For our sixth session we had a speaker that was named Dr.Gustavo. He talked about brokenness and how it’s mended. My favorite lines that he said was “Brokenness can only be mended by the loving hands of God” and “God can fix any Brokenness.” I loved these lines because they were really moving. I wrote in my book these lines and I turned them into pictures so they were creative and fun. Dr.Gus really touched my heart with his words because it felt like God was reaching out to me and saying “Hey Angel, I can mend you. You don’t have to hide anymore.” I ended up opening up to my youth group about my problems I face later that day. I never realized how nice it is to no longer be lonely. I realized the reason I’m so lonely is because I kept pushing myself away from everyone else. I am much happier now that I’ve opened up and people know what I’ve been through.
Danielle Strickland was the pastor for our morning session the second day. She taught us a valuable lesson about how God views us through a lens of love. For he sees through these lenses therefore he loves each and every one of us since we are his creation. We tend to see the bad in people or their physical appearance. We tend to judge people by one mistake they’ve done. However God puts his whole entire heart into us.
On the second day, we spent a lot of time at the Rec Hall, most importantly in ‘The Experience’. This ‘Experience’ is essentially about as epic as a guided prayer walk/ group can get. There are three rooms you walk through and sit down with screens and objects you have to interact with. These activities were followed by a brief period of worship and song, which was really beautiful. For example, the first room we sat down, then went to these stations with trees and pulled out these popsicle sticks that had a word that was an issue we were struggling with that was keeping us from God (for example, envy conflict, etc). We prayed over these sticks and these issues and asked the Lord to help us and recognize that we couldn’t do it all alone. It was a calm and pleasant experience and I hope all the kids who are first timers got a good first experience out of it like I got.
This morning we started the last full day of NYC with our fifth session, Holiness. After being led into worship and group prayer for the church (last nights theme) we heard a sermon on what it means to have holiness, based around Psalm 51 and the story of David and Bathsheeba. Psalm 51 is David’s undoing, it is his submission to God of his sins. The speaker, Shawna Songer Gaines, explained that we often think of Holiness as the state of being perfect or of always being happy, but that it looks a whole lot more like Psalm 51. She continued to say that holiness is accepting the love of God where we are, recognizing our sin and imperfections, and allowing ourselves to be remade/repaired in God’s New Creation. It was so great to hear such an established and sometimes difficult concept such as holiness be explained in such simple and beautiful ways. Thanks once more for your prayers and support.
This week has been a lot of ups and downs. Last night we had a great Session, where we heard Stretch Dean talk about going “all in” for Jesus. While my heart hurt watching him toss oreo cookies on the floor for the poker illustration he used, I liked what he had to say. He told us his story and how he “didn’t do a lot but he did a little”, and how he thought that made him a good Christian. It wasn’t until one of his friends questioned whether he was a Christian after having spent 4 years with him on a basketball team. Stretch went on to say he started examining his life and started doing more. But all this was nothing because he didn’t have Christ in his life. He wasn’t “all in”. He then said he was a sponsor at a teen camp and after a restroom accident that involved a clogged toilet, pop, and a whole lot of bleach he found himself praying while holding a dirty plunger realizing that there were things he tried to “keep” from God. He turned them over and was never the same again. He was finally “all in” for Christ. It was a great service that brought to light what we might be hiding in the corner of our lives. I was convicted to examine my life and what I might be holding hidden in my heart, at things that might be keeping me from being “all in”. What might be keeping you from being “all in” for Christ?
A very powerful message from preacher of the night, Stretch, yes that is his name, reminded to go all in for God and surrender. A perfect metaphor used was as in the game of poker going all in with your poker chips (he used Oreos because what’s more precious that that?) as we should with God, delivering our whole selves and not just “doing the most but a lot” and thinking that’s enough but really immersing yourself in His word and commandments . After that we had a wonderful performance by Christian rapper Andi Mineo giving us the word of God through his talent. After a long day and a lot of fellowship we got to wrap up the day and reminisce of all the great things we did that day.
Hey parents! Last night was one of our first services of the trips. Our pre-show hosts played a dance game called “Dance Like a Nazarene.” Some of the dance moves included what it looks to check your phone in church and seeinh your youth pastor in public. It was, without a doubt, very entertaining to watch.
The worship we did was once again AMAZING. Royal Company always manages to get our energy up with some really fun songs. All our NYC wristbands were lighting up with the music. Seeing all of the lit-up wristbands throughout the arena was a truly incredible sight. Its always so amazing during worship because you so heavily feel the spirit of God with 8,000 other people.
Our speaker that night, Stretch, delivered a message that I feel is not talked about enough. He talked about poker, and had oreos stacked on a table that represented gambling chips. He talked about how he has always been very involved in his church since a young age, from kids quizzing to the teen summer camps. As he talked more and more about what he had become involved in, he threw more oreos down. This represented throwing your chips in and betting with them on your hand. He went through all of this and eventually talked about how instead of beinh precise with the “oreos” you are throwing in, you need to learn to go all in by surrendinh everything to God. Before he pushed all of the remaining oreos off of the table, he asked those who still had yet to surrender all to God to stand up if they wanted to take that step. Once he counted to three and swiped all of the oreos off, most everyone in the arena was standing. I think it was a very special moment for all of those who stood, with myself included.
I’m really grateful for the opportunity to come on this trip, and it hasn’t even been a full two days of NYC yet. I thank everyone who has been praying for us while we travel on this journey, both in the way we drove here and the spiritual journey we are all having.
-Anna Bea Heise
Hey everyone, it’s Ivan. Today for our service project, we volunteered at ‘Please Feed Our Children’, a non-profit Christian organization that packages and sends food to children who are starving/malnourished. Also, it was an inside project, thank the LORD. We all worked at stations and competed with other tables to pack as many bags as fast as possible, which was surprisingly fun. At first, I hadn’t really thought very much about what we were truly doing. I was just more focusing on having fun with the youth. It was until they told us how much we’d produced that I really got the point. At the end of our session, we’d packed enough food for 286 kids for an entire year. The fact that we saved almost 300 kids shook me a little. For some more numbers, our group (not just the youth, some of the other Texas districts) produced 484 boxes of food. In every box, theres 36 bags. Those bags have 6 meals in each of them. Thats thousands of meals (that is awesome). Praise the Lord!
Hey people back at home! Today we had our first NYC session. It started with DJ Opdoggie getting us pumped up and ready for the session. Then we had the preshow. We played a game called yeehaw. If you liked it you shouted yee and if you didn’t you shouted haw. After a few photos and the game worship started with a band called Royal Company. We had a speaker talk about worship and an amazing woman who preformed spoken word. The spoken word really touched my heart. It was a perfect first session and I’m excited for what comes next. We even have bands that light up to the music. I’m glad to have such an experience. I’m looking forward to the next event, MWO!!!
What’s popping party people. Currently sitting in a big ole room waiting to get our sandwiches. This morning we woke up bright and early, and headed to the first official service of NYC. We joined together with the other 8000 attendees from all over the US and Canada (even Hawaii) for worship. Worship just so happened to be our theme for the service, as we talked about what it meant to expand worship past just singing songs. To try and describe it would be folly, but just know it was an incredible display of God’s presence. God spoke through the speakers (a spoken word poet and her DJ husband) and the songs led by the worship band. For those who have been praying for us, thank you, it is greatly appreciated.