To get us back on the road for the weekend, we were invited to Southampton where we were leading 30 young people in worship and teaching. On Friday we travelled for 3 hours down south to set up for the weekend event with the youth from Romsey Baptist church. We were planning to be leading four main sessions, with additional activities during the weekend programme also happening.
With only a short space of time between arriving and the first evening session beginning, we had to set up the equipment at a very fast pace in order to be ready on time. The centre we were situated in was a large Manor which was run as a YMCA centre and was full of many other youth groups who were doing similar things to us. Our venue was a ‘conference room’ and we were sleeping in dorms. I was given a leaders room which meant an en suite!!!
The first evening session was great; to meet the kids, to play our games such as Jammin and to do the mix dance! We led them in a time of worship and with some of the more well known worship songs like Strength Will Rise and Light of the World, but we also introduced them to a song written by Josh called Livit Loud. These young people were from a mixture of backgrounds and we first thought that they were all churched, but we soon found out that there were a fair few who weren’t churched and were only connected to the youth work by some of the clubs during the week. It meant that there was a diversity between some who had been to Soul Survivor and then some who hadn’t really sung many worship songs at all.
Joy led the teaching on the first night and she spoke about us being designed by God and how we have been made for His purpose; to live a life of worship.
A late night Friday night and an early start on Saturday morning! The morning programme began after their morning activities. Though the weather didn’t appear too promising, it didn’t shake the young people who were very keen to try the high ropes! I can’t say I was too keen to join them!! My second time of hosting a session with Josh meant that I was able to learn even more during the weekend. Taste performed one of our songs; Everything talks about giving everything to something you are passionate about and fits in well with the theme that Andy was speaking on later in the session. Our item ‘what’s in the mail’ saw a few comments on the kids being up too late at night… Some of us Tastys were oblivious; I would recommend a pair of earplugs! After more sung worship led by Josh, Andy spoke to them about how we worship. He said that worship is about having a friendship with God which means that we allow Him to be part of every area of our lives. In our small groups we were encouraged to look at some verses about making God part of our every day life; my group of girls were looking at Ephesians 6:10-12 and we had a good discussion about the armour of God and how we can put it into practice in our school/ college lives.
Throughout the day there were various activities on offer. The site at the Manor was perfect in size and in what it had to offer. Our drummer Reece overcame his fear of heights by deciding to have a go at abseiling! It was very windy as it was the day the storm was approaching but he managed to make his way down safely and wasn’t too scared! Well done Reece!
Our third session saw Reece sharing his testimony about his past and how things have changed for him over the past year. The young people listened intently as he shared where he had messed up but then how amazing it is to be saved by Gods grace. It linked really well into the Taste song Down and Out; it talks about how there is hope in this world even when things feel so rubbish. Josh then spoke to us about how things can go wrong if we take our eyes off God. Reflecting on Reece’s story but also looking at the story of David and Bathsheba, Josh led us through a time of recognising we needed to repent and turn back to God, or for some of the young people, making that decision to turn to Him for the first time. A very powerful evening with a lot of things to reflect on!
After the evening session we had organised a Lifted’s Got Talent show for them all to participate in. Reece, myself and their youth leader Tony were asked to be on the judging panel; a very hard job due to their being so many talented people taking part! It was a great way to end a brilliant day.
Our final day on Sunday was just as fun. I was hosting with Josh again for the final meeting and we did our last Mix dance with them all; getting loads of the youth to the front and letting them show off their dance moves! Joy was speaking to them about how we need to continue to worship God through the hard times. It was the perfect opportunity for me to share my testimony about how in these last few months I have had to continue to look to God even though I have been experiencing really tough situations. I touched on forgiveness and how even though people do things to hurt you, make you feel unloved, reject you, we still need to do what God does to us when we muck up; to forgive. It was a very hard thing to talk about for me because my home situation is so current and like most people I have good and bad days. It was challenging but so worth it. I was able to pray with a girl afterwards about a situation quite similar to mine, and I really felt that God had used my vulnerability to speak to those young people on Sunday.
The last session finished with a praise party; as they conga danced into the dining hall they all got given very funny looks from the other youth groups and the YMCA staff!
The weekend was brilliant because even though we weren’t able to have enough time to build relationships with every one of the young people, through what was said and through the songs that were used, we feel that it was so rewarding because God really used us in ways we probably don’t realise. It is great to meet people on all spectrums of relationships with God and to help and encourage each one through what we have been called to do. Please pray for the Romsey baptist youth; that they will be remembering the weekend and remembering what was said, and that they will consider making a step of faith this week. Thank you God for the answers to prayer and for those who have already made that commitment!