I was in seventh grade the first time I attended a Youth Encounter sponsored Youth Quake in Omaha, Nebraska. I attended several more events in my youth with confirmation and then in high school. I remember being embarrassed as my mother chaperoned and sat in on breakout sessions, singing loudly (and often badly) with the Captive Free teams and event bands, and inviting musicians and speakers to meals.
I remember loving every minute of it and thinking that maybe, one day, I would on Captive Free.
Can I tell you that I’m finally there and it’s the most surreal feeling in the world?
East Lakes had their first QuakeZone in Cincinnati, Ohio January 9th through the 11th. The weekend was everything from exhausting to emotional to amazing. It was everything I had dreamt and completely different at the exact same time. When the countdown started to open the event for the Celebration and our team took the stage, I was almost terrified. What was I going to say up there? Did I remember to turn the keyboard on? What in the world are the opening chords to You Are Good?
I realized that over 300 people would be watching us jam out and praise God. I remembered thinking about how amazing and inspiring Captive Free was to me at 13 years old. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed and terrified because these kids might look at my team the same way. The pressure was on. Not to be great, perfect, or cool enough, but to get the heck out of the way and let them see the power of God’s love.
I had the honor of leading breakout sessions and worship, attending family time with a great church from Beavercreek, Ohio and dinner with an amazing youth group from Wapakoneta, Ohio, and reconnecting with youth we’ve stayed with and met at prior bookings. It was amazing to watch God work through the event band (Echelon) and speaker (Brian Wallace), to get to know them and spend time growing in faith through the things they say and do as well.
The moral of the story: our first event may have been exhausting, but I am so blessed and grateful to serve God on team this year. I am so grateful for East Lakes, a team who worked so hard this weekend and I see the light of Christ in each of them. I am on Captive Free, serving at YE Events, and it is breathtaking to think just how God is using me this year.