Monday – Arrival
Shouts of exuberance and a cascade of signs announced the entrance to the grandest TeenPact gathering of the year, greeting each van, buggy, semi, and campus police vehicle that drove past. Likely, the love of TeenPact could be heard throughout Cleveland Tennessee. The joy of each reunion was eclipsed only by the joy of the next, as friends bounced from one to another, enveloping each other in love. Buses released sea after sea of smiling faces and rolling luggage as staffers offering countless hellos began to lose their voices. What a delight it was to watch the yard games around Coffeehouse take on new life as they brought together strangers from Oregon to Mississippi as unexpected friends. Even the rain couldn’t dampen spirits, as students turned to praising Jesus beneath the shelter of the gazebo. Just like that, campus was alive.
Gathering outside around barbeque and corn on the cob, we gave thanks for the kind summer weather and the warm hospitality of the Lee University staff and food providers. There was no chance of saying hi to everyone, but there was also no doubt of meeting someone new. A great peace had come at being all together at last, at rest, at home.
Entering the first session, it became apparent this crowd needed no helping finding energy. Students fed off each other. Then suddenly, everything was black. Chaos and confusion reverberated as disjointed images flashed across the screens. It was tension, agony, the profound sense of being lost. Suddenly, all grew still and a sound of hope emerged, as every voice began to cry, “Jesus, Jesus, you make the darkness tremble” over and over. Together, some 900 people came face to face with the very real sense that they stood upon holy ground, where the Spirit of God was powerfully at work. We rejoiced in proclaiming together that God was the Word at the beginning, the one who had brought all of this from nothing.
So why are we here? Not just at National Convention, but here on earth? Quinton Cools, our National Convention Program Director, posed this question and turned to Acts 17 for an answer. He unpacked the beautiful reality that even when God is unknown to us, we are still seeking after him. We were made to seek God, but the real beauty is that he is already seeking us. Not only are we to spend our whole lives seeking more and more of him, but we are also able to revel in knowing the heart of the God who has made himself known for our sake. What joy!
As we sang Great is Thy Faithfulness, an overwhelming sense of God’s goodness to TeenPact for so many years swept across the room. All those who had just arrived, State Coordinators, Class Directors, and all-in families, seemed such evident manifestations of God’s faithfulness to this ministry. What a glorious thing to give thanks for all God has been for TeenPact and all he will be.
We eagerly anticipate the continued outpouring of God’s grace over every life as we willingly offer up our schedules, our plans, and our desires into his hands. May he be glorified in the week to come, just as he has been since the dawn of time. To God be the glory!