Much like Day 4, our team headed out in different directions, except this time I was the only one going my own way. The teens were to attend a conference with Steve Fitzhugh and Kim didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to hear him again. She was sure the teens would love Steve and they did. Steve’s delivery style is best described as Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock meets Jesus.
While the others headed to the main meeting hall, I connected with other pastors and ministers from across the US. We gathered together in a lobby area catching up on life. Most of them were MACU alum. As we talked it dawned on me and a few of them, I had been a youth counselor for most of them during a summer camp. In the summer of 1998, I traveled on behalf of MACU as a member of a camp team. The team traveled to youth camps in Texas, Kansas, and Missouri. Today, these guys & gals were youth pastors in Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Virginia. Fourteen summers ago, God placed me in the lives of these men and women. Today, I was privileged to stand in their presence and listen to their stories. Without a doubt I was filled with gratitude and a measure of grace and mercy.
Before heading to lunch, our team reconnected at the XBox Dance-Off. I wasn’t afraid to make a fool out of myself, so I signed up. I was a bit disappointed as I didn’t get out of the first round. You watch the video and let me know what you think. I’m guessing I stepped out of the camera zone one too many times.
After lunch, we headed out for a tour of Colorado Christian University. Outside of a trio to the gym or theater at our local community college, the teens had never been to a college campus. Derry Ebert and his team did a great job of making us feel at home. As our tour was wrapping up, the rain came pouring down. I hope that a tour like this will help GPTeens consider earning their college degree though a Christian school.
A long shopping trip to Forever21 and H&M led to a late entrance into the worship service. On this night, Charlie Hall and band were leading worship. Charlie mixed his songs with new renditions of hymns like “Rock of Ages” and “Jesus Paid It All.” Once again, The Skit Guys brought forth truth through humor. This combined with stories of God’s healing on an Ohio youth pastor and his wife and the live call to a teen in Mississippi unable to attend the conference due to a health battle set the stage for Harvey Carey to remind us of God’s Spirit.
Harvey shared how God was empowering him and the congregation of the Citadel of Faith in Detroit to work to clean up the streets and families in their neighborhood. He reminded us that God’s presence isn’t about “goose bumps” but rather living in boldness and standing up to the oppression and evil in our world.
To close out the worship time, each group of the more than 4,000 participants moved into a time of communion. This is one of the more memorable moments of the conference. For many groups it serves as a time of confession and commitment. For our group, it was a moment of deeper connection. Our week together had reached this fulcrum and Christ was the center of it.
Back at the hotel, we shared a late night dinner in the hallway with the groups from Parkgate Community Church and Ira First Church of God. We knew these groups from summer camp and other conferences we attend in Texas. Over the slices of pizza our groups connected and encouraged one another as we prepared for the journey home.
Check out this highlight reel of the day.