At 6:30 pm, the only word to describe the Sommet Center was PACKED. It was completely pack-jam full of people. I more or less gawked like a country bumpkin to see so many people swirling around us at once. Not to put too fine a point to it, but everyone looked so nice! I admired swirling, fantastic hair dos that looked like they'd come straight from a professional [which no doubt they did]. I also felt a little better about the milling crowds of people who looked a) lost, like me, and b) who were craning their necks searching for anybody they knew. That was me the whole time.
So we didn't get the floor seats that my uncle [youth pastor in PA] had intended. But we came close enough. We eventually settled in to watch the Talent Show, which was pretty cool just to see so many young people dedicating their hearts to God and using their talent for the Lord. To be strictly honest, I know it was only a talent search, but silly goose me, I wanted anointing. Even though it was only five minutes in. Which, just as a shout-out, Stockton's CLC group was amaaazing!
I was also definitely expected a roar from the crowd. It seemed so quiet! I had figured on a lot of hype, if not worship and just noise in general. To me it felt a lot more subdued than I would expect THE event of NAYC was going to be. That's not necessarily a downer, I just noticed that.
Worship was the best. That's when the atmosphere started to change. People stopped looking around at each other or for each other or even at themselves. You could see a wave of it start to build where people started focusing on God and drawing Him to us. I was thinking inside: This is more like it!
The Bible quizzing bit was one of my favorite parts. Wayne Francis walked up to the stage and I am NOT ashamed to say I screamed until the walls were like to fall. I was bursting with pride to see those awesome, awesome young people honored in front of the whole NAYC for their amazing dedication to God's Word and to quizzing in general. BQ is too often underestimated. It is such a powerful tool that works on your mind, your heart, and the way you live. You can't escape God's Word once it's hidden inside you, and it will keep you through the most desperate times. I was so proud [having done a stint myself] of their hard work and God's blessing. Bible quizzing rocks!
So Shay Mann's message was right on target. I love his preaching style. You could tell that the message resonated with many of the people in the arena: you do not have stay living like you are. God is not finished with you. You CAN and should live out the destiny that the Lord has designed for you! [Well, that's what I read into it :)]
I about burst with pride for the second time in so many minutes when Bro Mann brought up Trey Kiessling (forgive if the spelling on the last name is wrong) with the other young people up to the stage. First of all, the stories of these kids' lives were amazing. No, they didn't just get saved, they're moving on to seek God's will in their life. But anyway, as Trey came up on stage, I shouted my already-hoarse throat to its limit. Trey is a really dedicated member of my youth group [the Crowd, Youth Pastor Bro Brad, woo hoo!]. I remember when he first came to the Crowd and rapidly started to become deeply involved in church. Like Brother Mann said, he's involved as a children's minister in the daughter church and he just received his ministerial license. We love Trey!
It was a time, I tell you, a time, attempting to get out of that arena after service ended. Packed doesn't begin to describe it after service ended. I felt like I was in a maze and someone was laughing no end at my plight to try to reach my youth group. Plus, everyone wanted to fellowship (no kidding), all over the place. It was so funny. We were all on the move, everyone attempting to hold a conversation as they along with everyone else were exclaiming over people they had just seen.
We came back home at 1. Fell into bed. Praise God for breakfast!