It is a special night. The air is crisp and you can FEEL the life in it. Some strange sort of “electricity” seems to be permeating all things. Smiles abound. Faces look alive. Colors seem brighter. Voices seem clearer. All things just seem VIVACIOUS! It is clear to me that this is not your ordinary evening. This worship service is NOT going to be like many others. There is a presence here, weaving its way between hearts, minds and lives. Tonight is about community. It is a shared experience. It is real. It is truth and it is life. The Holy Spirit is doing something.
We all have experienced such an event. It is usually not at a Sunday church service, for some strange reason. It usually occurs at some larger gathering. It is usually a seminar, a camp or something similar. For me, it is every end of summer at a place called Faith Quest. Within the walls of Camp Yamhill, that is where I always experience God in such a real and profound way every Labor Day weekend.
This gathering is an annual gathering of High School teens from the Pacific Northwest (and Canada and Cali too ). I have the privilege of attending and sometimes helping out every year. It has become very special to me. I get to see friends there that I miss throughout the year. I get to experience the grace of the cross in an exciting and refreshing way. And I always get to make new friends.
I find myself trying to figure out what it is about this event that reaches so deep into the recesses of my soul. I believe God is with me every second of the day. He is there on Sundays and Wednesdays. He is there when I awake and when I go to sleep. I can feel him at other places. Yet, Faith Quest stirs something. What is it? There are many possibilities.
Is it the praise team? No. These guys are AMAZING. I would kill to have them come to my camp. They are extremely talented and creative. And they create an environment where kids can pour their voices out. They are important, but not “it”. Is it the directors who I know and respect so much? No. These 4 men are amazing role models and inspirations. They are fearless. They are bold. They are Godly and because of their prayers and efforts have brought SO many souls to God. Yet, they are not “it”. It is not the excellent speakers, classes or even the setting, though one again, these are all amazing.
And after much reflection and thought, I think I know what it is. It is the freedom I see in the kids! They are what move me. They are what excite me. They are the “it” I was searching for. I am so encouraged with the kids and they way they express themselves and worship at this wonderful place. It is such a joy to see a place where teens in our brotherhood can be real. A place where they can open up and let go. A place where they can worship any way they want and not worry a bit if “someone is watching”. It is a place where the “freedom in Christ” is truly and clearly displayed to me. Watching 400 kids jump and dance in joy is life changing. Watching their hands pierce the dark night sky, raised to God in praise. Watching their faces and their hearts being worn on their sleeves in joyful adoration……THIS is what takes me to that special place. This is my “mountain top experience”.
It is a special and rare place that can bring this out in today’s disconnected youth culture. It is hard to get a kid to worship with all of their being. My teens express themselves there in a way they would never feel comfortable to do back at home. This makes my heart cry, but it also means that much more that there is one place where they feel comfortable and free. MUCH credit should go to the directors and staff for breeding such an environment as this. GOD is lifted. GOD moves here.
I miss it already and cannot wait for next year. The prospect of the place filled with twice as many souls excites me in ways that I cannot express. I have NO CLUE what God will do, but I am confident it will be earth shaking.
Thank you Faith Quest. You shape my soul.