It wasn’t long ago I stood where they stood. Armed with sleeping bags and backpacks full of outfits for the weekend to come, excitement filling their hearts to the brim, and an unknowingness of what was ahead of them.
We arrived shortly after worship began due to traffic. The boys were trailing behind us due to phone issues and traffic. As the night unfolded they heard the gospel and of young students who stood out in their faith despite the persecution they’d receive. I prayed that each one of you would take away just a fraction of that confidence to do the same in your life.
The next morning we’d travel the 1.5 hour drive again, this time I asked them to spend time reading God’s word to prepare yourself for the day. One of them suggested Matthew 13- The Parable of the Sower. I prayed that in the weeks to come you’d share the seed of God’s word in your schools, and that some would fall on good soil.
More worship would greet us that morning. I let you all rush down to the mosh pit, much like I did when I was your age.
We’d listen to David Nasser as he taught us how to Show Up,Shut Up, Grow Up, and Speak Up in our communities. Then we prayed for the nations. I would pray again you’d take these words to heart and begin to make changes to stand out in your own schools. I’d also shed a single tear as I recalled listening to David as a young teen. I also watched you each struggle with praying aloud amongst your friends and prayed for confidence to grow inside you as you journeyed through your faith.
After lunch we’d gather around to dive into God’s word some before our final session. I’d have the students lead the discussion in the midst of the chaos and noise around. Because in the world, that’s what you’d face- chaos and noise trying to keep God’s word from being heard. They’d then race through the doors and excitedly claim the front row. I’d pray you’d let God have the front row of your hearts.
The final worship session came and I watched them be big brothers and help their youngest see over the crowd of people. They would learn what raising their arms would mean. They’d also crush on this guy:
Then later on the drive home, they’d learn he’s happily engaged and all the fathers said
” praise Jesus” because 1/2 the girls wanted to marry him.
Finally Leonce Crump would take the stage and help the students understand the reason why we stand out and how the gospel is about creating a family of God that knows no diversity. I prayed a prayer of thankfulness that you all were so accepting of diversity and prayed you’d continue to invite all to our group.
After a long day, we’d gather at the church where a taco bar was so graciously set up. We’d sit and crack jokes and laugh, then got down to business. I asked two questions: 1) What was something God placed on your heart that you need to change to stand out more for Him, and 2) What were something’s we as group could do to stand out more in our community? As they listened to each other, they saw a common theme: they each needed to engage in God’s word more. So they decided to do it together. They picked a book of the bible and committed to read a chapter a week and discuss it at our gatherings. I prayed a prayer of praise as you all displayed an act of maturity. I also prayed for movement in your hearts as you unpacked His word together.
As a young family ministry director, I’m proud of my students. Proud that they’d give up their time to share the weekend together and grow in their understanding of God’s word. Proud that they’d support one another on their journey. Proud that they’d want to stand out in their faith. I’m thankful they were able to attend the Student Life Conference this year and look forward to attending in the years to come.