Just Back from MAD 9! For those of you out of the PCI loop (like me until i started this job!), the MAD weekend is a youth weekend for 11-17's run by the PCI Youth and Children's Dept and this was the 9th year of it. The weekend is held at University of Ulster, Coleraine and the 800 young people that go each year sleep in local church halls. This was my first MAD experience and we decided to take our Fusion age (11-14) to it. 19 of us went including leaders and it was an excellent weekend all round - the young people had a ball! It was great fun for them and on top of that i believe they all experienced God and got to know Him a bit better.
I was so encouraged over the weekend to see our young people really engage with the God stuff. Andy Flannagan was leading the worship and did a fantastic job in getting the young people excited about worshiping God. It was loud and high energy and our guys loved it! Mark Oestricher from Youth Specialties was the speaker and he was excellent. With our guys being very young i wasn't expecting them to enjoy the talks too much but they loved Marko because he was dynamic, funny, had good stories, had a simple message and he never spoke for longer than 20 mins. The theme for the weekend was 'One Life' and all of our young people were challenged in some way about their relationship with God and making the most of their lives.
Our young people really amazed me over the weekend! I think because i had no interest in God until i was 17, i have little expectations of their interest in God or faith until they get a little older. God really challenged me about this over MAD 9 and not just because the young people loved the worship and teaching. On the Friday night as i was getting ready for bed (at 2.30am might i add!), one of our youngest guys was using his mobile phone as a torch to read his Bible! Speaking to him the next day i found out he tries to do this most days, usually in the mornings! Also, at the very end myself and the other male leaders got all our boys together to have a time of prayer. Again, i wouldn't have been surprised if none of them had prayed but every single one of them prayed, and they prayed really personal prayers to their personal God - it was awesome!
One of my favourite verses is 1 Tim 4:12 as it informs us to 'set an example in speech, life, love, faith and purity'. I've been reminded this weekend by my own young people that there is a first half to this verse too:
12 Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.