For the last few summers the Aspen Ridge DV8 Student Ministries team has partnered with Christ in Youth for their summertime high school camp called Move. The adult volunteer team and the students have always come back with incredible stories of being challenged in their faith, growing closer to God, and some have even put their faith in Christ at the event in years past. Learning about this event for the first time when I came on staff with Aspen Ridge, I have been looking forward to the experience.
On July 10, we left for this year’s event and we chose to attend the Lincoln event hosted on the University of Nebraska’s campus. While I didn’t know what to think about spending a week at the “Home of the Huskers,” I was excited about the trip. It’s about a 9-hour trip to Lincoln, so we had plenty of bonding time as we rode in the 2 church vans. At the beginning of the trip, we ended up collecting all the student’s phones from them to keep for the week. This is an attempt at “unplugging” the students from the digitally-saturated world in which they live. While this practice is obviously met with complaint, it was amazing to see the students over the week without social media and digital connection. The van ride was filled with games, singing, sleeping, talking and even ukulele playing.
We had a smooth transition into the week thanks to great staff at both CIY and the university. One of the reasons we had chosen Nebraska was because of the “terrible” food at the Durango CIY event, and we really were treated well in Lincoln. Every meal had at least 4 options, plus salad and cereal. Unlimited ice cream made for a nice, cool snack, since the week in Nebraska rarely dropped below 90 degrees with 60%+ humidity. The temperatures left us missing our beautiful cool dry home in Evergreen/Conifer.
I was pleasantly surprised with the program at CIY. The week was based on a study of Peter’s life and his walk with Jesus. Each day had a theme to it, and the students got to take a look at being called, trusting in Christ, failing and then getting back up to follow Christ. The various speakers really hit home each topic, in which the kids and the atmosphere opened the group to really digging into their faith and feelings. The leaders got to participate in leader meetings everyday and got to strategize about how to make the most of each day with the students. In addition to great speakers and student group times, CIY had an incredible worship band that lead us through the week in a spirit of praise. We learned a few great new songs and got to spend some wonderful time worshiping the God of the Universe.
The speakers presented the gospel several times over the course of the week, too. At the event of over 1900 people, more than 100 came to Christ sometime that week. It was an incredibly moving experience because each time someone wanted to put their trust in Christ they were asked to pick up a big rock and throw it in a big metal container. The container was hooked to a microphone so each decision sent a resounding BOOM through the auditorium to simulate the response to faith in heaven. In one night, over 80 people decided to put their faith in Christ, and while our group consisted of all confessed Christians, we still had many tear-filled eyes over the multitude of students who were joining God’s kingdom.
As the week went on, we all grew closer as a group and it was a beautiful thing! Normally shy students opened up about life and God, and normally outgoing students sat back to listen to their peers share feelings. What a blessing!
As the week was closing out, many different challenges were presented to the students. The challenge to accept Christ as savior was one that I believe all my students already had taken up, so we didn’t see any new believers in our group at CIY, BUT we did have 10 students recommitting their lives to God. We also had every single student (23) commit to living for God wherever He sends them in life. We also had 1 student feeling a calling into vocational ministry. What an incredible ending to an incredible week!
I really do want to thank everyone who made this trip possible, from the parents who entrusted their students to DV8, to the sponsors who bought snacks for the kids trip, to the many of you who mentioned you were praying for us. And a special thank you to my adult leader team that came along - Marty Lake, Gina Obrecht and Kyndall Nixon - without you all this would not have happened.