Yesterday was our last day at Biola and I’m a little late in getting our final CIY blog up b/c this morning we were running all over the place loading vans, and I wanted to get enough sleep for the drive. I woke up early and went to coffee with a friend of mine named Chase who works with CIY. When I got back around 7:30, no one was awake! Our group had a pretty rough time getting to breakfast. I let Connor McKenna sleep through breakfast as long as he ate a Nutrigrain bar and showed up at the morning session on time.
CIY had a “records board” in which each conference would try to set a new record. Our conference decided to go for the “largest pillow fight” record, so all the students brought their pillows to the main auditorium and went at it for a few minutes… the CCS leaders were meeting outside, so we didn’t get to see it, but I heart it was pandemonium! (BTW, if anyone has pictures of that, I’d love to have ’em) After the morning session we went to our D-group time where we discussed how to “endure” … how to stay strong in your faith and convictions despite the distractions and opposition that you may face.
That afternoon they had a camp-wide dodgeball tournament. Our group had bought some red Elmo t-shirts from Wal-mart before coming, so they all wore those shirts. The very first match Connor hit some kid in the head, and what made it more epic was that it was the first throw! Our group won the first two games, but lost the third on a techinicality. Several of us then went up to the soccer field to play a big game for the rest of the afternoon.
Last night’s evening session was easily one of the most powerful I’ve seen in a long time, and I’ve been going to CIYs for about 8 years. The Ben Kolarcik band was AWESOME… I appreciated the fact taht Ben took some time in between songs to teach the students what the words meant and to direct them in worship.
The theme was “endure,” focusing on staying strong with the call that God has given you. Jayson French told a story about hiking in the Alaskan tundra, and how after the first night his foot hurt so bad that he had to bandage it with duck tape in order to keep going. He then asked the question: “are you willing to keep walking, even though it hurts?” After that Jayson began talking about the apostle Paul and everything that he went through… he was beaten, he was stoned, he was bruised, he was persecuted. He talked about time and time again that Paul was physically battered and his life was threatened, but he WOULD NOT stop preaching about Jesus, and every opportunity Paul had to quit, he decided to endure.
The entire time he was telling the story of Paul, Jayson was tearing off strips of duck tape and throwing them on the ground. At the end of Paul’s journey, he wrote a letter: some of the last known words we have from Paul before he died, an old man battered and broken from preaching the gospel. The words were the letters to Timothy, specifically these words: “in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season, correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction…for I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith.”
In the last moments of his life, an old man bruised and battered from years of refusing to quit gives his last charge to Timothy: preach the Word! Jayson then talked about how Timothy went on to a faithful minsitry in Ephesus, eventually being murdered during a pagan festival for preaching against what they were doing. He then held up the last strip of duck tape and challenged our students: “Paul got his head chopped off. Timothy got murdered. Peter got crucified upside down next to his wife. Matthew got drug through the streets for preaching. Luke got hung from a tree. Jesus got crucified. But they endured. Are you willing to keep walking? Are you willing to give it all? If you’re ready to preach, then come get your tape….” He called our students to be “preachers” … to be kingdom workers for the cause of Christ.
All of us were dead silent. Then slowly one by one students began flooding the stage, picking up pieces of tape, ready to give their lives to kingdom work. We put arms around each other, prayed for each other, and had an awesome time of worship at the end of the session.
In our youth group time we had everyone who grabbed the tape stand and tell us why. The reasons ranged from “I couldn’t believe everything that Paul went through for the sake of the message and I’m not even willing to speak out because I’m afraid of getting made fun of” to “I’m ready to give my life to the work of the kingdom and to making Christ known.” It was amazing to see students, some of whom hardly knew each other, open up like that. Also we got in trouble for moving all the furniture out of the entire building and into one room (couches and comfortable chairs etc) and someone left us a friendly note! 🙂
That night we had some wrestlemania in the dorms, and some great laughs and conversation. It was an awesome end to an awesome week. Thanks to you parents for making it possible!
I’ve already written too much, but needless to say it was an incredible night. I pray that I will be prepared as a pastor to follow up with these students and continue to pour into them. I also pray that our families at CCS would continue to invest and participate in the spiritual development of their teens…
I’ve got to figure out something to talk about for tomorrow morning’s youth service… but in reality I’ve got way too much to talk about! Just need to figure out how to make it short!
God is real, alive, present, and working. To Him be all the credit and glory.
I’ll never stop walking, no matter what…