For the past three years, I’ve been blessed to be part of a pretty cool organization called Impact 4 Youth. In fact, the organization exists solely because God placed a calling in my life to reach teens and young adults with the Gospel message. I’d like to say it’s been all roses and perfection, but I’d be lying. It has been an extreme exercise of faith.
We did our first conference in 2011, called CROSS Training. I had no idea what to expect as far as audience size was concerned. Would God bless us with 300, or three? We aimed high, and booked a venue that seated 400. On opening night, the production crew refused to look out from backstage before we began. We truly wanted to believe that the place would be packed. As I stepped out to begin the first session, I counted about 35. The initial reaction was of disappointment – I won’t lie. But, I figured God was up to something, so we produced the conference as if we had a crowd of 400. In the end, we reached a total of 50 people and didn’t come near to covering our costs for the conference.
But, as God would have it, one week before the CROSS Training conference, he called me to do another one the following year. It was so clear, he gave me all of the curriculum, sessions, and even inspiration for a promo video. I had to do some serious soul searching. Could I actually afford (both in faith and financially) to do another conference? Would another disappointment crush my faith, and destroy my finances? I prayed A LOT.
We decided to launch the Metamorphosis conference in 2012, purely on faith. The finances weren’t there, but we moved forward. We even booked the same 400 seat theater. As the time for the conference got closer, things didn’t look so good. Financially, we didn’t have the funds to pay for the total costs to produce the conference. Youth leaders continued to be non-committal about bringing their groups. Fear started to creep in on us. Could we take another hit like the previous year?
This time around, things just seemed different. On opening day, we had over 120 in attendance. They were excited to be there, and the Spirit was thriving among them, and us. The really cool part? There were several denominations present. We all came together to worship, putting aside our theological differences to praise God, learn about God’s gift of transformation, and renew our desire to reach the lost. Spiritually, it was AWESOME! Financially, we broke even. Faith won.
Coming May 17-18, 2013, we are launching our third conference, REVOLUTION. This has been my, and our, biggest leap of faith to-date. We had to change venues, book a new drama team, and I am writing books and curriculum to aid youth leaders inspiring their young adults and reaching those that don’t know Jesus. It’s the most ambitious undertaking that God has called us to initiate. The venue still seats 400, but costs twice as much. The drama team is amazing, but is flying half-way across the country to join us, adding costs. The burden to write content for the conference and then publish it before May 17, 2013 is a deadline looming over me. Our budget has grown, yet our finances have not. Pre-registration for the conference has not been encouraging. If this were a business, we’d be toast.
The past few months have been a huge struggle for me personally. Do I move forward and spend hundreds of hours preparing for a conference that won’t happen? Do I spend a few hundred hours more writing a book and curriculum that won’t be widely distributed? Where will the financing come from to pay all of the bills at the end of the day?
Again, I’ve prayed A LOT.
Something that I’ve learned along my journey in ministry, and due in large part to a study called Experiencing God, is that when God calls you to do something, it will lead you to a crisis of belief that will require faith and action. Essentially, God is asking you to do something crazy – trust that he will handle the details.
As I look back at the past three conferences, I can see that every time God lead me to the edge of a cliff – there was no safety net – and asked me to trust that I will not fall into the abyss below.
In the book of Hebrews, we see that this is the true definition of faith. Check out how Hebrews 11:1 puts it:
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
I choose to trust in my God, my Savior, my All. These past years, he has grown my faith immeasurably; not because of everything being made perfect, but because he has shown me over and over that he will provide. Even when things look dire, daunting, and impossible, God shows his strength, his greatness, his love. Isaiah 40:31 says:
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
We are moving forward with the REVOLUTION conference. It’s strictly by faith that we do so. It may sound crazy, and maybe I am a little, but it’s crisis time; and I’m exercising my faith that what God has set before me will happen.
Please join me in praying for the conference. If you have a youth group in Oregon, or SW Washington, we’d love to have you join us. If you feel God inspiring you to do so, please consider a gift to help cover conference expenses.