It was so, so good to be back at the Barn last night with our Young Life friends. We were away for Labor Day last week and two weeks is entirely too long. I was thrilled to see so many friends in the gym when I walked down from Leadership upstairs. I love seeing clumps of different kids and leaders all over the place-- hugging, shooting basketballs, catching up. It is good.
In 2 Corinthians it says, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here." Those verses are the foundation of our life stories as Christians. God changes our hearts, working from the inside out, and you can see proof of that in people's lives. I still remember the first time I watched Cardboard Testimonies at a YL Camp called Castaway in Minnesota. I was incredibly struck by people's honesty, vulnerability and rawness. I was already a believer, but I was still moved by the evidence of God's work in their lives.
Since that experience at Castaway, I've experienced Cardboard Testimonies several more times. I've presented mine with counselors at Tecumseh and done the activity as a devotion during CILTs. I've seen leaders share at Sharp Top both summers I've gone with Young Life. Every time God's sovereignty, grace and truth is written all over people's stories. The idea is that you write the story of your life before Christ on one side of the cardboard and your story of how God has worked in your life on the other side.
After singing together, we spread out all over the Barn to write Cardboard Testimonies with our kids. We know most of these kids really well, we've been walking through life together for anywhere from a couple months to a couple years. We got to help some of them articulate what their life story might say on this piece of cardboard. I'm so thankful for the relationships that are so strong between leaders and kids. These friendships are so different than the ones they might have with their parents, coaches, teachers or friends. We get this in-between role that's really beautiful when Christ shines through each of us.
I loved walking around and visiting all the different groups as they were finishing up. Everyone was curious about each other's stories.
When we were all ready we circled up in one giant ring. Ryan played "Oh How He Loves Us" on guitar as each person took a turn. They stepped forward holding up the first side for everyone to read. Then they flipped it over and showed the whole group. It took about 15 minutes and everyone was silent. Getting this many HS kids to be silent for that long is near impossible. But this was real. This was truth. This was brave. They didn't want to miss it.
Some of these kids are going to share their Cardboard Testimonies at our YL Banquet this weekend. I'm so excited for parents and adults in Fishers to see them. I wish I could share all of their stories with you. There is no doubt that God is alive and at work in people's lives all around us. These stories are all the proof that I need.