Considering It has been just over a month since I was in the largest church service I have ever been too, I am a little late with this post. It remains, however, a monumental part of my summer, of my year, and of my life, so I have decided to write about it anyway, because the message I received might help some of you 🙂
On August 1, 2019, my brothers and I hopped aboard three flights and found ourselves (on our lonesome) in St. Louis, Missouri for North American Youth Congress 2019. This marked the beginning of what would be three busy, but life-changing days. Similarly to NAYC17, my brothers and I would spend Congress with other missionary kids from around the world, both state-side and abroad. Compared to last NAYC, however, there was a difference: two years ago we had been introduced to the MKs for the first time, whereas this year, after two years of phone calls, face-times, and texting that drew us closer to one another, we were reunited, not even as friends, but as the weirdest, most eclectic family one can find. It was as though we had never left each other. The craziness we had become accustomed to did not change and only got worse over the course of the conference.
For as long as I could talk about the MKs, they are not the main subject of this post, though they played a great role in my experience.
Thirty-seven thousand people– that is, approximately, how many were in attendance at Youth Congress 2019. Despite this multitude of people, however, there were a couple moments where I was alone with the only One in the stadium who truly mattered.
In a stadium as large as “the Dome” was, one can very easily feel minuscule, like an ant in New York or any city for that matter, and such a feeling can be staggering and can take adjustment. On the first night of Congress, I remember arriving at the stadium and having to attach myself to other MKs, as we tried to keep our eyes on the flag that was being held up by the tallest among us. That person of 6’6 was trying to navigate us through the tight crowd of apostolics, all anxious to get inside. My amazement only grew after getting inside and having the crowd be just as dense as it was outside. Finding our seats took about 10 minutes, but from those seats we could watch the people file into the building.
Why, exactly, did I just spend a whole paragraph describing the multitude that is NAYC? Because, dear reader, there was something very important about said crowd. You see, it wasn’t just any crowd; 37,000 apostolics didn’t simply invade St. Louis for quality time with friends and good gospel music. No sirree! Those pentecostal young people came expecting God to do something great! They were gathered in His name, and as Matthew 18:20 tells us, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” So in case I did not make it obvious enough, honey, there were way more than two or three. There was no possible way God was not a part of those meetings.
Bro. Josh Carson preached the opening message, which would be the theme for the following services; he preached on “Kingdom Come,” and although I cannot remember all the specifics, I remember it spoke directly to my heart and brought me to my knees. The sound in the stadium, after the word was preached, was deafening, and the voices of thousands were raised so that they could be heard from blocks away. The noise was intense, yet, while I found myself weeping on my knees, it was just me and God. See, what was happening was God was taking a girl who had accepted where she’d been placed as a reality and He was giving her a purpose. He was speaking to her, not with words, but to her heart; it is an experience hardly describable, but when it happens, it is undeniable. I am speaking as a narrator, but that girl was me. God was reassuring me that I had a purpose and a calling, even if that calling might not be for the long-term. This moment was crucial for my life, and once I had been reminded of my purpose, I began feeling a burden for the people in France; the people that constantly surround me who are ignorant of the hope I possess. What this told me is that I am exactly where God wants me to be, and that if I make myself available to be used, God will use me to bring His kingdom to France.
Moments like that one happened every day, and God kept reinforcing the message by speaking through several of my friends. In hindsight, this insistence is making me realize how important it is to allow God to work through us. Many Christians, with a heart for God, pray to be used, but do not realize they have not made themselves available. God sometimes give us opportunities that we’re too afraid, hesitant, or proud to take because of how we might be perceived or because of how others may react. This is a flaw that I have noticed in myself and since discovering it, I have been praying for courage and pride in my Apostolic identity. I am not ashamed of what sets me apart from the world. After what Jesus did for me, how dare I be? He died so that I may live, that is a fact to be proud of.
The Friday night service was one for the books and one I will probably remember for years to come. That night, the missionary kids, being beneficiaries of SFC (Sheaves For Christ, [the focus of the last service]), were asked on stage, to pray over the congregation. This was a tremendous honour and privilege for me; that we would be asked to pray over a gathering of people, who support missionaries, such as my family and those of my friends, through funds and prayer was something I could not take lightly. I pray now that we were able to bless those people who gave, even if it was solely through our two minutes of prayer on stage. We stood on that stage, in front of thousands of people, thanks to those who gave to Sheaves For Christ. Standing there, the silent message was, “thank you for your giving and for your investment in the Kingdom. Thank you for putting your trust in us and in our families. And thank you for allowing us to be your hands and your voices all across the globe, reaching the lost and broken, and spreading the gospel.”
That night, Bro. Matthew Tuttle preached the message, “You Can’t Measure A Miracle” and he said, “we’ll never reach our world if we keep talking about our limitations.” Yet again, a message meant for me. God had been speaking to me of my purpose, but I often discouraged myself by putting limitations on myself, like so many others. We are human and, for some reason, we cannot seem to keep ourselves from comparing what we have, to what that person has. We say things like, “I’m not as good a singer or musician as he/she“, or “I’m not as outgoing as he/she, I can’t talk to them about that“, “I don’t know the Bible as much as he/she.” I know we all struggle with these thoughts, because I struggle with these thoughts, but as I am finding out, God can use whoever makes him or herself available. There is a world out there, beyond the safety boundaries of the church, that is hurting, broken, and searching to fill a God-shaped hole. We cannot afford to put worldly limitations on ourselves, because in doing so, we limit the God we glorify as omnipotent, almighty, and able to beyond what our minds can even comprehend. What we think to be limitations are self-inflicted. God can surpass those limitations, so I am going to start saying, “here’s what I have Lord, multiply.”
Ready, here we go. summary:
Over the span of three days, God was speaking to me and transforming the way I viewed my position, my purpose, and my potential. God let me know that I was placed in France for a reason and that I am still needed here; He confirmed my position. The city of Châtellerault, where our church is located, and the surrounding areas need to know that there is a church that serves a living God. As I prayed at the altar and even in my seat, I felt a burden for my friends that do not yet know of the freedom that there is in Christ; God specified my purpose. When He knew the doubts I would have with regards to my calling, he reaffirmed his identity by reminding me to stop measuring miracles. He was telling me to stop focusing on my limits and start seeing what He could accomplish through me; God redefined my potential.
God can do the same for you, He is just THAT awesome! 🙂