After a quick stop in Accrington on the Thursday night to spend the evening with a church at their fun day, we headed to West Bromwich ready for Baptist Assembly! Taste have been involved with Innovation, the youth programme for a long time and we were anticipating a great weekend spending time with the young people. The main assembly was happening in the Bethel Christian Centre, but we had been given the brilliant venue of Warley Baptist Church to use for the weekend as our base. It meant that not only would we be doing events for the BA youth, but also for the Warley Baptist youth.
Not only were Taste going to be leading this event, (minus Elliemae who was unable to come with us) but we also had some additional helpers for the weekend which was really cool! The BMS Action Team joined us; Clare, Rachel and Clem were amazing to work with and we all got on with them really well. They had been working alongside the Warley Youth throughout the weekend and so knew them well. We also had three other familiar faces join us; Johnny English who was in Taste 3 years ago as the technician, David Scott who finished his second year with Taste in September, and someone who I have known for quite a long time, Andy (Indy) Roberts, who is in fact Joy and Andy’s nephew. Together I think we formed a great team!
We kick started the weekend with an event for the Warley youth on the friday night. The idea was to invite them to a Taste concert! They would then have the chance to get to know us before the BA group arrived the following day. The numbers weren’t huge so we decided to do a mixture of both Taste songs and knockout games; which caused many peoples’ competitive side to appear! It was great to get to know some of the local youth!
We were all staying together in an IMC hotel so we arrived quite late and crashed out ready for the next day! The BA youth were going to be meeting us in the morning as they were being bussed over from the Bethel Centre. We had a really fun packed day ahead on the Saturday, spending between 11 and 8:30 with them all in Warley Baptist Church. Our meals were provided for us in the church and we used it as a base throughout the day until they had to return back to the Bethel Centre to meet their parents that evening.
Reece spoke at the first session which was looking at ‘Who Is Peter?’ It was great to be working with a bigger band- we even had two electric guitars on some songs! They loved doing things like the Mix Dance together.
After lunch we moved into another session, which was going to be slightly different as we split the younger youth from the older youth for the end part of the session. Both groups looked at the subject of ‘Higher’ which was focussed on Peter- Who do you say I am? Andy Roberts spoke at the 11-15s and the 16+ group had the Action Team take theirs. It was really nice to be able to be amongst a smaller group and to be able to spend some time with our small groups. As a response, we got them to write who they say God is on a piece of A4 paper, and we hung them up on a washing line so that everyone could read them. It was so powerful!
Not only were there worship sessions throughout the weekend, but also workshops on both the Saturday and Sunday. I was asked to lead my art workshop which I have done recently in different places. Also on offer was sport options and drama. We had a brilliant time getting messy with the paints and canvases!
After tea, we moved onto our final session of the day. I was hosting on Saturday evening along with Johnny English. I was also going to be leading the worship for this session. Josh was speaking on Saturday night about ‘Deeper’ When Peter denies Jesus. God was really moving through that session!
Our final day at BA was Sunday. Once the BA youth had arrived we got started straight away with Session 5; it was another split session so after our several items which kick start the time we have together, and some worship, the groups split and Josh took the older ones off to spend time with them, and I kept the younger ones in with me in the main venue.
I was going to be talking about Wider: Peter on the rooftop. The main points of my talk was looking at how God has called us to be amongst the lost and He is going to use us in the settings we are placed in; school, friends, family. And there are so many people in our lives who are missing The Real Thing. They look for The Real Thing in things that will satisfy them, like drugs, alcohol, especially as we are growing up and are in school but The Real Thing is God! And we can show them that by being like Jesus. As a response I gave them a piece of paper with a coke bottle on it, where they could write the name of someone they are going to pray for and aim to speak about Jesus to them.
There were more activities on offer in the workshop time; myself and Josh led a singing workshop and there were some really talented girls in that group! It sounded incredible!
The final session of the weekend arrived on Sunday afternoon. We decided to do it slightly differently to the other sessions and had a time of worship and testimony of the weekend. It was really powerful to hear how some of them have felt they have changed over the course of the weekend. We all stood round with pieces of paper, and on one side wrote how we felt previously, and the other side how we feel now the weekend was over. There was a great sense that the majority were feeling closer to God which was amazing. We celebrated together in worship to finish the weekend off; I even put down my guitar and joined in with the conga line whilst singing ‘Celebrate’ !
Such an amazing bunch of young people that we met over the weekend and I’m praying that what they have learned over the weekend at BA with us, they will have taken away what God has said to them and will be feeling stronger and closer to God.