A testimonial on the 2016 Youth Rally
“WORD.” That was the theme of this year’s Youth Rally in Ocean City Md. My youth group, along with many others, spent the weekend learning about what God tells us in his Word, and how he reveals his great plans for us through the Bible.
We heard an amazing preacher, Reggie Dabbs, along with other speakers in the breakout sessions. And we got to listen to a variety of music from rapper/spoken-word artist Propaganda, rock band Disciple, and Moriah Peters and her Fierce Female Band. Fellowship Creative led us in some fantastic worship for the weekend, and we closed with Communion from Bishop Peggy Johnson on Sunday.
I think where I may have learned the most, however, was in the opportunity to preach in front of about 4,000 students and adult leaders on Sunday morning.
Last year, I discovered from the brochure that there would be a preaching competition (“Spittin’ da Word”) at the rally. Since I had preached once or twice for my youth group, I decided to give it a go. I managed to write a decent sermon and auditioned it at the rally. It wasn’t the best-written sermon, which is why I wasn’t able to win the competition.
However, I walked away with some really strong advice from some great judges who encouraged me to try again this year. As soon as I saw that the competition would happen again at this year’s rally, I decided to sign up.
I started thinking about my sermon, but I didn’t get it finished until a couple days before the rally. I had so much trouble finding the right parts of the scripture given to me, but I finally pulled together a sermon that I thought was probably what at least one person might need to hear. Actually, it was what I needed to hear myself.
As I waited to audition, I started to feel nauseous and thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I went into the audition room and presented the sermon I had written with all my heart and soul (and God’s help). About 20 hours later, I was backstage getting ready to preach it in front of everyone there.
I didn’t know how I would be able to do it. There were so many faces in the crowd that I didn’t know. What if I suddenly blanked when I got on stage? But God helped me, through the prayers of those who were with me backstage; and once I got up there, I breezed through with little fear.
From this experience, I have felt the phrase, “God doesn’t call the equipped…he equips the called,” come to life. Something I didn’t think I would be able to do, something I didn’t think I could ever achieve, I managed to do with God’s help. The advice given to me by judges the previous year and the guidance of pastors at my church equipped me to do something that I think I may be called to do.
I thought in the past that preaching may have been something I was called to do, and in this experience, God may have confirmed my call. I never felt before that I had what I needed to be able to preach effectively. But after this experience, many told me I needed to continue preaching. I know God will give me the skills I need to do whatever work he has planned for me.
So I’ll keep preaching, and I’ll keep listening to what God is telling me, because he’ll tell me what I need to know to fulfill the plans he describes in his Word.
Grace Puy, of Hopewell UMC
winner of the 2016 “Spittin’ da Word” contest