At least one person listened to Jeff Carter’s sermon. I can guarantee it.
The dining hall was impossibly crowded, with folks squeezed cheek by jowl in every available corner. There were long lines at every food station except the port of call for omelets. Obviously, many didn’t know they were there, so I was able to swoop in and breeze out with something like lunch--but without a drink, napkin, or proper cutlery. However, there are times a soup spoon may serve as a fork, and this was one of them.
I could not find an empty seat anywhere in the dining hall, so I headed outside and found an empty outdoor picnic table where I could eat quickly. I planned to grab a drink on my way out, and get back to my computer.
I had taken two bites when a young man sat himself down beside me and asked how I was doing. His name is Clayton. He is from Virginia. He likes video games, plays tennis, and had come to National Youth Conference on what was his first-ever flight on an airplane. NYC worship was a lot of fun, he said, and a lot more “interactive” than at his home church.
It took me about two seconds to realize what was going on. The previous evening, Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter had challenged everyone to do three things to build community at this National Youth Conference:
Eat. And while you’re at it, make sure no one eats alone. If you see someone sitting by themselves, go over and sit down with them.
Pray. Advisors should pray for each youth in their group, by name.
Love. “You have a few days to transform this arena and this campus into an incredible place,” Carter said. “It’s within you.”
So we talked, as we ate together. We talked about the different places we have lived, and our interests. He had questions about what it means to be Hispanic (which I am). We wondered how many states each of us had flown over to get here. I had meant to eat and run, but there was no question of that now.
Later, on the way out, I stopped Jeff and let him know that at least one person listened to his message and was ready to live it. That’s what NYC does. It creates church.
-- Frank Ramirez contributed this report.
The NYC 2018 Press Team includes Laura Brown, Allie Dulabaum, Mary Dulabaum, Nevin Dulabaum, Eddie Edmonds, Russ Otto, Frank Ramirez, Alane Riegel, Glenn Riegel, and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.