I don’t know about you, but to me, it feels like the years get shorter as I get older!
These days, I blink and it’s New Year’s Eve again. But think back to when you were a teenager; a school year felt like a lifetime. So imagine the duration of three years for a young person. So many changes happen in these years; so much character development and identity formation.
Consider what would happen if for much of those three years you couldn’t go to church in person and didn’t want to go online. Imagine that you were largely cut off from your Christian friends and youth leaders, with the main influence on your worldview being the disproportionate amount of time you spent using social media.
Imagine your Christian worldview becoming more and more unsustainable as you felt more and more isolated; your faith is hanging by a thread because you have not been able to come together with other believers in a way that has made you feel rational again, and meet God in powerful and transformative ways that have energized you in your journey of faith.
Three years. How long has it been since we met in person for Limitless Festival. And now, on the other side of a rally on a show ground in Stafford with thousands of young people, I am acutely aware of how damaging it has been for them to have been denied this opportunity. As one youth worker who was present later wrote: “As the week progressed, I slowly realized how much we had missed during the pandemic.
And yet, as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Maybe the separation made the experience even sweeter. Because, in all my life, I never seen young people worship like they did this year. From the front to the back corners of this huge event space, I saw young people surrendering completely, voices raised and hands raised in passionate praise.
You could see it. You could feel it. Faith revives again in the lives of young people:
“I felt God’s love for the first time in years, I didn’t‘I haven’t been the same since, my youth group and my leader all said they saw a change in me.
“After a long period of feeling estranged from God, I had powerful encounters with the Holy Sspiritresulting in laughter, tears, joy and incredible peace in my heart.
“I was spiritually recharged and realized how important it is to have a connection and relationship with God.”
fan in flame
The times of ministry were profound as God moved in goodness and power, bringing deep restoration and renewal:
“He healed me emotionally from so much brokenness, fog and confusion. He rekindled a spiritual fire within me and reminded me of who I am within him. He is such a good, good God. I am blown away by his love for me.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been crippled by low self-esteem and an eating disorder, and now it’s like I’m living through a whole new set of eyes… I have never been so free or felt so loved.”
We also witnessed the power of God as young people prayed for each other for physical healing:
“I have arthritis and have had it since I was a baby. Recently, my pain had increased rapidly. During the service, I was prayed for and my pain was completely taken away.
“My knee gave out when I was sprinting which meant I had to go to A&E, and because of that I’ve been limping for two days. Yesterday during morning shift they prayed for my leg and now I can run and move my leg without pain!
“Three years ago I tore my Achilles tendon and it healed but it was still very tight and could be painful at times. In the session this morning a group from my church prayed for my healing and now everything is fine!”
A call to faith
But the power of these events lies just as much in what happens after them as in what happens at their. Young people heard God’s call to action and mission:
“God asked me to go out and speak his word to my friend at home and try to spread the word to the non-the Christians.”
“I lived my first vocation. I felt called to start an environmental movement in my college and start a movement for environmental justice in the name of the Lord.
“I feel like God has really equipped me to go out and spread the word of God as well as break my heart for the children of South Africa. I feel like God really wants me to help find it.
“I found God’s purpose for my life that I would be a missionary in Poland, and God told me the exact city where I would go.”
Find a new life
But best of all, we celebrated an astonishing 484 young people who responded to the gospel! Heaven rejoices!
“I gave my life to Jesus after realizing for the first time that he has already forgiven me of my sins and that he sees and has seen everything but still loves me. Even when I turned my back on him, he never turned his back on me.
“I gave my life to Jesus on Tuesday. God has supported me all my life and this week made me realize that.
“I gave my life to Christ for the first time. It was great!”
“I decided to give my life to Jesus and since then I like to talk to him.”
“I gave my life to Christ, I‘I am so happy !!!!!!!!!!!!!”
And so, as Mike Pilavachi told me as we talked one sunny afternoon during his visit to the Limitless Festival: “When the time comes that we find a better way to help young people encounter Jesus, we will let drop all that and do that. . Until then, we must continue like this. »