Two of the luxuries of having DNOWs with churches we are familiar with are as follows: we have already formed relationships with the students, and we get to see them progress over the years. Our energy isn’t spent so much on forming relationships as it is on building on top of them. But in the case of this past weekend, with a new church and an unknown youth group, we threw all our passion into quickly forming Christ-like friendships.
It’s actually quite strange that we haven’t worked with Sand Springs Baptist Church before this weekend. Only a couple minutes down the road from Focus Pointe Base Camp, their church is nestled comfortably within the community Glowing Heart has been reaching out to for years. And after the friend requests I received from the students on Facebook, I quickly noticed that they had mutual friends with people that are involved with either PaceSetters or other DNOWs. Sand Springs was hiding in plain sight, but now we know them.
Friday afternoon, the van pulled up to Focus Pointe, and students poured out, standing a little awkwardly to the side. So that’s when we stepped in. Instantly, GH members were greeting the students, learning names, and making connections that would become the foundations for further conversations in sessions and free time. I can’t speak for the girls, but for the guys we were already onto favorite Marvel movies and talking about Christian rap. Within a few minutes, the atmosphere felt comfortable, loving, and united in a way that only the Holy Spirit provides among fellow believers.
The weekend ended up being one of the best “first DNOWs” Glowing Heart has had, and there are a few reasons why.
- It was Disciple-NOW, not Salvation-NOW. Don’t get me wrong, we love to see people come to a saving faith in Christ at DNOW weekends, and it’s one of the greatest fruits of our labors. Sometimes I will come to a youth group and think, “These students just need Jesus!” But the students this past weekend do have Jesus. They just need discipleship. It is just as important to see ten students grow deeper in their faith as it is to see twenty students come to faith. The call to sanctification is just as important as the call to regeneration. This was the only DNOW I can remember where there were no professions of faith the entire weekend, but I wasn’t worried, because in a way the weekend was more like: “I have faith, now what?” And Glowing Heart had the blessing of being able to show what faith does.
- It was family. Sometimes GH has to break down some walls within a group to be able to do any lasting work. But this weekend felt more like a family reunion where you meet cousins you didn’t know you had. It was a sweet surprise and a warming of the heart to be with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It was a smooth weekend mainly because we were found under the banner of Christ. The Gospel does many things, but one thing I have seen over and over again with Glowing Heart, and especially at this DNOW, was how the Gospel unites.
Our DNOW material this year is focused on preparing for battle against the Enemy, Satan and his minions, and encouraging the students to stand firm because the war has been won. In the end, Sand Springs DNOW was a military training camp in preparation for battle, instead of a plea for those to join the army. I met many new comrades in the Lord’s army, and I can’t wait to see them again.