That’s 70 different weeks of events and trips happening in just nine weeks.
There’s a lot of travel involved, to say the least. Easily half of the staff is on the road for at least five of those weeks, if not more – which means they’re gone from home and away from their families. And though the work and travel is arduous at times, it is also fulfilling and wonderful in so many ways.
As I sit and reflect on this past summer and think about all of the experiences, I don’t feel a sense of loss from the time I was away. Though I missed my family and am very tired from all the travel, the biggest feeling I have is one of fulfillment and renewal. As my analytical mind tends to do, I’ve contemplated why that’s the feeling I tend to have at the end of a CIY summer, and I’ve landed on four things that God reminds us of during our summer travels.
1. The Church is so much bigger than we typically think. One of my favorite things about traveling to so many places around the world every summer is the number of new people I get to meet. I made some amazing new friendships with people in Northern Ireland, Southern California, Eastern Pennsylvania and parts of Tennessee. There are some amazing men and women of God serving the Kingdom in all parts of the world, and we at CIY have an amazing opportunity every summer to get to be part of that larger community. The feeling of belonging to something so much bigger than ourselves, and the overwhelming love of the Father that comes with that, sometimes brings me to tears. It’s a beautiful thing for God to remind me of every summer.
2. God is a masterful artist. Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is a marvel so unusual that it stretches the mind to think that it’s a natural formation. You can’t stand in that spot and not recognize the supernatural imagination of God. Add to that the beautiful sunsets in Southern Tennessee, or the forested hills of Pennsylvania, or the swaying palm trees of Southern California … this summer I was overwhelmed by the beauty of God’s creation. Sometimes in the busy-ness of life we don’t take time to stop and look at the world around us. I’m so glad God reminded me to do just that this summer and appreciate the beautiful things He has created.
3. Prayer is powerful and essential. One of the first statements I remember from this summer was, “No act of Kingdom work can have great effect in God’s Kingdom without a foundation of prayer.” Over and over and over again I was reminded of how important prayer is in the life of a Christian. From the heartache moments on the mission field, to the tension moments among teams at MOVE and MIX events, to the overwhelming moments of joy during worship – talking to God is SO important. Whether it's peace or petition or praise, we need to spend time in prayer.
4. The Holy Spirit works in amazing ways. We work hard to plan and program and create moments year-round, and the events we create at CIY are pretty amazing. But after 20-plus years of attending CIY events, I’ve seen over and over again how the Holy Spirit works in ways that we never could have planned. And it’s during those moments – often standing at the back of an auditorium filled with thousands of students raising hands and voices in praise to the King – that I just sit back and smile as I watch the Holy Spirit do its work. It is a humbling and honoring thing to be able to witness, and it makes me fall deeper and deeper in love with my God every time I see it.
What things did God remind you of this summer? We want to know, and we want to share those experiences so that we can honor God and lift Him up. If you have a story from this CIY summer, please share it at email@example.com.
Chris Roberts served as the marketing and communications director for Christ In Youth.