We are all familiar with the popular song, “Lean on Me.” However, at ICYF I experienced this song in a way I never thought possible. At the conclusion of a very successful Friday, I saw the title of this popular song come out of the LCD projector and I thought, “Here we go again with this old song,” and my heart sank a little with the familiarity of the tune. As the music leaders Josh Elson and Paul Svenson started playing the repetitive chords, I rose and put my arms around the shoulders of my friends anyway. As the lyrics I had sung so many times before began to unfold, however, I realized that this rendition was not the same. This was awesome and exciting. Regardless of who you are, or how familiar a song it is, singing the same words with over 700 people is amazing. As we approached the end of the first chorus, now completely taken in by the song, I salivated with what was coming next. But as we began the much-anticipated “so just call on me brother” section, I was completely floored by what happened next. Josh and Paul dropped out on their guitars and all 750 of us in the hall were left to sing the well-known breakdown a capella (except for clapping, in which I was by this time enthusiastically participating). This was a deeply spiritual experience and was my first “God” sighting of the conference.
Ministry is my calling. I feel like after this week that I can truly see that now. My Feature Group was led by our denominational “Queen Bee” Sharon Watkins. Hearing her speak about her call and how she followed it was awesome. But the best part was seeing youth younger and older talk about their call. Some embraced it. Others ran away. I think back to earlier this week at Loch Leven Christian Camp sitting at Inspiration Point with a new friend, Alex, and seeing my first-ever shooting star. In that brief 20 seconds I felt God. You can run but you can’t hide from Jesus. You can pick up the phone now or wait for God to leave a message. But either way, he’ll get a hold of you.
Starting out in California was very exciting through seeing all of the palm trees, the Pacific Ocean, the entire night sky and how could I forget the mountains. For the first four days we were at a camp called Loch Leven for mission work. The greatest thing was looking everywhere around you and seeing gorgeous mountains. One experience that sticks out to me is when most of the camp decided to see the sunrise on top of Sam’s Peak. Getting up there was harder than expected, but once we did, we saw the most beautiful scenery you could ever see. Coming down the mountain would seem to be easier than climbing the steep piles of dirt, but we took a wrong turn that almost sent us down a five-foot drop. With the teamwork of about 20 people, we found the right path again and almost missed breakfast! It was so incredible seeing God through so many eyes that wanted us to be safe. I felt that experience brought me closer to those people. The rest of the week, we got to spend our time at Chapman University with 100 Loch Leven kids plus 600 more. We all formed closer bonds and had the most fun worshipping and singing to praise God. This place was inspiring!
I didn’t know what to expect for this trip, but I know I was extremely excited to go. What I experienced in this past week has been unlike any event that has ever happened in my life. I could never have imagined what a wonderfully spiritual and overwhelming journey this adventure turned out to be.
I found God in new places, feelings and people. I connected with God in so many new ways that I didn’t even know were possible and our relationship has never been stronger.
I saw His love showering over everyone and everything every day. It was a beautiful time that I cannot even begin to describe.
I met many new friends. I grew so close to some of them that we consider each other family. We were all brought together by our faith and love for God and this event helped us to learn to shine His light upon each other and the world. In addition to making new friends I strengthened and rejuvenated past friendships and we all grew closer with God smiling by our side.
I will never forget the memories whether it was climbing a mountain to watch the sunrise or sliding down an icy natural waterslide. The worship services were life- changing and I have never sung so loud or been so impacted by church in my life. They truly moved me in ways I can’t explain.
I learned, felt and experienced so many amazing things. It was extraordinary and God has completed me and I believe in Him more than ever. I plan to share His love and my love with as many people as possible, hoping that they can enrich their lives with the incredible changes faith creates.