I've been finding it really difficult to write this year's reflection for Teens Conference. Maybe it's because everything feels so surreal right now. Maybe it's because I'm mourning the fact that we don't know when we will be able to celebrate together. Or maybe because writing it down makes it real, and not having that human interaction face to face makes it feel incomplete. Going from a high of seeing God work into the stark reality of not being able to physically be with our family and friends. With all that is going on in our world, it's hard to celebrate; there are moments I even feel irrationally guilty and selfish for wanting to. But it is precisely due to all these uncertainties that I know we need to celebrate, even if it is a series of small victories. We need to proclaim and cling on to the truth of who Jesus is. The world needs to see this Hope that we carry, this Hope that the world cannot snub out. They need to see that Jesus has No Rival in all circumstances.
Teens Conference 2020 has come and gone. To say it was like all the other TCs would be an understatement. This was probably one of the most challenging TCs that we have ever experienced. I have never had to make such difficult decisions with weighty consequences and emotionally go through much agonizing collective discernment. From the beginning, our heart has always wanting each person to experience NO RIVAL, even those in leadership. Boy, were we in for a ride.
In the first 5 months, we were "comfortable" and even ahead of schedule. None of us could have predicted that this was to prepare us for the turn of events in our country and world. Curveballs after curveballs were thrown at us, but God gave us such unity and peace. After having to change our plans multiple times, we were unwavering in our belief that TC was meant to be a beacon of hope for this generation at this moment. While others were telling us to panic and to be fearful, our desire for this generation to tell the story of His power and confidence through prayer, compassion, and selflessness became stronger and stronger. God is in control - even in the unknown of this virus, He already knows.
He has victory over the worst
outcome and He Has No Rival.
In all the changes and decisions, God really pushed us beyond what we knew together and allowed us to re-imagine how the Kingdom story can be written in and through us. As such, just before TC turns 50, we ventured into a new chapter through His providence and moved everything online! Through the creativity of our teams, we were able to use different online platforms to make this happen. Each decision we had to make was covered with grace, even up to the last moment on the 1st day of TC. Miraculously, God allowed us to make decisions each time before an official government announcement was made. Through it all, we experienced God's goodness, faithfulness, and providence like never before. We witnessed unity, we saw His spirit move us into action, we marveled at everything coming together by His grace.
Even though there were times of heaviness, I loved the journey of experiencing this with a community I know and love so dearly. We, as a community, have something so special and we are uniquely positioned for more than just ourselves - TC Beyond proves that in ways I have never dared to imagine. God has given us an amazing foundation of trust and history. God gave us unity and vision each step of the way. He prepared us for each move because He knew. And with each move, He pushed us to expand our hearts and dream a little bigger. And through each move, we grew in our confidence that God has a plan and we were to wait and listen. When my faith was small and was frustrated in the waiting, He surrounded me with prayers to keep pressing on. He truly showed us how HE has No Rival.
I am so thankful for this generation and this group of volunteers that I consider as family. Even in their disappointment, they did not grumble and inspired others to keep going. There are no words for how thankful I am for each team's partnership and trust each step of the way. It is an unbelievable new milestone of what we were brought into. Our theme No Rival, as we prayed over and over again, was experienced in ways that we could never have imagined, it also became such a timely message in the midst of the chaos - for not only the students but for myself, our board, our staff, our leadership team, and all our volunteers.
I pray that No Rival continues to bring you hope as we care for our world by staying apart at this time. Our God knows. He has already won. May this TC always humble us to our knees in awe of how He used our gifts and our community to further His Kingdom.
When we remember this TC, may we be encouraged to see trials and tribulations as opportunities and not limitations. May we have the courage to stand firm in unwavering hope because of who our God is. May we continue to proclaim that He had No Rival, has No Rival, and will always have No Rival. May we continue to honour Him and love deeply.
As we get to head into the 50th year of TC, let's celebrate how He has been so faithful and how He will continue to be. We have something so, so special, and now the world gets to share it with us. We didn't even plan it! I'm confident that God's not done with our wonderfully crazy community. Please don't stop praying with me and encouraging this generation to see that they are part of writing this legacy in His story. Now isn't that something to look forward to?