God accomplished some amazing things at FMYC. I can’t thank the HFM church enough for all of your support making it possible for us to go to this conference. I want to share about my incredible experience.
First, I was struck by the connections and fellowship that are fostered in the network of the Free Methodist Church. It amazes me how the body of Christ and the body of Free Methodists are so united in Jesus. Even among teenagers, this conference felt like one giant family gathering.
And God was an integral part of that gathering. His presence was evident in every aspect of the conference. Each speaker brought us the word of God in a way that challenged and stretched us. God was consistently present in every worship service. The main speaker was Phil Manginelli, whose heart for Jesus is extremely contagious.
I think it was Monday night, after a very spiritually intense service, our youth group experienced something very special. I don’t even remember exactly what Phil talked about that night, but I know the Holy Spirit was working in all our hearts. As we all climbed into the stuffy, smelly church van to ride back to our dorms, someone asked if we could sing. We put on music and began with “How Great is Our God.” No one really intended to spend an hour driving around praising Jesus with song after song, but that’s what happened. I can’t speak for everyone else, but that night, in the most unlikely setting, I truly worshipped God for maybe the first time ever.
I will be the first to admit that not all of our voices are exactly angelic, but to God we sounded like the sweetest chorus of angels. He loves the sound of our off-key singing when it comes from a heart that recognizes its inadequacy and chooses to praise the God of grace. We continued to sing and Pastor Dave [Turner] just eventually drove outside the town of Fort Collins until he found a dead-end, dirt road. He finally stopped in what felt like the middle of nowhere. The black night formed a backdrop for the even darker mountains, and thousands of stars lit up the sky. Dave read a verse to us and wisely reminded us that we were on a mountaintop spiritually, and he challenged us to continue our pursuit of Jesus when we returned home. I will never forget the atmosphere of that night for as long as I live.
The most important experience for me personally at FMYC came in the last couple days of the conference. One of the morning speakers was Linda Adams from ICCM, and many of the things she said tugged at my heart. One thing she shared was: “The quality of our worship or the feeling of nearness is not what it means to know Jesus. Jeremiah 22:16 says: ‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy. … Is that not what it means to know me?’ declares the Lord.’”
To know God means to love and care for His sheep. God’s heart is for His lost and hungry, hurting and broken children to know him. The need is great, and God has given me a passion for children. That day God confirmed my call into children’s ministry. But He went even further and during the last session of FMYC, something special happened in my heart.
Let me backtrack for a minute. I have felt since I went to Guatemala three years ago that missions was something I would love to do, only I didn’t know if it was God’s will or mine. It wasn’t that I was really afraid or uneasy about it. I just didn’t know what God wanted. So on that last night of the conference, I was certain about going into children’s ministry, and I knew that I would love it to involve missions, but God hadn’t made that part clear.
As I sat there in the auditorium listening to Phil Manginelli, God started a fire in my heart. That’s the only way I can describe it. The speaker began asking for responses to certain calls on our lives. It was such a powerful atmosphere. He first asked who among us had received a call at FMYC to go into missions work. As Phil spoke about those whom God had chosen and set apart to send to the nations and spread the light of Jesus, I was still not sure completely if my heart and desire to go into missions was from God or myself. But an amazing (but simple) thing kept stirring in my soul, and I knew, without a doubt in the world, that the Holy Spirit was prompting me to stand up in that moment and accept my call to missions.
I am so excited to be standing here in front of all of you and committing my future to Christ. Wherever He sends me and whatever He calls me to do, I am saying yes. I will spend my life serving Him. All I can do is celebrate now that I have heard from God so clearly. I can’t wait for whatever comes next.
Thank you once again, HFMC family, for sending our group to FMYC. God was present throughout every minute of it and went beyond my expectations to change my life through the experience.