Originally posted January 31, 2012
It’s an odd sensation to look up to someone younger. Most of the time, we look to generations that have gone before us for guidance, wisdom, motivation and encouragement. But sometimes, a glimpse of the future can be even more inspiring.
Last weekend, Breaking Chains had the opportunity to attend Winterfest Arlington, an annual, 3200-person Christian youth conference in Texas. While there, we had a booth at the back to promote the ministry and sell some small items to raise funds. Our time was spent reconnecting with youth we had met previously through trips to Honduras, as well as meeting new teens and adults and telling them our story for the first time.
We were privileged to have many conversations with teens last weekend who want to do something different with their lives. Some are already volunteering through homeless shelters and inner city ministries, or traveling abroad to serve God’s people during short breaks in their school schedules, or devoting themselves to prayer and saving funds to support missions they care deeply about. They are teens who aren’t satisfied living for the next day of high school, but see life’s bigger picture.
One such teen is Elijah Weaver. We know Elijah personally from his trip to Honduras with the awesome youth group from Oakcrest Church of Christ, but we also know that he and other teens from the church spend time at a local urban ministry in Oklahoma City. Breaking Chains was blessed to receive the Sunday morning contribution this year at Winterfest (thanks again to all who helps us raise $11,500!). To intro the contribution, Elijah used his creativity to channel his experience in Honduras through an on-stage spoken word poem. It was such a cool thing to hear the passion we have for the ministry coming through the words of a high schooler. Just one example of someone using God-given abilities to inspire others – including us. (Hopefully we will have a video of the poem to post soon).
Another story is a group of teens and adults from Ft. Smith, Arkansas who came down to work with Breaking Chains last spring break. Since the trip, they have taken their passion for the needy and fostered it by starting a Laundry Love site in their own city. Now, once per month, they meet at a laundromat and serve the homeless and low-income population in their area by doing laundry free of charge and sharing in fellowship. What an awesome and encouraging idea! (They are always looking for financial donations to maintain the ministry, so if you are interested in giving to projects within the U.S., we suggest talking with them).
Those are just two of countless examples. We went to Winterfest to tell others the story of our ministry, but left being just as inspired by the stories of the attendees. There is something about seeing 3200 people pour out their hearts to God through worship that makes you feel hopeful; That God is continuing to work through the generations, and that even though things in our world can seem rough, a fire is brewing in such a unique and radical way among some teens that you just sit on the edge of your seat, and wait for the gust of wind to start the show. It’s a “one body, many parts” philosophy – and we are so thankful to see how the other, younger parts are moving in big ways.
We are looking forward to being a part of Winterfest: Round 2 in Gatlinburg this Feb. 17 to 19! Hope to see some of you there and hear your stories!