Hannibal-LaGrange College group challenged to obey
HANNIBAL – Super Summer’s official theme might be the selfish personal pronoun “ME,” but at the second of two week-long events – this one at Hannibal-LaGrange College (HLG) – the unmistakable actual theme is “obedience,” pure and simple.
“Jesus didn’t say, ‘If you love me, go join a church,’” said Matt Kearns, student ministry director for the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). “He said, ‘If you love me, keep my commandments.’”
This focus on obedience at the MBC’s annual week-long teaching, discipleship and training event for youth wasn’t an accident.
“Walking away from last year, we had the same experience as the years before: we get to Thursday, and the students are finally ready open up and learn,” Kearns said. “And then they go home the next day. Immediately we began to ask how can we ramp up the conversation sooner rather than later.”
For Kearns, that meant cutting straight to core of the modern teenager, a selfishness embodied in “ME.”
“We’re not being ugly, but look around us,” he said. “We’re inundated all day with commercials and media that say it’s all about me. Let’s call a spade a spade. That’s simply where we are. The question was how to get from ‘it’s all about me’ to ‘save me’ to the Great Commission which is ‘send me.’”
Kearns said the students instantly caught the notion of obedience and following Christ’s Great Commission the previous week at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, but initially there was a resistance at the HLG event. There was too much “ME” in the way.
“Monday night it was obvious there was a wall,” he said. “We made it through to Tuesday and it was still there. Even some youth pastors were coming up and telling us they believed the students were truly struggling with letting the ‘ME’ stuff go. They weren’t engaged at all.”
Then came Wednesday night. “Shape Me” night. More than 250 students focused on Obedience with a capital O.
“Even as we started, I felt like these kids know the drill, they’ll just go through the motions again,” Kearns said. “But as we began to talk about obedience, the atmosphere changed and God honored that change in students’ lives and in the lives of their friends. It was a different group of people. There was obviously a transformation and I believe it was the Holy Spirit responding to us being obedient.”
One of those students who felt an intense call to obey was Joshua Pearson from Camden Point Baptist Church. He left the evening worship service early to call his best friend back home and tell him about a new life possible through Jesus.
“He was an atheist but he is beginning to see Christ for the first time,” he said. “It’s amazing how God has begun to work on him.”
Kearns and the rest of the MBC student ministry team are doing everything they can to give students a plan to keep the passion alive. Thursday they began the 48-Hour Challenge, a focus on going home and applying the passion for obedience and evangelism that’s been fostered at Super Summer. At the 48-Hour Challenge section of the MBC’s student ministry website, www.mostudentz.com, Kearns hopes to log countless stories of students who, like Pearson, had a burden to share Christ with their friends back home in the first two days. Just days after the SBU Super Summer ended, more than 100 students had reported their friends’ salvations.
“There’s a gap to be filled and it’s your job to fill it. It’s the gap between this room tonight and your room next Monday,” was Kearns’ final challenge to the students after God broke down the initial wall of stubbornness. “Will you obey?”