The GYC (Generation of Youth for Christ) conference in Louisville, KY, was amazing! Below are some of my memories:
On Wednesday morning, we said goodbye to our “home” of two days (Monday and Tuesday) at the Country Inn & Suites, where we stayed while perusing the Creation Museum. They truly did make us feel at home!
And we were off in the fog on our way to Louisville for GYC!
The Galt House–25 stories–was our “home” for the next four days. Can’t say I liked it as much as the Country Inn & Suites, but it was still very nice.
Here’s the view from our room on the 8th floor. Check out the long barge in the Ohio River!
After getting settled, we headed over to the International Convention Center (a 15 minute walk by way of skyways) to register! Thankfully we went when we did, because there was relatively no one there when we registered, and soon after this long line appeared!
One thing we did differently this year (we’ve attended GYC in 2007 and 2010) that I really liked is to volunteer. With the packed schedule and the thousands of people milling about, volunteering gave us an opportunity to meet people and get to know them better in a smaller-scale setting. It was also nice to be a part of the behind-the-scenes activity that made GYC possible. We helped with literature sorting on Thursday night before the outreach on Friday, we helped with meal flagging (directing attendees to the food lines and their seats at the meals) a couple days, and also helped a little with small groups (that was mainly Mom’s forte, but the rest of us helped a little as well). Here is a picture of the huge dining room. It had to be huge to accommodate the 3,000+ attendees!
After registration and helping set up for the first small group session, it was time for the first meeting! It was so exciting to think that we were really there and that GYC was underway! A bit surreal!
On Thursday the breakaway sessions began! There were so many different ones to choose from, and they all sounded so good that it was very hard to choose just one. I ended up going to two different breakaways. The first one was all about outreach to the Muslims. I got to attend the first or second session with this dear friend! One of the best parts about GYC was seeing old friends and making new ones!
What an interesting breakaway this was! I really wish I could have attended every single session, but unfortunately, I couldn’t be at two different breakaways at the same time. It was all about the culture and ways of thinking of the Muslim community and how to reach out to them with the gospel message, as well as story after story of living as a Christian witness in a Muslim country, about Muslim converts, and much more. It was truly riveting!
There were a few statements made in these sessions that really spoke to me. One was: “Your job is what you’re paid for; your calling is what you’re made for.” Also this one: “There is no place that is safe, except where God sends you.”
The speaker also told the story of the Good Samaritan in a way I had never heard it before (I didn’t even know it was possible to tell this story from an angle that hasn’t yet been heard). The speaker asked the thought-provoking question: Could it be that in this story, the Good Samaritan represents Jesus, and the Innkeeper represents us as Christians? As innkeepers, our daily lives are filled with responsibilities of caring for the affairs of our business, being faithful in the little things, and so on. And just when we are busiest, the Good Samaritan arrives. He doesn’t just want a room and a meal, but wants to place someone He has rescued in our care. He lays down two coins and says, “I have given you enough to care of him. Whatever else it costs you, I will repay you.” What a thought!
The other breakaway I attended was all about falling in love with Jesus. Interestingly, the speaker (my good friend Natasha) put so many of my own heartcries into words. I was able to identify so much with everything she said, and she gave me so much hope and encouragement for what could be possible in my relationships with Jesus. For example, she said, “Love for God cannot be forced. It is a heart response. When the right conditions are in place, love spring naturally.” Rev. 3:14-22 gives those conditions: Gold, white raiment, and eye salve. The gold is “genuine faith, or taking God at His word. This will set us free to love God. All the promises in the Word of God are ours.” “Faith is the soil in which love grows; white raiment is the atmosphere.” The white raiment is a deep understanding of the plan of salvation, when we realize that we can do NOTHING but accept what has been offered us through Jesus. We cannot even muster up penitence or a soft heart, but must rely totally upon Christ. “Even the slightest desire towards God is proof of His working in our hearts, because not even that can come from ourselves.” The eye salve is having a right view of God’s character and heart of love, a right view of ourselves and our worth in Him, and an opening of our eyes to the plight of humanity, in a way that will spur us into sharing Jesus’ love and the message of salvation with others. So many things that Natasha shared were things that the Lord had already been impressing on my heart of late, but I had never had them all expressed so well in one set of messages! It was so convicting, encouraging, and inspiring.
