SOLID festival !!

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These last few weeks have been pretty crazy preparing for a few different tours which happened one after the other! And first stop, it was Solid! Solid is an annual event run by Viz-a-Viz Ministries which invites young people from the surrounding area in Essex to come and get to know God better through meetings, fellowship and also, fun! It takes place at Stubbers Activity Centre which is in Upminster. They set up a Big Top, other venues such as cafés, and they camp for the weekend with their youth groups.

Up until a few weeks before the event, Taste we’re going as helping hands. A few members of the team were involved with running venues and solids got talent, and we were all going to be leading the worship at Junior Solid which happens on the Sunday. However, we were asked to lead worship for the whole weekend which was crazy exciting and we were so up for it! To be able to lead 500 young people in worship, in a massive tent in the middle of Essex, who could say no!

We arrived on Friday lunchtime to begin set up. The Big Top had been assembled and the staging guys and sound engineers were busy constructing a huge stage with all the lights and gear that we needed. It was all looking really good. There were a few big screens, we created a backstage area, it was great! Once the other guys had moved over we were able to set up our instruments and sound check on stage. Unfortunately Elliemae was unwell on Wednesday night and so she wasn’t able to be with us until the Sunday which was a real shame 😦 my mentor Beth came and stepped in to play keyboard for us. We also had another ( slightly more planned ) change to the band; Luke Capon who was a previous Taste bass player came and played bass for us, which meant we had 2 electric guitars as Andy had moved onto electric! It was sounding really great and I was really excited to get started. The first meeting started on Friday evening at 8pm.

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The speaking for Youth Solid was Ian Henderson who has previous connections with Viz but who now works and lives in Manchester. I had heard Ian speak before at Newwine a few years ago and so I was really excited about the opportunity to hear him again but also to get to know him personally! Andy and Joy are good friends with him, and we really enjoyed working in a team with him. The theme for this year at Solid was Kingdom Culture. The areas we looked at in the sessions were Grace, Truth, Generosity and Community.

On the first night there was a moment to respond to the message Ian had shared. We were aware that not only were there churched young people, but there were a fair few non Christians who had come along because of the other activities that the centre were offering over the weekend. That first night we watched as around 80 young people left the Big Top to go and be prayed for about making a commitment! And that was just the first night!!

Day 2 at Solid started rather early! We had our morning meeting beginning at 8am which meant we had a team meeting at 7am! The team we’re were working with were a great bunch, we had sound guys, lighting guys, camera guys, we had two Big Top hosts called Ben and Tamara. It was brilliant to get to know them over the weekend.

We were expecting slightly less to come to the morning meeting because of how early it was!! But we got a reasonable sized crowd in and we were able to worship together.

After the morning meeting we headed over to Lakeside Cafe, another venue where Josh and Reece were hosting the auditions for Solids Got Talent. There were some amazing acts, with the majority of them being singers, but I found it hard to pick my favourite! Luckily I wasn’t judging!

After the auditions the judges had picked 3 finalists and the final was due to take place in the Big Top that afternoon. We had a bit of breathing space over lunch time and I was able to go and support Billericay Baptist’s football team and hang out with my youth for a little while.

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We then had to rearrange the Big Top and set out some cafe tables ready for the final of SGT. My friends from BBC Isabel and Lydia were running the cafe and we even had a very popular guest judge arriving for the judging panel. Guvna B! He was coming to perform in the after hours program but we managed to ask him to judge the final of the talent show. The boys that won were a 3 piece band who write their own original songs, and they were phenomenal. I could easily listen to them over and over again!

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We cleared away and had dinner ready to start the evening meeting ( after Reece had helped out Billericay’s footy team in the football tournament) . The weather was beautiful all day, I had made the mistake of wearing jeans!!! It was glorious sunshine which was just what we wanted!

… Or so we thought. We were sat round having the team meeting before the evening session started, and it chucked it down all of a sudden followed by a thunder storm. The techies were were concerned about their equipment and that we could be a conductor of being struck by lighting due to the metal poles of the Big Top. We had to have an emergency prayer meeting, in the hope that the evening session wouldn’t be cancelled for safety precautions.

And it was a miracle because the thunder and lightening stopped! God answered our prayers. How amazing. We were able to continue with the programme and have another brilliant evening where even more young people were saved!!!!

We also were asked previous of getting involved with leading worship, to be part of Thundersley’s youth band. The guys from TCC who lead worship in the youth band had asked us to be part of their late night worship on Saturday night. We had a quick change moving some of our instruments across the field in the dark to Lakeside cafe where we lead a smaller number of people in worship. We started at 11:15 and finished at 12:30!! Pretty late to finish singing! I loved that evening though as even though I was on stage, I could relax and I really felt like I could focus on God. Livvie from TCC also did some spoken words, which were incredible ( she did one during the Big Top meeting too) and they actually gave me goosebumps!!!

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Our final morning was a slightly later start but the day looked different to the Saturday! We had Junior Solid to do too! While the youth camping were beginning to wake up and pack away their tents ( in the rain !!) we had about 300 children come and fill the big top for Junior Solid. Arise Ministries were heading that up and we were leading the worship. We did a quick introductory session with the kids before they went off and enjoyed their activities around the activity centre. Then, we said hello to the youth solid gang, who turned up ready for their final meeting of the weekend. Ian was speaking on Community; one of his illustrations was a cows tongue as he was talking about the power of the tongue. We had welcomed back Elliemae who had returned on Sunday morning but she was still quite fragile so she went home to rest after the youth solid session.

It was sad to say goodbye to the youth as they left the meeting. It was interesting to see how their interest and openness to worship had evolved over the course of the weekend. By the Sunday there were more hands raised and people looked more engaged which was great.

We had lunch and said goodbye to Ian. We had a few hours where we were going to pack down as much as we could before the final solid session of the weekend took place.

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The kids piled back in again and we got them up dancing to songs like Shine and Let Your Light Shine! All around the room was massive items that had been made ready for the talk. During the talk some of the team went and painted the items ( TV, text book, house, iPod, phone) green so that they could bring out the God colours in the everyday objects.

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Solid was over! And it was such a shame that it had to go so fast! We were completely exhausted and in desperate need of a lie down!!! But it was an incredible weekend, one that I will never forget. God was moving in so many peoples lives and nearly 200 young people became Christians that weekend!! How exciting!

It was then time for a quick sleep and turn around before we went off on tour for our final schools week the following day!

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