This past weekend at Fall Retreat we saw God show up in ways that I personally have never experienced. There, in that packed sanctuary full of students and adults, we experienced the presence and the power of God come down on us in such a powerful way that many students were cut to the heart with their sin. Their eyes were opened for the very first time, as they saw their need for Christ.
It started first with a high school girl, who rushed up to me during the last worship song, “Heather, I want God in my life,” she exclaimed! I shared with her that the bible calls us to repent of our sins and make a decision to follow Jesus, laying down our life to pick up His. Together, we prayed as she cried out to Jesus to rescue her from her sin.
After that more students started coming up, no one forced them, there was no “altar call” or pressure to receive, they came on their own, at random times throughout the night and the following day. There words were simple as they approached me some that night and some the following day, “Heather, I want Jesus.” Heather, “I want to give my life to Jesus.” Some prayed with other leaders who shared the gospel with them.
Others came up to me and said, “Heather, I gave my life to Jesus tonight.” I knew it was true as one young 7th grade boy, along with about three others, looked me square in the eyes and told me so. Another high school boy came up to me in tears, I said, “what is it?” He, barely able to get the words out, choking through tears said, “I WANT JESUS!” I said, “then you tell Him! Confess your sin to Him! Tell Jesus of your need for Him,” and that he did.
Many of our students live with deep brokenness, they come from painful situations in life, they have buried their hurts and disappointments, but we saw one girl find the freedom to share a deep hurt for the very first time with a couple of our adult leaders.
Students got up, shared testimonies of what God had done in their lives. They confessed their addictions, showing true and honest transparency before their fellow peers. The gospel was shared with boldness and conviction from our speaker, Steffan Nass. He spoke of the cost of following Jesus. He shared there’s no such thing as a half-hearted response to following after the Rabbi, Jesus.
I believe, because of the prayers of the people in our church, who committed to covering our entire event in prayer, the worship that led us to hear and receive the word of the Lord and the word of God being preached with truth and love, the Spirit of God came down on God’s people. We saw lives changed and transformed that night as many students eternities were changed.
After the weekend was over, 15 students said, for the very first time, I want to follow Jesus. I want to take up His life and lay down my sin. I’m still a bit in shock over all of it. Yet, I am not surprised, because God wants to work in ways like this among us, we just have to be willing to get out of the way and let Him in.
Now, the handwork begins. The evidence of their confession will come out over the next few weeks and months as we seek to disciple these students and provide opportunities for them to grow in their faith. Pray their decisions were genuine and they truly understood their need for Christ. Pray they would get connected to a body of believers who can help them grow in their faith. Ask God to show them His love. Pray they would surround themselves with people who want to follow Jesus too.
As I reflect on this weekend, I can’t help but think about our theme, Radical Obedience, and something Pastor Luke said around the campfire to the students on Sunday afternoon. Quite simply, true Radical Obedience is living for Jesus in the mundane. It’s getting into God’s word daily, seeking Him in prayer, pursuing His heart and engaging with Him through confession of sin. It’s making time to read His word, allowing it to change and transform our hearts. It’s being in fellowship with other believers, actively involved, weekly, with a local body of believers in a church. That is Radical Obedience and as we seek those things overtime, God starts to change our hearts as we grow to be more like Him.
The danger is to live for the mountain top experiences, somehow trying to sustain our faith living only in those moments. Our faith cannot grow in this type environment. We must come down off of the mountain and choose to Radically Obedient with God everyday.
Students, please know that you are DEEPLY LOVED. We are here at Collide Youth Group to walk with you as you pursue Jesus. It is a hard journey, but God will walk with you, and we will be here by your side to help you as you follow Him. The handwork of Radical Obedience for you begins now. Are you willing to live out your confession of faith that you made this weekend? Will you put aside distractions to get alone with God, reading His word and seeking Him in prayer? I will pray that you will! I know many others will be praying the very same.