This post is dedicated to those who in one way or another shared these moments with me.
10. Presence of older generations
There was a significant presence of older generation at this GYC, especially leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist church. I felt like I was seeing a bit more of Malachi 4:6 – “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers…”
9. Presence of old friends
While reunions at GYC are old stories, I was very pleasantly surprised to bump into people I knew from 5, 6, 7 years ago. I thought I’d never see them again.
8. ANEW booth
I thought it was amazing that people actually stopped by our simple booth and we actually met important contacts, including someone who works at UPenn, incoming students to Penn State, current students in Virginia, etc. Considering that we didn’t even have anything that says “Campus Ministry” on our banner, I think those were definitely divine appointments.
7. Strategic Plan
Amy’s 2nd seminar was titled “Strategic Plan: Is God Calling You?”, talking about how we can discern God’s calling concerning our life work and the questions that we can ask ourselves to evaluate the distinct gifts that God has granted. Elder Skeete went over some of these principles during CAMPUS MTP about three years ago, and it was very enlightening. As I’m coming into the mid-life of my PhD program, I’ve started an on-going conversation with God about the next step, what would I do, where would I be, and who would I be. I realize that I need to go over those questions again, which will assuredly provide more clarity. This will be an exciting process.
6. Being prayed for
I got the opportunity to speak to Mrs. Kathy Irizarry to listen to her thoughts on some potential future plans. The content of the conversation is not something that I had not gone over in my head before, but it was nice to talk it over with someone who’s older. At the end, she reached over to lay her hands on mine and asked to pray for me. I wasn’t struggling, I wasn’t in any turmoil, and I wasn’t being convicted of any particular thing, but as soon as she started praying I began to cry. And I couldn’t stop.
I was so touched by her gesture, even though it was a very simple one. It’s been a while since an older woman offered to pray for me, and I really appreciated this little encounter.
5. Something Is Happening – ANEW
As Amy interviewed David, Hillary, and Eunice during the Something Is Happening session, my heart was stirred once more by the importance of campus ministry. When David said that we were just a bunch of broke college students trying to make a difference on campus, I was struck by the magnitude of our ministry – it’s so small, yet big, but small, but big, all at the same time. Here we are, just a bunch of nobodies who oftentimes don’t know what we’re doing, yet something is truly happening. We’re like as close to the dirt as a grassroots movement can be. In terms of numbers, our campus ministry groups mostly consist of 20 students or less at each school. ANEW’s conference attendees are an order of magnitude less than GYC’s. Yet none of these really mattered. Each committed student at a secular campus is a miracle in itself, and God is awakening more and more each day.
But there’s another reason why I was stirred by this moment. In the context of the youth movement in the Seventh-day Adventist church, ANEW and campus ministry in general have a niche that is very specific and of great importance, simply because we have no back ups. There is no back up to ANEW, or CAMPUS, or STRIDE’s ministry. If not us, the students on campus, who else is going to do campus ministry? The forty- or fifty-somethings may dream, plan, and talk about campus ministry, but it is the late teenagers and the twenty-somethings who can in actuality execute the plan to completion. Our feet are on the mission field, literally, and campus ministry simply must be done.
4. End of David Asscherick’s message
Pastor Asscherick’s conclusion completed my “No Turning Back” experience. While I can say “No Turning Back” in a courageous way, like a soldier who’s committed to the general until death, I know too well that this commitment can wane and fail. Saying the same phrase to a father, however, is a different story. Why would you turn away from your father? It’s unthinkable, just as it is unthinkable to turn back from our earthly father.
When I walk hand in hand with my Father, why, of course I would never turn back. Of course it doesn’t matter if anyone wouldn’t join me or if I had to leave the world behind. My Father loves me and I love Him, and that’s it. It’s the love of God that constrains me to serve Him as a Master. So I said, I have decided to follow You, Father, and I don’t ever want to turn back.
3. Micah Christian Ramos
Micah is one funny boy. Natasha and I were babysitting the Ramos babies while their parents had lunch with some of the GYC leaders and GC officials. At some point, Micah decided to pull his dress-pants down and totally just ran out into the living room with his underwear showing where they had the meeting. Yes, into the gathering of the leaders of the Generation of Youth for Christ movement, the President of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and other church leaders, all with a grin on his face, cracking himself up as I ran after him and brought him back to the play room, myself cracking up. Definitely one of the most memorable moments of GYC.
2. Seeing Thando preach
Watching Thando preach with power morning by morning was literally beholding a miracle. When I met Thando for the first time in Boston, she was the quietest, most soft spoken girl I had even known. She was so shy and I couldn’t hear her most of the time. But God has given her a voice to preach the Gospel to the entire world. The fact that she was standing there bears witness that God can liberate us from ourselves.
1. ANEW New Year’s Eve Gathering
Students from the ANEW network gathered together for a worship service during New Year’s Eve to spend time in fellowship, singing, and testimonies. I don’t know if I can accurately describe what happened in words. It was simply powerful. People kept coming, whether they were students in the network or other GYC attendees. No one really knew about this event except the ones in the ANEW network, but the room was almost filled. What made it powerful, though, were the testimonies from the students. We had asked a few to share, but then we opened the floor for anyone to share their stories. And the testimonies kept coming, both from students we know and those we just met. All of us were surprised at how many testimonies there were. The word that ringed in my head during the whole thing was “awakening”. It was like seeing student after student waking up to realize God’s purpose of placing them on campus. For some it took one ANEW conference, for other it took years. It felt refreshing, organic, and real.
We have a vision of actualizing “A great awakening of secular campuses that stand ready for the return of Christ”, and I think on December 31, 2010, 9:00 – 10:30 PM, in Room 325 of the Baltimore Convention Center, we witnessed some evidence of the start of this awakening.