We have not had a connection to the internet since Thursday. My intentions were to post this then, but something is wrong with our modem, it looks like we'll need a new one.
I don't have time right now to upload pictures, I'll try to do some later.
Here is what I was going to post...
It is hard to put into words the experience we just had with the youth. Originally, I started this game last year because some of the youth were growing “tired” of bible study after bible study. Some even quit going to church and never really made it a priority. Last year was a fun successful time of bringing back in the tired ones. This year, we did it again because of the fun we had last year and I added a few more things so it would be a great learning experience for everyone. Our primary goal was outreach; we wanted to reach out to more youth in the area, include the new students coming into Jr. High, and involve the fringe youth. I was so pleased on how this year turned out. We had 14 adults helping out with details and serving the youth. The team leaders (students) had more exposure as leaders and more freedom to lead their teams. This was our secondary purpose…to give the student leaders experience in leading groups. It was great! They ALL did a great job and we gave them certificates of appreciation at the end. It was also great to see some of the students who weren’t designated leaders step up and be great encouragers and strengthen their teammates when times were rough. This brought together the students; they made friends and they learned how to work together. Each week we gave a devotional from Philippians and encouraged them to apply the devotionals to the challenges of that week. The team leaders had time to spend with their team talking about the devotions and encouraging their team.
One of the neatest things that we saw was the development of leadership in the student leaders. They all stepped up to the plate. One of them, Julio, came out of his shell. He was a quiet shy guy until now. His desire is to become a youth pastor and let me tell you that after watching him during THE CHALLENGE, he definitely has what it takes. He lead his team and they followed him, he was goofy and everyone liked it, he corrected them and they listened, and he was a ham in the skit his team put together about Adam and Eve. What an amazing young man!
Another leader, Chuy (Julio’s older brother), is a natural leader. People follow him and he has a calm, mature way about working with people. One thing that stood out was that he came in late to take over for a different leader who wasn’t able to continue. The team was in last place the whole month (by a long ways, too) and when Chuy arrived, he kept the team alive and he was committed to them. He gave up watching one of the biggest soccer games of the year to be at the final meeting . That to most of us may not seem like a hard thing to do, but to him it was an “Abraham sacrificing Isaac” experience. Some of us may even be able to relate this to giving up watching the Super Bowl. He is a soccer fanatic, this was BIG! He showed a tremendous amount of maturity and commitment to his team and the program as a whole. WOW!
Another leader, Martin, has just come back from one year of Bible College and is a changed person. He was one of the most encouraging students playing the game. His team started a little weak, but by the end because of his leadership, his team won the game. He also brought in about 5 young guys from Arrayanes where it has been really hard to reach out to the youth. They all finished pretty excited and we took them to the beach yesterday for their prize. My prayer is that this will encourage those young guys to keep coming and be exposed more and more to the gospel to finally make a decision to serve Christ some day.
Finally, Lupita was the only female student leader we had. She did a phenomenal job taking on “the challenge” of being a leader. When I offered the position before we started the game to anyone who would come and talk to me about leading a team, she was there right away wanting to do it. I could see it in her face that she was ready! Her team was on top most of the time, but in the end they came up just short of winning the whole thing. She did a great job!
The events of the final evening consisted of a time of Praise songs, a short message about how God is the Potter and we are the clay and that He molds us through the “challenges” we face every day. Then each team presented a skit with the theme of their team name. While we were counting up all the points, Jay showed a video of THE CHALLENGE he put together special for that night. You can watch the video by clicking here. For the FINAL CHALLENGE we put together a Who Wants to be a Millionaire style game. They were to answer questions that started out easy, then got harder and harder about the Sunday sermons, different challenges they had, and a few other things that they learned in the past month. This gave the last place team an opportunity to catch up and actually win it. In the end, it had no bearing on who won; all the teams stayed in their same place and were unable to answer enough questions to pass another team.
It was a lot of work and we invested a lot of time and money into this outreach. It was a HUGE success. Thank you all for praying for and supporting this event. This has become a great tradition and they already can’t wait until we do it again…even some of the staff.