For the first time ever, Campus Harvest is coming to Jacksonville, FL…THIS WEEKEND!!! Students from all over the Southeast region will be gathering at Southpoint Community Church to encounter God and be forever changed. For over 20yrs Campus Harvest has served as a catalyst for transformation in the hearts of students all over the world and this year will be no exception! Already this year Campus Harvest has hosted student conferences in Calgary, Los Angeles, and Durham, NC.
I’ve had the joy of being a part of the Campus Harvest team for the last 12yrs, but every year I am reminded about the first time I attended. In 2001, I was invited to attended Campus Harvest by a friend of mine from our local church dance team who refused to take no for an answer. I was reluctant to come because I knew God was drawing me in and wanting to speak to me, but I had become quite comfortable playing the role of Jonah and pretending not to care.
I boarded the white 15 passenger van intentionally sitting shotgun because I didn’t want to have to talk to the “happy christian white kids in the back”. I now realize that the opposition and resistance I was feeling was the reeling of every oppressive circumstance and influencing lie that knew the end was coming for them.
Unlike Jonah, when I arrived at Paige Auditorium at Duke University for the conference, it wasn’t a whale that swallowed me. It was the presence and overwhelming love of God that swallowed me whole and changed my life and family tree forever. I fought so hard for the first night. My insecurity and past offenses were grasping for any straw to feed the cynicism and excuses that had become as close as a child’s pacifier and blankie (anyone who has children understands the power of this combination). Thankfully the grasping came up empty…but I was being filled. Filled with NEW LIFE…filled with a NEW MISSION…filled with NEW POWER…and all of this at the hands of a God who was very much ALIVE in that place and in me.
Having encountered God through the worship, the messages, the breakouts, and the overall environment of that weekend…I was changed. I left more free than I had felt in almost a decade. I left with such a great sense of purpose and an even greater sense of God’s grace in accomplishing it and His love that never changed even when I fell short of it. I left having met the woman who I would eventually marry and have 4 beautiful children with and the very people I tried to avoid on the van ride to the conference ended up being in my wedding party. WINNING!!!
I know there are many places that people can encounter God with or without a conference, but as far as my story goes, God chose to use that weekend encounter and the environment cultivated by the Campus Harvest team to impact me. Every year since then, as a worship leader for the conference, I’ve had a front row seat to see other lives transform, to see the countenance on peoples faces change on the outside as God moves on the inside.
We have an incredible conference planned this weekend. We’ve got some amazing speakers that will inspire like Dr. Rice Broocks, Rachel Austin, and Brian Taylor. We’ve got phenomenal musicians and artists like JohnnySwim and Rhema Soul who are gonna bring the house down. We have an amazing God who is more excited to make His lovingkindness known than we can even imagine. However, the guests that I’m most excited about are the people that are gonna be walking in those doors on Friday night hurting, broken, bitter, lost, abandoned, hopeless, and fatherless…desperate for change, but afraid of what it looks like and skeptical of whether it will last. These are the people I am praying and believing will take a step of faith or at least give in to the invitation of a persistent classmate or flyer.
What new stories will be written or rewritten this weekend?
If you’ve been to Campus Harvest, what’s YOUR story? If this is your first year going to a Campus Harvest, what are you hoping for?
If you aren’t registered…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!? REGISTER NOW! <——-