Some would say that it is insanity to spend a total of thirty-five hours riding in a bus to spend five days in the sweltering heat of North Carolina. If you are one of those people, then you must never have gone to an RYS convention, because, as I’m sure the 650 people who attended would tell you, it was definitely worth it. When we left, we were blessed to see many members of our church family come see us off. We filled up all the seats of the bus and settled in for a long ride, in whatever comfortable position we could find, even if it was stretched out on the floor.
We were relieved and excited to pull into the Wesleyan College campus, looking forward to a shower and being reacquainted with old friends. We soon settled into our dorms and familiarized ourselves with the campus, especially the main auditorium and the cafeteria. Our main speakers this year were Rev. Godfrey and Rev. Kuiken, and we looked forward to the sessions they had prepared.
We were not disappointed. It was a joy to be reminded of the forgiveness that is ours through Christ. Rev. Godfrey focused on the parable of the Good Samaritan, showing the only way to salvation; and an account of Jesus’ visit to Martha and Mary in Luke, emphasizing the important things in life: listening to God and following him in faith. Rev. Kuiken used the parable of the prodigal son to demonstrate forgiveness, pointing out the sins of both the younger brother (rebellion) and the older brother (self-righteousness). They both discussed the sin of self-righteousness so prevalent among Christians and emphasized our utter helplessness without the work of Christ.
As if the main sessions weren’t enough, we were privileged to attend five workshops, discussing things from doubt, to calling, to growing up Christian. We were reminded of our duty as Christians to obey God, listening and trusting him in all things, hearing his call, conveying our faith, and letting him lead our lives. And, of course there were Son-rise groups, small Bible study groups held every morning to reflect on what we had learned and preview what we would hear that day, and Son-set groups in the evening allowed each church group to touch base and share experiences from the day.
The week included many other activities as well. The day away was a trip to the ocean, where we could swim, play some volleyball, or just sit and relax on the beach with a healthy layer of sun screen, of course. We also got to visit the North Carolina Aquarium, which we had all to ourselves. Dinner was served there as well. It was a long fun-filled day. For those with a more athletic bent, there were sports: volleyball, basketball, soccer and a first ever 5K run. Throughout the week, there were other activities: a scavenger hunt, jeopardy, and, of course, the talent show. We recognized each and every performer’s God-given talent, and the choir, as always, was excellent: a culmination of the beautiful singing we enjoyed all week.
We learned many things during the week: a healthy appreciation for air conditioning, recognition of our need for forgiveness, and the joy of Christian fellowship. Most importantly, we learned the irrevocable truth of forgiveness: that, without a doubt, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). We discovered the truth of sharing forgiveness with others who have never experienced the true forgiveness that only comes with Christ’s sacrifice and God’s adoption of us as his heirs. It was a spiritually refreshing week wrapped in wonderful Christian fellowship.
FORGIVEN! PAID IN FULL! —PSALM 103:12
Annie Pettit is a graduate of Zion Christian High School and a member of Cornerstone United Reformed Church in Hudsonville, MI.