When I was a freshman in high school, a friend invited me to a Jars of Clay concert that her youth group was attending. I knew just one other person who went to the church, and I had no idea who the band was, but I was so excited to go out to this concert. I had no idea that going to that concert would have such a profound impact on my faith.
Do you want to know what didn’t happen at that concert? I didn’t begin to trust Jesus more. I didn’t clean up the foul mouth that I had in high school. And I was dealing with some serious teenage drama (because in reality, any teenage drama is serious when in the midst of it). But I don’t say any of that as if the concert trip with the youth group was not fruitful. In fact, I would consider this Jars of Clay concert to be a pivotal moment in my high school career.
Something happened there that changed the trajectory of my life: I was welcomed as a part of the group. I didn’t necessarily fit in immediately, and the leaders were definitely taking a risk on bringing along a girl they didn’t really know. So why do I consider this so life changing? I didn’t even know what I was missing, but I was drawn to the faith I witnessed in this group. The next time I went back to the church, the leaders remembered my name, and there were cute boys (among others) in the youth group who became my friends. To a high school girl, those two things meant the world to me. This sparked an interest in the church that would lead me to following Jesus.
We’ve been busy up in Student Ministries, preparing for one of the most exciting weekends of the year! It’s like going to a Jars of Clay concert, having a lock-in, and serving on a mission trip all in 48 hours! Students count down the days waiting for what this awesome weekend will bring. They’re excited about what they are going to do as they head to their host homes, enter the lobby, experience the worship band, and hear the speaker. The cool thing about DNOW this year, as in every year, is that each of their experiences will be uniquely different.
For some of our younger students, this will be the first time they have ever stayed away from their family. Simply sleeping over at someone else’s house is a HUGE deal. Having friends alongside them makes this step of faith possible. They may walk away remembering how they stayed up all night giggling and eating junk food. It’s going to be such an exciting experience for them!
Many students bring friends who aren’t part of Mt. Bethel. Those friends, like the 14-year-old me, don’t quite know what to expect but are going to have the time of their lives! They are going to make new friends and form great connections with their college leaders and host home parents. They’ll feel cared for as they eat all sorts of delicious food and are treated with such amazing love. Coming to DNOW is going to be a decision that will change the course of their lives because they are going to FEEL the love of Jesus through the awesome people who have given their time, love, energy, money, and homes.
There are other students who have been struggling with doubt, fear, shame, or guilt. For those students, this weekend is like a stream of fresh water in the dry desert. They are thirsty for the love and grace of Jesus and will certainly receive that during the weekend. As they experience amazing worship and hear the Word of God, they will begin to feel God’s grace at work in their lives. They will meet Jesus, many of them for the first time, and be forever changed.
We’ll also have students who have been following Jesus for some time. They’ll have deep conversations with their peers that challenge them and call them to take a step of faith. Through the mission experience on Saturday, and after considering all they hear, they will feel called to take a step in faith to serve Jesus. Through their faith in Jesus, they will take a step out and go where Jesus leads. The word will never be the same because they’ll be following a call into it to share the Gospel.
Students aren’t the only ones who have amazing weekends. Host homes, college leaders, drivers, and just about anyone who takes part in making DNOW happen will be transformed. The Holy Spirit is at work in the hundreds of people who serve to love on students during DNOW. And when the Holy Spirit is involved, no one is left unchanged.
There are lots of great things to look forward to as we approach DNOW. Would you be willing to support these students as they prepare to meet with Jesus? We’re looking for host homes, drivers, food and gas card providers, and folks just to surround the students with love and prayer. We’re trusting that the students are going to meet with Jesus and that it’s going to be a life-changing time for each of them. We would love for you to be a part of making an eternal impact on the lives of students!
Prayer: Dear Lord, we’re so grateful to be a church that loves and cares for students. We ask that you would prepare each DNOW participant and volunteer to encounter Jesus and to move forward in their faith in Him. Amen.
Elley Fisk, Director of Student Ministry