I snuck in to Newday! The lovely Phil Gray organised a badge for me which was waiting at the gate. Sad to say, I whimped out of actually camping. My friend Carol Bailey had kindly offered her pop up tent, and it was either that or a room at the Premier Inn over the road. I thought about it long and hard….all of 20 seconds, and well, you know, a bed, a shower, an electric kettle…not much of a contest really.
I delivered the box of food which had got left behind at Kingston to the church site, glad that our kids would not miss out on the green Thai curry specially cooked for them….and helped them eat it. They were all happily organised in their tents and although I am about a century older than them they made me feel very welcome and involved.
As evening approached, I found it moving to see thousands of young people streaming toward the Big Top, excited and eager to begin praising God together. They poured in, 7,000 of them, and as Simon Brading began to lead them into worship, the sound swelled rapturously as they clapped, danced and stamped. Lights blazed and drums boomed as guitars and keyboards played the melodies of Simon’s new songs.
I also appreciated that older songs were in the mix, and there were some very poignant moments, especially after Stef Liston preached a profound and wonderful sermon on Simon Peter on the second night. (Get it on podcast, simply entitled ‘Fish’). We were led into “I love you Lord, and I lift my voice..”, and a hushed stillness prevailed over the huge tent as some knelt or lay on the floor or stood with arms raised in worship. That night, no one was in a hurry to go back to nightcaps of hot chocolate and cake; the presence of God took over.
Highlights for me were Joel’s series on Jonah with the older teens in the mornings; meeting up with loads of old friends who had come simply to serve the youngsters; watching my grandchildren absorbed in worship; chatting with our Kingston church group over lunch.
I kept bumping into people whom I have known as babies and children but who are now all grown up! And yes, many were the blunders I made, simply because they now look so different. I mean, when you last saw a kid of 13 who is now a giant with a bushy black beard, is it so surprising that you wonder who he is? Or a stunning blonde young lady who simply called herself Vicky….I remember her and her twin when they were 5years old, waking me up at 5.30am to play snap. Please forgive me, all those whose names I didn’t remember; my grey cells are not as agile as they once were, but also, I am bad at making the connections when I think of (some of) you in the context of another country!
What stuck out to me was that amongst all the fun, hilarity, and youthful exuberance there was a seriousness, an intentionality, a desire to seek God, find his will, walk in his ways. It helps kids, in small churches especially, to be in a massive event which shows them that Christians are not some poky archaic little group, but a force to be reckoned with; where there is freedom to express worship in a genre appropriate to their age range, where there are opportunities to ask questions, to talk to leaders, to find friends old and new; and especially to be in a context where they are confronted with God’s mission to the world, and encouraged to find their part in it.
I was also struck with the maturity of the teaching: a strong foundation of theology (which I hope is being laid in all Newfrontiers churches) is being reinforced by such noted teachers as Andrew Wilson and Joel Virgo, and to my delight, younger teachers whom I had not met before, who are now carrying the baton in this next generation.
All the time God was encountering these teens: some were being saved, some returning from wandering away, some were healed, and many were finding direction for their lives. I was only there four days, but I feel profoundly blessed and deeply convinced that this event must continue for many more years.
Torrential rain nearly destroyed Newday at its birth a few years ago. The local authorities said we should abandon the ground, but God had given us an amazing promise that this conference had national significance: a promise we never even received for the massive Stoneleigh Bible Week!
We refused their advice to abandon ship and experienced an amazing week. Every year has surpassed the previous years. Thousands of teenagers’ lives have been radically changed. Who knows what the future holds for this coming generation and what a vital role Newday will play in the shaping of a new generation for the glory of God? Few conferences have genuine national, if not international, significance. Few conferences are preparing a new generation. Long may it continue. Long may Jesus be glorified because of Newday.
I make a plea, rooted in a prophetic statement: we can do more together than we can apart! Newday must go on!
4 responses to “Reflections On Newday”
Great blog, Wendy. How I wish I was 55 (!) years younger but your private arrangements have given me an idea for next year…… How I would love to be there but guess my involvement is to pray for the event and the safety and security of all on site – and at the Premier Inn (!) each day, which I did, asking God for an outpouring of his Holy Spirit on the event, with hundreds being healed and saved and recommitted and baptized in the Holy Spirit and no one leaving Newday 2013 untouched by God and his Holy Spirit.
With love to you and Terry (good news from South Africa!) – Bryan.
I totally agree with your comment Wendy. Our daughter is from a small church with a very small youth group. It has given her a realist ion that church may be ok and Christianity relevant for her and her life. She has been awakened to God in a completely new way. She is already counting down to next year and has been excitedly recounting stories of healing s and conversions. Praise God for Newday and all the great work being done there. Roll on next year.
Thank you Wendy for your reflections on Newday this year. I, like you are one of the ‘silver haired ladies’ who serve our young people at Newday and who count it a complete privilege to do so. There is no other group of people who from the moment they enter the big blue castle (as my granddaughter calls it) enter into worship like they do at Newday. I have been at every Newday and have seen it grow and develop into an event like no other and I believe that there are many more years left for it to run. Our young people come back not only buzzing with excitement but buzzing with a new experience of God in their young lives, I have also seen these young people hearing from God at Newday and are now serving him in many different ways including being in the Worship band!
Lets hope the ‘Spheres’ get behind it and Newday goes on for many years to come. I will certainly be there.
Audrey Field (Coign Woking)
My response to your wonderful reflections Wendy is an appeal to all our amazing apostles and fellow elders – At the risk of being controversial I cannot see how any Sphere would be able to reproduce a youth event as well as Newday, why would we try to? Let’s prevent a mass exodus to Soul Survivor and put everything we can into growing Newday to have even greater impact on our youth. We had 3 folk saved this week and we are hoping for many more next year AND THE YEAR AFTER! Andy Richards. (Lead Elder, The Bridge Church, St Ives)