Here we are doing what we did a good percentage of the time (at least it felt like it): Waiting for the elevator!
Friday was outreach day! After breakfast, the morning devotional, and one breakaway session, we all headed onto buses which would distribute us around the city of Louisville, where we would be knocking on doors, surveying the community about their mental, physical, and spiritual health needs, and praying with people. Mom, Theodore, Rachel and I ended up on the very first bus to head on outreach. I might look all excited and happy in this picture, but I was actually very nervous!
I’ll be honest, going door-to-door is outside of my comfort zone! I like what one speakers at the evening meeting said: “There is no growth in the comfort zone. As we go, we grow. Lord make us uncomfortable in this world, and unmovable in this walk.” And we ended up having a really good experience! Rachel and I went together as a team, and Mom and Theodore went together as another team. I can’t say that we had inspiring responses at every door, but we had one pretty amazing experience that sticks with me:
Rachel and I went to this one house where a very nice older gentleman listened politely to our survey, but kept saying over and over again how there was just no way he could stop smoking, and certainly couldn’t give up drinking, seeing how much pain he was in with his back injuries. When we got to the spiritual health section and asked him if he wanted Bible studies, he had an excuse for that one too: “Honey [we got honeyed and sweetied and darlinged all over that town], I just don’t know if I have the time, with my dad just getting out of the hospital and coming to stay with me.” So, I asked, “Do you feel like you have a personal relationship with Jesus?” (this is a very powerful little question by the way). Oh, yes, was his heartfelt assurance. “Do you read your Bible every day?” I then asked. He said that he read it fairly often, but that there was a lot of things he didn’t understand in it. “Oh, then you would just love these Bible studies! They don’t have you reading some other book, but take you directly back to the Bible and help you get to know it for yourself!” And he ended up signing up for Bible studies! Then I asked if we could pray with him. At first he declined, but from around the corner his sister, who had been bustling about with little tasks and didn’t even appear to be listening, called (commanded, I should say), “Come on now, S______, you let them pray with you! You know you need it!” And she came bustling right over and had us all take hands and pray with the man! It was such a neat experience! I came away from that house feeling like God had orchestrated it so we had been in the right place at the right time and had given us the right words to say. It truly was a divine appointment.
I like what another speaker said at GYC: “Success does not rest in our strength, but in 100% dependence on Christ.” I went out that day feeling very unprepared and inadequate, but relying on Jesus to supply what I lacked. And He did, and it was so amazing to be a part of that supernatural working.
Here’s a little sign outside one of the houses we knocked at. It gave me a laugh! 🙂
The rest of the week passed by like a blur! On Sabbath I finally got a chance to get a picture and a moment to chat with this girl! A best friend and adopted sister of many years whom I hadn’t seen in person for about four years!
The hardest part about GYC was saying goodbye on the last day. I can’t wait for heaven where there will be no more goodbyes!
Here we are heading for home! It was hard to believe that GYC was over! I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything! Here’s a couple more quotes from different meetings that really impacted me: “The Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. The question is, why are you so easily satisfied with things that are so cheap?” … and “God is longing to have us expect great things from Him. Stop asking God to do things that man can do!”
Home sweet home! It was an adjustment to come back to snow after seeing green grass down in KY!
And so ends our Kentucky adventures. It’s easy to feel let down because the amazing mountaintop experience is over. But I am also comforted by remembering that the same Lord who was with us at GYC is here with us at home, and He can grow and encourage us and give us amazing experiences here in the mundane tasks of life just as well as at GYC. Another quote from one of the meetings: “It is not the martyr who is closest to God’s heart, but the unknown Christian who is faithful in the unseen duties at home who is most precious.”
Looking forward to GYC 2016 in Houston, TX!