The name “Youth Encountering Christ” fits the weekend so well as many kids from all across New England, some who may have never have heard about the Gospel, got to encounter our Savior. Since 1981 the BCNE has put on this amazing weekend which has saved many and showed many youth the Gospel truth. This year, 50 congregations from five New England states, a total of more than 750 people, gathered at the Sturbridge Host Hotel in Sturbridge, MA. Throughout this weekend-long retreat many lives were changed for the better.
The theme this year was “We Believe.” Anthony Knight from Journey Church in Mt. Juliet, TN, walked us through one of the most powerful verses in the Bible: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
To many, this verse has been repeated so much that it can lose its impactful message. Anthony unpacked what it means to change our identity as the desires of our flesh begin to take over. Anthony gave multiple relatable illustrations in order to show how we are to focus on eternity rather than temporary moments in our lives in order to turn from the many temptations that cross our paths.
“If my sins put Jesus on the cross then why would I run back to them?” he said. As I sat back in my chair this quote really hit hard and resonated with me and many of the youth sitting around me.
Students were led in breakout sessions throughout Saturday as many of the staff shared testimonies, with a few games mixed in to keep everyone moving. During the weekend sixth- and seventh-grade students assembled gift packets for the 140 members of the hotel staff, and eighth graders assisted with a project related to the Annie Armstrong Offering for the BCNE. Ninth graders wrote notes of gratitude to retired service members which were sent along with a restaurant gift card.
Quest was also a huge part of the weekend for students. Quest is the BCNE’s leadership development experience for high school juniors. These students met for the first time at CrossWalk last summer and were commissioned during Saturday’s evening worship. The Quest 20 team is comprised of 31 students from 18 congregations. The three teams will travel to the Dominican Republic, Scotland, and Hawaii, February 13-23. An offering of $5600 was collected for Quest and other youth ministries.
Lives were changed forever through this weekend as we saw many stand for the first time professing their faith. Many began new lifestyles as Anthony showed us how he had changed his life when he was a youth by turning from many of the temptations us high schoolers struggle with. God’s presence was felt deeply this weekend as we began focusing on eternity rather than the temporary because of the grace our Savior gives us.
Brennan Cook is a high school junior and a member of Quest 20. He attends Hope Fellowship in Cambridge, MA.