By John W. Coleman
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. —Isaiah 60:1
There’s a lot happening in our area this Saturday, April 22, but no doubt, nothing will offer young people more fun in the sun, along with engaging fellowship and faith formation, than the third annual Eastern PA Conference Youth Rally. It will happen all day, mostly in the outdoor amphitheater of Hopewell UMC (852 Hopewell Road, Downingtown, PA) from 10 AM to 4 PM. Lunch will be provided
The long-awaited affair, after onsite registration at 9 AM, will blast off with exhilarating games like Gaga and 9-Square, and then feature loud worship music performed by “Christian pop-rock” youth band Boundaries, all of which should ensure that everyone is wide awake.
High-schoolers Jablaze Roman, Stephen Awurumibe and Watson Maack make up Boundaries, which formed in October 2015 and has songs on I-tunes and an album titled “Hope Will Find You.” The trio of music lovers, now with an enthusiastic following, connected in high school and church as 16-year-old friends. Two members attend and play music at West Lawn UMC.
“We pray for God to help us with our music,” Stephen said. “I feel that God will use our message to draw people closer to us, and to him….We want our music to show that we are real Christians.”
Watson said he was immediately drawn to the music program at church. “I got to West Lawn and found out there was music other than organs in church,” he said. “That was cool.” Each of them expects that music and religion will remain part of their lives after they graduate from high school.
What they want their music to convey most is hope, said Watson. “I realize that people struggle with issues like family problems and addiction, but through it all, it can be that they’ll find hope, or hope will find them,” he said. “That’s what we want people to know.”
These comments are from Reading Eagle correspondent Susan Shelly’s July 2016 article, “Christian rockers from Wilson High School want to let others in on their faith.” Read more about the band.
The rally will also feature music by Valley Forge-area Christian band The Art Of and music mixed with comedy performed by the zany Philadelphia duo Dave and Brian, who delighted youth at the Peninsula-Delaware Youth Rally in Ocean City, Md., in January.
But there will be much serious soul-talk, too, from several compelling speakers. A member of Dawn’s Place, a Philadelphia refuge and place of care for former victims of sex and slavery trafficking, will engage the gathering in discussion about human trafficking. She will share their important work and the troubled lives they help save and change. They provide housing, trauma care, vocational training and other services, as well as community education to encourage prevention and public policy reform.
The women at Dawn’s Place come from difficult backgrounds that include incarceration, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, physical, emotional and sexual abuse as children and adults, and separation from family and country of origin. The therapy and other services help them recover after escaping dangerous lives of exploitation and slavery.
NOTE: If you, or someone you know, needs assistance contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call the toll free, confidential hotline (available 24/7) for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1 888 3737 888.
The youth, who may number above last year’s 500, will also hear a little from Dave Piltz, Conference Coordinator of Young People’s Ministries, and a lot from Conference Council of Youth Ministry leaders, who will unpack the rally’s theme of spiritual reveille.
In addition, young Jose Tirado (left), of Cristo Rey UMC, will talk about “How to Find God.” And Jess Eden (right), who competed in the January Pen-Del Youth Rally’s Spittin’ da Word preaching contest, will share a bit of her sermonic insights and inspiration. Eden, a member of Fallsington UMC, was recently elected to chair the Northeastern Jurisdiction Council on Youth Ministry.
Finally, there will be, as always, a creative time and means for youth to express their solemn commitment to serve God and follow Christ. The culmination of this exciting full-day rally should move many youth—and perhaps some adults—from merely saying “Wake Up!” to becoming, truly “Woke!”