and how they were going to have to give up many things in order to marry their beloved. God works the same way. He sees us in our mess, and knows better than we do about how much of a mess it actually is, and he chooses to love us anyway. WOW! Christ gave up heaven to claim us and call us his own. He gave up perfect, unbroken fellowship with the Father to save a wretch like me. WOW!
Following this we learned about kneeling before the Father. To kneel is to place yourself in a position where the one to whom you are kneeling to can do whatever he wants to you and you would be defenseless. In a similar way, when we kneel before God we are saying, “God do what you want with me.” There are no qualifications, no provisos. God, you can do whatever you want with me. That’s it. It is up to him to decide where I should go, what I should do, what I should think, what I should believe. To kneel is to surrender, and God will take none of us or all of us, there is no middle ground.
Stand came next. Standing was about knowing the truth of God and staying there amidst the chaos of life. In order to stand on truth you have to know what truth is. To know what truth is you have to open up the book of truth and read about who the Truth is. We also learned about how truth is being reshaped in the fields of technology, science, and sexuality. As Christians, we must keep coming back to our source of truth and asking God what is true and anchoring ourselves in his response.
Finally, there was walk. Walk was all about asking the question, “Now what?” It asked the question, “How do I know God’s will for my life and how do I act upon that?” During this time students made specific plans on how they were going to take what they had learned at Challenge and apply it to their lives back at home. They also learned how to find out what God’s will for their life was and how to live it out. Out of all the conference, this was one that I most wished I had learned at a young age and I am so grateful that our youth were presented with the truth of it.
We also did a service project, which was very eye opening to the poverty and needs of those in the inner city. I don’t want to downplay this, even though I don’t have a much to say about it, because in many ways this was one of best bonding moments.
Another thing we did was attend equipping labs. Labs had a variety of topics that were being discussed. I had the privilege of accompanying some youth to one on how to share your faith. The speaker was excellent and I believe that the youth took many things away from that lab. I also took away much useful knowledge that I hope to apply in my life.
Lastly, and most importantly, we participated in a huddle time. A huddle time was a time of debriefing after listening to a speaker. During this time I got to see students really work out what they believed and how they were living out their beliefs. I got to see youth challenged in how they maybe weren’t believing things they said they were believing. I got to see sweet mercy being given and received among the youth as they bore with each others quirks and irritations (In many ways I think they did this better than adults). I got to see them bond and become a family. And I also got to see students rise to the challenge of living for Christ in a broken world that hates them for their faith in Christ.
In conclusion, I was extremely blessed personally by going on this trip and learned a lot myself. I also got to see the youth take up the call to live out their Christian life in the real world. And I got to see shattered, broken individuals come together as the family of God and truly love each other. Thank you to all who were supporting us, both financially and in prayer. God was glorified. Solo Deo gloria