This week the Greater Louisiana Baptist Convention (GLBC) convened on the campus of Grambling State University for the dual purpose of their 4th Annual Session and 2nd Annual Youth Empowerment Retreat.  

Opening Worship
image source: facebook.com/GLBCYPD
With a group of ~50 from my church, I was scheduled to teach Baptist Doctrine to adults in the Congress, while my children participated in the youth activities.  
Part of the New Hope Baptist Church delegation
My class was canceled so I spent the week with the children and I’ve never experienced anything like this.  Hundreds of children worshiping, learning, serving, sharing and having good fun – it was beautiful to see.

There were 2 groups: Camp MVP, (for children up to age 11), and Youth Empowerment for age 12 and up. Following the theme “Fanning the Flames”, this was a week of full, fruitful and fun days. The youth started at 6 am with prayer, after breakfast they worshiped at 8 am. Then began a moving schedule of classes, community service, clinics, panel discussions, recreation, 7  pm worship and late night practice for the older youth until 11 pm in preparation for the closing service.

It was such a spiritually guided, well rounded experience for the children. 

First and foremost, the youth studied the Word and explored how it applies in their lives.  They tackled a wide variety of topics including knowing your worth, assurance in your salvation, living on purpose, witnessing, temptation, decision making, consequences, the pros cons and permanence of social media, bullying, suicide, curiosity, homosexuality etc.  On Tuesday, I along with Sister Renita Sherrard from our church, led a class entitled “Single, Saved…Sexually Active?” to girls ages 15-17. 

The youth pulled no punches.  They shared their views and candid questions on issues that impact their lives.  All the preachers and instructors were transparent, real and relatable in sharing God’s Word, and their experiences. The Holy Spirit had His way.

The youth served the community.  Every day the children broke off into small groups and left Grambling’s campus to make an impact in the community.  Activities ranged from Habitat for Humanity service, cleaning up neighborhoods, sharing with seniors at a local nursing home and ministering to troubled youth at a children’s shelter.  They experienced that love is an action word, the beauty and blessing of serving others and that faith without works is dead.

The youth worshiped.  My oh my did they worship! It was awesome to see children not observing or just sitting thru worship – but all wrapped up in praise and worship.  I don’t have words to explain.

image source: facebook.com/GLBCYPD
The youth got a taste of the college experience. Dorm living, the cafeteria, walking campus from class to class and social time on the quad.  

They had a ball and via tours and interactions with staff learned a bit about historic Grambling State University. 

Everyone was so kind. Two standouts were Ms Marilyn in the cafeteria and Assistant Girls Basketball Coach Brittanie Taylor-James. They were both so open and took time to pour into our little girls.  Coach Taylor-James even came to worship with us and see the young people minister in the closing program. 

The youth explored their talents/gifts.  Every child had the opportunity to choose a clinic – choir, drama, liturgical dance or mime.  The children spent a few hours Monday – Wednesday practicing songs/routines in preparation to minister in the closing program on Thursday.  It was amazing to see what they were able to learn in that short period of time.
Camp MVP Choir 
Youth Empowerment Choir
image source: facebook.com/GLBCYPD

Angels of Hope Dance Ministry

Ministering via liturgical dance
Image source: facebook.com/GLBCYPD

Mime ministry
Image source: facebook.com/GLBCYPD

Camp MVP Drama ministering the Fruit of the Spirit
image source:facebook.com/GLBCYPD
Drama minstry
Image source: facebook.com/GLBCYPD

The youth bonded, sharing extended time with members of their home church.

They also met and socialized with brothers and sisters from other churches across the state. The kids has some good fun…and the adults did too. (I learned 3 new line dances –broke a sandal in the process).

I thank God for this opportunity.

I thank God for the vision, direction and gifts of Pastor Sam Lofton, GLBC’s youth director and pastor of education and youth at Good Hope Baptist Church in Lafayette, LA.  This man of God can preach, teach and reach young people!  His gifts extend into leadership and administration as he attracts and engages others who are equipped to work with youth.
Rev Sam Lofton
I thank God for Dr Doretha Johnson, co-director, who just gets things done (smile) and was instrumental in getting us there. 

I thank God for Sister Brenda Smith – who led the MVP activities with the younger children. She too is anointed for work with children and it is clear she loves those littles ones and the team more than “hot apple pie with Homemade Blue Bell” – her words (smile). 

Sister Brenda Smith
All the preachers, teachers, chaperons, security… everyone was on point and worked together so well. It was a beautiful example of the body of Christ coming together and using their individual gifts for a single work.

I know my children enjoyed and more importantly were helped by this encampment.  It was an exhausting week…

On the road home.
…yet I left so refreshed and encouraged.  

Many years ago, I taught 11-13 year olds and stopped because I was overwhelmed, discouraged, and disappointed by the apathy and downright cutting up of the children and sadly too many parents.  We live in evil days and while there is nothing new under the sun, the variety and intensity of temptations and challenges young people face today is daunting and different than just a few decades ago. The lines of right and wrong have been muddied. There is a loss of respect (of elders and themselves) and so many youth don’t know who to trust and therefore end up putting their trust and hope in the wrong people/things. 

God reminded me this week that is always hope and help.  Thank God for the remnant.  There are young people who seek His face and are trying to let His light shine to direct their path and guide others.  There are adults who know the Word and care enough to step beyond the boundaries of tradition and the trap of ‘how things were when we were young’ – to see things as our youth see them.  They devote the time and energy to meet the children where they are and show them God’s way.

Challenges are great, but there’s an army rising up.  A change is coming!

Wordpress Social Share Plugin powered by Ultimatelysocial