I once heard a story that took place during the Welsh Revival in the early 1900s. There was a man who worked closely with William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. This man heard about what the Lord was doing in Wales and took a train from England to attend services there. He ended up staying longer than he originally intended because he just could not seem to break himself away from the presence of God that was manifested in that place. When he finally made it back to the office, William Booth barked in his strong, low voice, “Where have you been?” The man’s response: “Heaven.”
I suppose I could say the same thing if someone asked me where I was last week. A few months ago, I was asked to speak for the 7-12 grade spiritual emphasis week at East Dayton Christian School. Over the last few months of praying and preparing for the chapel services, I am overjoyed to see what the Lord accomplished in the lives of these precious young people. We truly experienced a taste of heaven on earth. The Lord came and moved powerfully among us.
I am fully aware of the fact that I had very little to do with what took place. The campus of EDCS is staffed with teachers and faculty who are continually praying and interceding for the students as well as preparing the atmosphere for God to move. I simply stepped into what the Lord is already doing and had the immense privilege of taking part in it.
We started off Monday with a message on the parable of the prodigal son. I felt the need to have a time of “coming home” to the Lord. Being married to a teacher with two children in school, I understand how the summer months can be challenging spiritually. The temptation to stay up a little later and sleep in as well as vacations and travelling make it necessary to fight for quality time with the Lord. This service gave us a chance to recommit ourselves to seeking His face, as we saw from Scripture that He is always there waiting for us with open arms. Many students came to the altar to respond to Him.
On Tuesday, I spoke about King Saul. It was a heavy message, as we discussed his disobedience to the Lord, his unrepentant heart and the consequences that he faced. I challenged the students to search their hearts for any areas of sin for which they need to repent. I pleaded with them to deal with these heart issues now while they are young, rather than to drag it into their adult years, like I did. The altars were flooded with students and many were weeping and crying out to the Lord. Some brought into the light some serious issues they were dealing with and I believe the Lord did a significant work in the lives of those who responded to His Spirit.
On Wednesday, my message was about living a life led by the Holy Spirit. I talked about the importance of involving the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives. We discussed three of His roles: convincing the world about Jesus, guiding us into all truth and communicating Jesus’ words to us. We closed the service by forming a giant circle around the sanctuary and having teachers and a couple of students pray that they would be brought into the unity of the Spirit this year. I felt strongly throughout the week that the Lord wanted to do something significant this year between the student body and the faculty, so we prayed in that direction.
The final service at the school on Thursday was one I will never forget. The staff opened up the altars to invite students to seek the Lord before the message. We had a sweet time of communion with the Lord as many students went up front to pray at the altar. Several of the students came up to the mic to share their personal struggles and victories and to exhort their classmates to press into Him. The presence of the Lord was very evident, and I was hesitant to interrupt what He was doing. However, after some time in prayer, I felt a prompting to have an altar call for salvation. I asked the students who wanted to receive Christ to boldly stand up in front of their peers. Around eight students stood and we prayed together as they invited Christ into their lives. Praise the Lord for young people who want Jesus!
I felt that I should share the message that the Lord had put on my heart for that day. I briefly spoke on the story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. I talked about how the Lord wants to be first in our lives and how even good things can become idols when they take His place. I had the students write on pieces of paper what those idols were that they wanted to give to the Lord. The altar was filled with these papers as young people came forward to surrender their Isaacs as a symbolic act.
But the Lord was not finished. Several students came to the mic in brokenness and tears, beseeching their fellow students to respond to the Lord. I wish everyone reading these words could hear the raw, undignified, sincere cry of these young people. It is something you could never forget. For quite a while, students responded to the Lord as others came forward and bore their hearts to their fellow students. They were unashamed, and it was unrehearsed. And I am certain the attention of heaven was on Dayton this week.
On Friday, we had our final chapel along a local river. The students had a chance to take a canoe trip and I met them for food, fellowship and to share a final word. I encouraged them to live their lives in light of two realities: the second coming of Christ and the judgment seat of Christ. I exhorted them as young people to live their lives for the things that matter, rather than to waste their lives on temporal things. It was a great closing to a great week of ministry.
While I often hear people speaking about the upcoming generation in critical terms, I was so encouraged to see what the Lord is doing in the lives of these students. Because of privacy, I could not take photos of the flooded altars and passionate students, but those images will remain in my heart for many years to come. Please pray for these students as well as the teachers and faculty of East Dayton Christian School. I am grateful for a school that is open to the moving of God’s Holy Spirit!