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Guest post by Mackay Lee, Middle School Director

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us ALIVE with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

It’s 8:35 on Friday night. The Refuge is dark, only lit by glow-in-the-dark jewelry and LED lights that are pulsating to music. And the music is pumping. Students are pouring into The Refuge, and everyone rushes to the front of the stage, wondering what is about to happen next. All of the sudden, students are being led in a cheer: “Jesus is the best thing I’ve ever felt, I can get hype all by myself!” Soon, 120+ students and adult leaders are jumping and shouting in unison, “Jesus is the best thing I’ve ever felt, I can get hype all by myself!” This set the tone for what was to be an incredible and awesome Youth Encounter Weekend.

For those of you unfamiliar with Youth Encounter Weekend, this is our annual fall, in- town retreat. Our theme this year was ALIVE, which was centered on Ephesians 2:4-5. It’s safe to say, after 30 minutes of cheering and chanting to kick off the weekend, everyone was quickly coming to understand what the theme was.

Our speaker, Addison Shock, did an excellent job of exploring our theme, ALIVE, and framing the weekend by opening with the questions, “What does it mean to have life and to be ALIVE? What does it mean to be ‘dead?’” He made the point that it’s in Christ that we have life; we don’t have to live “dead” lives! Throughout the weekend, Addison challenged students to think about what it meant to be alive in Christ and how that could impact their lives. He closed out the weekend with the point that when we accept Christ’s mercy and love and choose daily to join in God’s work, we bring life to others. Life brings more life!

While there is a lot that goes into prepping for YEW, there were definitely a lot of reasons to feel ALIVE over the weekend. Students and leaders were encouraged in the Word and worship. We were able to serve our community in different capacities: by delivering cookies to fire departments, police departments and senior adults in our church and by helping the BDC set up for their ministry fair in Howze Park. And, we were all recharged by fun games, free time and a lot of really good food!

A BIG thanks to all of those who volunteered to be a leader for YEW ’17, which entailed leading small groups, transporting students, serving alongside students and spending multiple nights at a host home. Thank you to those who opened up their homes and hosted students and leaders to sleep (hopefully) and eat during the weekend. Thanks to those who volunteered to shuttle students all over our city. Also, thanks to all who helped provide food for our Saturday potluck dinner; it was delicious!

Lastly, a special thanks to Addison Shock for sharing God’s Word, Njeri Camphor from FCA for leading our hype time on Friday night and the Highpoint Worship Band for leading worship over the weekend. YEW ’17 would not have been possible without the combined efforts of these people and our awesome leaders and volunteers!

Watch the YEW recap video below for a taste of the weekend:

YEW 2017 from Christ Church Memphis on Vimeo.

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