It’s Wednesday afternoon. We’ve just finished lunch–some in the REC Center and some in the tent–and made our way through the rain into the afternoon’s activities. An article on the rain’s effect on community service projects appeared in yesterday’s LaCrosse Tribune newspaper.
This morning’s main session featured Shawn McBride, an energetic speaker from the Washington DC area who ended his talk on being salt and light by waving a huge lightbulb and having the 2,300 teens sing “This Little Light of Mine.”
We’re posting articles and photos on each day of the youth conference on the BNYC website at www.bnyc.net. Dick Coldren, Phil Bryant, Viki Rife and I are taking most of the photos, and we have some students who have been submitting articles for posting on the website, as well. Tonight I will be teaching the second of two sessions on how to use your writing and communication skills to advance the ministry of the local church, and we will also be presenting a career in journalism as a viable way to serve the Lord.
The Brethren National Youth Conference is an incredibly complex function, with multiple layers of activity and purpose going all the time. A host of volunteers are making it run, and are doing an amazing job.
In this morning’s staff meeting Francis Chan challenged us to think about the difference between character and reputation–both for us and for the teens. Reputation, he pointed out, is what people think of you. But character is what you REALLY are and, consequently, is what God thinks of you.
So he challened us to be authentic, and to focus more on building character than reputations. He complimented the Grace Brethren young people as being orderly and cooperative–but also warned that just “obeying the rules” is not necessarily a sign of strong character. It was a thought-provoking and well-timed challenge.
I will finish my BNYC duties tonight at about 1 a.m., although the conference will continue for another day. But in order to get to the Grace Brethren Celebration conference in Kingsport, Tennessee, which begins Friday, we will have to make tracks quickly and will leave LaCrosse about 5:30 a.m. on Thursday.
There is a high level of cooperation and interaction here among the Grace Brethren national organizations — Grace Brethren International Missions has made a particularly heavy commitment to personnel and assisting in the program.
Finals of the NAC competition and quizzing are coming up this afternoon and tomorrow. We’re off to take photographs. Everyone here thanks the many churches, parents, pastors and friends who are praying and keeping an eye on all that is happening at BNYC. God is raising up a generation of leadership that show extraordinary talent and dedication, and that is encouraging to see so many “good teens” using their gifts for God.