Wednesday – The Race
Competition certainly ramped up this Wednesday as frisbee teams returned from the fields with soiled shirts, leaving a muddy trail. Meanwhile, on the volleyball courts, the rain provided a momentary diversion from the competitive spirit, as students celebrated by doing handstands in several inches of water and teams splashed each other to prove their grit. Grassroots campaign workers lobbied for their candidates over lunch with total strangers. National Convention even held its first ever TeenPact legislature during the afternoon show, as an unsuspecting horse, Nellie, was crowned chairwoman. A spirit of “lets just do it” seems to have settled on to campus.
A loaded presidential primary began today with open forum and lead straight into long lines streaming from Elections Hall and other voting locations as students cast their primary ballots. Many candidates, who had put in lots of hours campaigning and had t-shirts worn across campus, sadly did not make it out of primaries but did have an awesome opportunity to proclaim the grace of God. On the other hand, great exuberance accompanied the announcement of those who had passed through the primaries, and siblings could be seen flying out of their seats for one another. The Great Race, held just after primary voting concluded, allowed students an additional opportunity to make lasting, personal connections with candidates. All around Elections Hall, students created special handshakes, executed jumping jack routines, and shared stories as they got a chance to interact with candidates in a less formal environment. During the vice-presidential debates, all three candidates spoke with excellent poise and clearly proclaimed their passion for pursuing Christ.
In a powerful message full of memorable stories, Dr. Sean McDowell shared the immense importance of offering forgiveness, both to others and ourselves. Without obtaining freedom from bondage to past pain and grudges, hurt people will continue to hurt people. Dr. McDowell urged students to do what doesn’t come easily, because “forgiveness is not a feeling, forgiveness is not forgetting, and forgiveness is not a one-time choice. Forgiveness is an act of the will over a period of time where God is in the process of changing our hearts.” Our evening speaker, Mandy Meehan, lead us in celebrating God’s faithfulness through suffering. Hundreds of students stood to acknowledge the trials in their lives. By joining arms with one another and allowing God to take all we are into his hands, we corporately committed to allowing God to use our suffering for his glory. Because he is an eternal, loving God, we submit to his sovereignty in using our lives for what matters most, even when we cannot see.
In typical TeenPact style, a glowing evening of Coffeehouse was enlivened by Elijah Knapp, who had arrived at National Convention earlier in the day. Students gathered around the stage, and some were even asked on stage to beatbox as Elijah played freestyle piano with the crowd humming a simple tune. Students played games, linked arms, and huddled around the prayer board, all while trying to avoid the mud puddles illuminated by the soft glow of the hanging light strands. Friends, weary from the activity of the day, let down their walls and just had fun together.
Perhaps the loudest moment of the day, however, came when state coordinators took the stage and received a standing ovation for several minutes along with chants of “WE LOVE YOU! WE LOVE YOU!” Amidst all the activity of National Convention, what a wonderful reminder of the long chain of servant leadership and grateful hearts running through this ministry, all rooted in the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. What a joy to watch parents pour themselves out for students and to see students extending unlimited hugs to many parents besides their own. What a joy to watch the compassionate hearts of students who invite others who are lonely into their lunch groups. What a joy to come across small groups of two or three students, in any and every location, joining hands with one another in prayer. Surely, God is alive in us!
“For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for him who, for their sake, died and was raised.” – 2 Corinthians 5:13-15