An incredible week of ministry
I just returned this past Saturday June 23 from a week of World Changers in Norfolk, VA, with my youth group. For those of you unfamiliar with World Changers, it is an opportunity provided via the North American Mission Board (NAMB) of the SBC that allows jr. high, high school, and college students to put action to their faith in many inner city and rural communities. The students who participate are divided into work crews and these crews go to the neediest homes in the community where they do everything from roofing to painting to cleaning to putting in new cabinets to building decks and handicap ramps. I have been going on these trips since 1993 and have taken my current youth group since 2001, but nothing was ever like this past week.
You see, when you participate in a World Changers trip you usually look to see how God is going to move in the life either of the homeowner you are helping or those in the community that you get to share with. Sure, your life gets impacted, but it's usually how you reach out to others that gets the most notice. That all changed this year.
We took a group of 54 students and adults and at the end of each day we had a time to pull together to have youth group devotions. It is during this time that we like to share what we have done during the week, swap prayer requests, and be challenged for the next day. Plus, it's really the only time that the entire group gathers together each day. On the second day that we were in Norfolk one of our students who just graduated from high school gave her life to Christ. She shared that in our Sunday night devotion time and that seemed to open up the gates of what the Spirit of God wanted to do next. After she shared I took some time to share the gospel message as clearly as I could and when I did, 2 other students gave their lives to Christ and another recommitted his life to the lordship of Jesus. It was incredible!
As the week progressed I could sense a spiritual awareness in the lives of our students and adults. We were also growing very close as a youth group - no one was left out of anything. During our youth group devotions on Thursday night I talked about family and how even though many in the room came from broken homes or unhealthy relationships in the past, this group that was gathered together was truly a family and we all needed to rely on each other. I don't really believe it had anything to do with what I said but it was during all of this that another student ran out of the room very emotional and when one of our adults went to talk with her she confessed that she needed to give her life to Christ and that is just what she did. We also learned that same night that the night before 7 students from another youth group that was with us in Norfolk had also given their lives to Christ. What a great spiritual awakening we were experiencing!
By the end of the week we were all exhausted and ready to see our families, yet we were still caught up in all that God was doing. And of course, He didn't stop working. On Sunday afternoon after we returned one of my college students who had gone with us pulled me aside and shared his story with me. He had been "playing the game" for a long time and had never surrendered his life to Christ. During the week God began to lean on him heavily but he wouldn't let Him in. Then we he got home Saturday night God wouldn't let him sleep until he got things right. So at about 3 in the morning this student hit his knees and surrendered his life to Christ for the very first time.
In all of my years of being involved in youth ministry I have never experienced a movement of God quite like this. There were many other students during the week that faced spiritual battles head on and with God's strength came out on top. Doubts were dissolved, bad habits were broken, spiritual resolve was strengthened, passion was flamed. We did nothing to plan for it other than pray and there was no special emphasis or programs in place to facilitate what happened. God moved and people responded.
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