This week kicked off a life changing event for around four thousand teens and their youth leaders in Columbus, Ohio. It is called Challenge, a national youth event put on by the EFCA church denomination every two years. Imagine a conference/concert/mission trip/team building event packed into one week and you have a glimpse of Challenge. I went to something similar in high school, called Life. Life was a yearly event brought by the Christian Missionary Alliance denomination. These events are intended to be more than just a big youth party, a frenzy of speakers and stuff – they are intended and purposed to be life changing moments for those in attendance.
Imagine that life goes along and then something pivotal happens. You can choose to what angle it will move you, to a large or small degree, but you are in a moment where movement can occur. And not just any movement, but big movement, this is the moment that all of those who have worked so hard in speaking and performing and preparing are really striving toward.
Saturday, they are heading home. Packed into buses, vans, airplanes, and cars, all of those who spilled into the city to partake of this time are now leaving. As the group I know moves back across the US in the vans, I have been thinking about their prayer requests and about how they will have a life change.
A substance used to exist, for the most terrible of battlefield tools, Greek fire. Greek fire was a chemical reaction; put a series of materials together, mix, add air, throw it onto something and it would catch into a brilliant flame of searing heat. It was not put out with water, but burned until it was out of fuel. As the teens and leaders come back, they will have a new life and enthusiasm with them. How could you not with that kind of environment? For a whole week, speakers, helpers, and leaders have poured themselves into you, with the express purpose of loving you as God loves you.
The return home is the time when you start finding out if the fire within you is a regular fire or Greek fire. You start facing daily challenges, must now decide to put changes into practice, deal with adversity, face disappointments and frustrations, and experience life. Along the way, there are buckets of water and various other substances that are thrown onto your fire. Other methods are tried to put you back as you were. Don’t be fearful of running out fuel for the fire, God is the ultimate provider and is the creator of all. The fuel will not be removed, though it certainly may change over time.
I am so looking forward to hearing the stories of this week. I want to hear about the songs and stories, the hotel and city, the unexpected and delighted. But even more, I am looking forward to hearing the stories in five or fifteen or twenty five years. I want to hear stories of what the changes were in a life from pivotal change, what kind of fire was lit, and how life was altered, altered forever.