Working my way backwards, the afterburner on Friday night was a blast. My youth group had vacillated on going at all, for though we had bought the tickets for $5 [and were not about to waste our good five bucks], church had ended really late and it was already 11:30 pm. The afterburner ended at 2 am. We decided to rush back the hotel, Pastor Chad decreed a 5-minute grace period for changing clothes, and BREAK! We split. Upstairs, downstairs, into the van, screeching on two wheels [just kidding] into the mall parking lot.
It was a blast. I had the most fun ever. It was so crazy to know that an entire section of a real mall was being overloaded by 6,000 Pentecostals only -- for an entire night! The roar was incredible, honestly, but I never felt threatened even if I was by myself, because everyone was so nice [and looked just like me!]. I was deeply unsurprised to observe dozens upon dozens of Apostolic young women make a beeline straight for a store that looked to contain like to thousands of pairs of shoes. Not only that, but several bands, including Ryan Johns [woo hoo!] and CLC's Encounter [woo hoo!] rocked the mall. They sounded so good; I was so proud of the talent and ability with which God has gifted His people.
Earlier in the evening, Brother Wayne Francis had chuhch. To put it simply, we loved it. His "Beyond the Drift" message to the young people of the Apostolic movement had the crowd on its feet for dozens of minutes at a time. Quotes from his sermon are stirring: "We gather at NAYC to celebrate and commemorate our Apostolicism. We're united by the Holy Ghost from when the church skyrocketed into prominence from the upper room. Then came Azuza Street. The question for us 21st-century Pentecostals is, Where do we go from here? Do we only celebrate the monument of past conferences, or do we blaze new tracks and pioneer in the Holy Ghost?"
[Here's more if you're a Wayne Francis fan kid like me: "Mediocrity comes right after you skyrocket away. When you're not actually sure what your mission is. When you have an absence of passion in your worship and prayer and dedication." Or how about this one: "Risk-Free Trial Bibles. That's what we want, a risk-free relationship with God, one that requires no payment and a multitude of gifts. If you stay in the boat, you'll never know if Jesus can keep you afloat! ... Get out of your boat. Say: I'm tired of regular, predictable, dry Pentecost. I want miracles, anointing, power! ... Give me JESUS; give me anointing! I want to go beyond the drift! If you hear Jesus calling you now, you better get out the boat and walk on surfaces that'll blow the human mind."]
After Brother Francis let us go, the place which had established a feeling of a contained supernova just more or less exploded. Praise and worship led us into a deep, stirring Presence of Jesus Christ. We began to realize the weight of the task and the burden and the gifts that God has given this generation. WE are the church. We are soul winners and musicians and doctors and witnesses! You could recognize our recognizing by the way we lingered for countless minutes in the altars. We wept and travailed and praised with sincerity. Youth Congress ain't playin no games.
- It was at turns funny and frustrating to see the amount of people who turned away to see their faces on camera. For a certain amount of time before service, the camera would pan around on the audience at various people to keep us entertained. Boy, were we ever. I felt an "Aw, come on, man" spirit come on me as girls, mainly, hid their face from the camera until it was gone. The cutest vids were when couples kissed or when little kids saw themselves and waved or smiled delightedly.
- You would not believe how hard it was to get paper towels out of the paper dispensers in the bathrooms.
- During the last day session, they had an IBC bluegrass group come up, and they did a great job. But some of the audience really stole the show when they began to do-sey-do on the floor. -> Someone made the comment, "A little more cowbell [would have been nice]" and I thought that was just the icing on the cake.
- There was also a Latino group who played right after the bluegrass. To put it lightly, we were in awe. They were soooo good on the guitars and, frankly, my jaw just went slack. "Wow" describes it best. One man kept the beat, the woman in the middle did some complicated numbers, and the man on the far right worked finger movements so fast that you couldn't really see what he was doing. It was amazing! I vote for them!
- Tim Ruttledge [TM] "You just can't fix stupid. Ignorance doesn't know any better, but stupid knows better and does it anyway."
- You would also not believe the amount of people slain in the Spirit after Friday night's service. They were everywhere: in the arena hallways, around the Bible college and whatever else booths, stumbling down the sidewalks, lying on the sidewalks. I counted dozens of people being carried, lying weeping on the ground, stumbling with their hands over their friends' shoulders. My friends and I were all commenting that the people on the sidewalks must think we're drunk, crazy, or both. It brought to mind Luke Levine's sermon, "We're Drunk, But Not Like You Think!" I wanted to say to the passerby-ers, "These men are not drunk as ye suppose!" I was deeply impressed with the Lord. We serve a mighty God!