Well, the trip to Gatlinburg is now history. Our group even arrived in Delaware approximately 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Some highlights of the last day were:
— The Prize – P314, This year’s theme was based on Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Already; Not Yet!)
— Jeff Walling did an exceptionally good job connecting the various parts of the program so that the drama, the special music, the worship times, and preaching flowed seamlessly. Few people I know are more capable of “connecting” to such a broad range of people so effectively. During our return trip one of our teenagers said, “That Jeff guy sure is funny!” For a middle-aged, balding guy, this is quite an accomplishment. I know this to be true from firsthand experience.
— Unbound – As usual, Oklahoma Christian University’s acting group did an extraordinary job with the dramatization of the message. Unless it is well done, I often find drama more of a distraction than enhancement. In the case of Unbound at Winterfest, it went flawlessly.
— Astronaut Roger Crouch shared the story of his long journey (spanning several decades) to become an astronaut. His down-to-earth qualities and gentle humor made him a hit with the young people. His message of perseverance and character was suitable for all generations.
— Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Mike Marsh also spoke about perseverance. In addition he brought home the importance of personal integrity. Following a successful college track career, he was advised by his coach that he had no chance of cutting it in the Olympics unless he resorted to performance enhancing drugs. His response to this was to get a different coach. Subsequently, he won two gold medals and a silver medal in the Olympics. Like that of Roger Crouch, Marsh’s message of living his Christian commitment and character resonated with the young people.
— Honduras contribution… The young people, some 12,000 in total, gathered from the four winds to demonstrate not only the commitment to Christ, but, also, their willingness to give of themselves and their means. More than $20,000 was collected for mission projects in Honduras slated for this summer. Young and old alike will travel to Honduras to conduct Vacation Bible Schools, build homes, schools, churches and other useful structures.
— Our worship experience on Sunday morning was the nothing short of magnificent! Our hearts were stirred by a message that prompted us to realize and remember the breadth and depth of the love of Christ. Following this we shared in partaking of the Lord’s Supper. We were then challenged to go and be Jesus in the part of the world to which we were returning. And, of course, return next year, unless the Lord returns to take us home first.
Blessings to all,