Day four of our trip to New Orleans for the National Youth Gathering began with an off-site servant event. After eating breakfast we walked over to the convention center where we picked up buses to travel to our service site. On our way to the convention center, several school buses full of other youth/leaders drove by, making us fear that we would also be riding buses with no air conditioning. Thankfully, when we arrived, we found out that we would be going in air conditioned buses, which made us all very happy.
The next praiseworthy news we received was that for our service event we would be painting classrooms inside a school, which was air-conditioned. We therefore got to travel to and do our service event in the comfort of air conditioning, for which we were all very thankful! Many other groups had to work outdoors doing landscaping, which we are sure resulted in much sweating and feeling gross. In addition to enjoying AC on the buses, we also got to watch a little bit of "Despicable Me 2," which the youth (and leaders) enjoyed.
In addition to being thankful for the AC during our servant event, we are also grateful for the hospitality of the school we helped paint as they chose to feed us even though there was no expectation of that. We were served by them even as we sought to serve them.
After the servant event we returned to the convention center and the youth attended different interest centers and the ELC. Some highlights from these included playing games with different kids from across the country, a course called “Drumpf, Clinton, and Jesus,” and live concerts by Remedy Drive and David Crowder.
Following the interest centers we ate dinner at a nearby food court and then walked to the Superdome for the night’s mass event. During the introduction portion we found out that after the news of the shooting of the police officers in Baton Rouge the blood donation center at the ELC took in 180 pints of blood in one day, which almost single handedly took care of a blood shortage at the region’s blood bank. This act of service got the attention of the local news who did a piece on the blood donation, with a local newscaster calling the LCMS the “Church Missouri Lutheran Synod.” We think they were a little confused.
The theme for the mass event was humility. They began by talking about how humility is oftentimes hard to describe, but that it is easy to recognize when someone is humble and also easy to recognize when someone is not. This led into the discussion of how Jesus is the exemplar of humility as Paul says in Philippians 2:3-11:
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
As a helpful analogy to understand what it means for us to be humble, Pastor Matt described our humility as an echo of Christ’s humility. We ourselves are not humble due to our fallen nature and inherent selfishness, but through Christ we can be an echo of humility.
Using this analogy, along with Philippians 2:3-11, the other speakers spoke about how in humility we can serve others and together do great things. On stage they started a discussion of how if everyone in the arena was to donate $20 we could raise approximately $500,000, which could be used to do some major ministry in New Orleans. They then did a poll for three options (by measuring cheers). After the poll they were about to announce the winner when the stage went black and a spotlight came on illuminating Pastor Matt. He then started talking about how quite often when we try to serve it can quickly and easily slip into being about us. While we are helping others, we often get puffed up by pride in our good works and are no longer echos of Christ’s humility. Christ served those around Him in true humility, not out of a desire to become famous, or loved, or to puff Himself up, but instead out of a mindset which considered others as more important than Himself. It is this mindset that we ought to have in our interactions and it is this humility which we are to echo.
After wrestling with what true humility looks like the night then turned to considering how we can humbly serve. The main speaker came from a broken home and spoke of the people who influenced her and helped her from that dark place and into a place of healing. These people included a friend who invited her to church, a Pastor, a DCE, and a woman at church who took her under her wing to teach her about how to worship. These individuals echoed Christ’s humility and thereby changed a life.
The speaker’s story was powerful and ended with a question: where has God placed you to be an echo? God has placed us where we need to be and calls us to live humbly and to serve others. The speaker’s question is a call to consider how we, in humble service, can do great things in the service of the kingdom. This question is not only valid for the youth, but for all Christians as we seek to do God’s will in our life. So with the youth, we should all consider, "Where has God called us to be an echo of Christ’s humility?"
After the mass event we stayed for Mass Event Plus, which was a group called The Skit Guys. They are two guys who do biblically focused live skits. They did skits on David and Goliath, the story of Jesus casting out demons into the pigs, and several others. It was a great time and full of laughter, with many of the youth saying that it was the highlight of their day. After The Skit Guys we walked back to the hotel, had a final discussion about the da,y and quickly crashed as we didn’t get back to the hotel until about 11:45 pm.
Please keep us in your prayers! Specific prayer requests/praises for Tuesday are:
Praise and Thanksgiving
- The excellent work of the New Orleans P.D. and other local organizations.
- The tireless efforts of the volunteers to help make this experience great
- Air conditioning on the servant event buses and at the servant event
- Great opportunities for worship and hearing live music and The Skit Guys
- The service of the NYG attendees in giving blood
- The friends and families of the police officers attacked in Baton Rouge, LA.
- Safety for all law enforcement, especially those protecting us this week.
- Easing of blisters, sore joints, sore backs, and exhaustion.
- and that God would work through the gathering and the adult leaders to transform the youth and bring them closer to Him.