IMYC’s Big Weekend happened on 2-4 February and was a combination of our young leaders training weekend ‘Overflow’ and a volunteer training day on Saturday. There was a venue in Dundrum Methodist, Dublin and Trinity Methodist, Lisburn. Here’s how Lauren, a young person from Glengormley Methodist, found her experience at the Lisburn venue.

On the 2nd of February 2018, I had the privilege to attend IMYC’s Big Weekend. This weekend for me was about growing in my faith, meeting new people and gaining more confidence in becoming a leader in the church, all of which I achieved.

Upon arrival at Trinity Methodist Church in Lisburn, we were given a ‘goody bag’ which had water, chocolate, a folder, a pen and a notebook in it. There was also a small personal Bible verse given to each young person. Mine was ‘perhaps you were born for such a time as this’ – Esther 4v14b. I really related to this verse; it was perfect to me. After we got our Lanyards, we headed into the main hall where we got stuck into the programme. Lisa Best got us going straightaway right into games to get everyone settled and mingling with each other.

This then led into worship, where God was evidently moving and working through each and every one of us. I find, I really connect with God during worship because I can understand things more through music rather than a bible passage and I like to sing. Most of the young people went up for prayer to the incredible prayer team; you could feel the Holy Spirit in our presence. The worship throughout the whole weekend was amazing with so much talent being shown. I found it incredibly easy to connect with God during this time and also found it beneficial to actually put my phone away in a box at the front. Trust me, I am the last person you would hear saying that, but in this moment with Gods presence, there was nowhere else I wanted to be and no one else I wanted to talk to other than him.

On the Friday night after supper, we got into our small groups and went back into the main hall and gathered for what was called ‘Dutch Auction’. It was quite clear no one had any clue what this was going to be! After it was explained by Gareth and Matty, it turned out to be actually quite an amusing activity. It was weird and random challenges, where each small group would bet how many of the random challenge you could do in a specific time period. There were challenges from popping balloons with your backside to throwing sweets at each other to doing 45 push-ups in 30 seconds (fair play, Adam). Nonetheless, it was a really good way to bond with others and get to know your small group more.

My small group leader was the one and only Snookie (Rebekka Snoek, TOM29), who made our small group a comfortable and relaxed environment to be in as we got to know about each other more throughout the weekend. Each time we heard a talk, we would come together and reflect on what we had just heard and share our thoughts and viewpoints. On the Sunday morning, each small group wrote a prayer about a specific topic, which we prayed during the Sunday morning service. My prayer was about how I wanted God to help the Overflowers as they leave the weekend; that they be protected from temptations and to not be led astray from his everlasting love.

The talks during the weekend on Friday night, Saturday morning and afternoon, were the most interesting and enjoyable talks I’ve listened to in a very long time and I think I speak for most of the young people which attended. I enjoyed them because they were relatable, easy to follow and were actually important to a young leaders life. The first talk was the story of Joseph which had the themes of dreams, confidence, and determination to get where you want to be in life. This is very relatable because, at our age, we are making crucial decisions in life which will greatly affect our future. Some people may lack the courage to be able to stand up for themselves and work hard for the things they want maybe due to situations like bullying or peer pressure. This story shows us that even when Joseph went through hard times, he knew God had given him gifts and a plan which he wanted him to follow through with. It teaches us as young people how we have so much ahead of ourselves and that we have God with us every step of the way even when there are dark times. Knowing him we can feel reassured, that light will always come. Another talk by Phil Emerson, who was an excellent speaker, was about how God says, how we are born to be someone and are born to do something. What stuck out for me during this talk on the Saturday morning was, when he said how we have to face the storms head on because if we run away scared they’ll still be there right behind us, but that we should face them head on and go through the storm to then be able to get past it. This stuck out because it’s so true and relatable to my life because many times a situation would come up and I would spend ages thinking and worrying about what I’m meant to do when the answer is probably a step away; I just have to take that step. This talk also gave me the reassurance that no matter how stressed or anxious I may get about how the future will play out, I need to trust in God and believe that he has an amazing journey for me.

On Saturday we attended workshops to help us learn as a young leader how to gain new skills and use them in helping younger Christians. There were workshops in games, children’s songs, bible study, prayer and craft which each were related back to a theme in the bible to be able to then teach in a talk. My favourite workshop was prayer as Zoe brought out the creative side and made it more interesting for a child to be able to understand and learn.

The highlight of my weekend was probably Lisa asking me to sing with Anna and the band in the Sunday morning service. If you know me, believe it or not, I actually get nervous about singing in front of other people, so naturally, I freaked out and made Jess do it with me! Nonetheless, I sang and even had a solo part – who would’ve thought that and I enjoyed every minute of it. This truly made me happy at the thought of someone believing in me that I could do it and do it well which has made me grow in confidence step by step to stand out and sing. It’s also given me the courage to think about one day being a part of the Autumn Soul band – you never know!

I would like to say a massive thank you to the IMYC team for organising this weekend, the leaders involved with the weekend, Trinity for allowing us to use their facilities, the men and woman who provided us with our breakfast, lunch, and dinner, parents, youth leaders and to anyone else who made this weekend possible. I think it is extremely beneficial for my age group to attend. So from shouting ‘Snookie’ every other minute, chanting that someone has a bucket on their head, doing the ‘happy salmon’ with someone you’ve only just met, worshipping, dancing, staying up till all hours annoying Lisa Best and learning about Jesus – I’d say this weekend pretty much has it all and is perfect for a young person to attend as they are and will be the future leaders of the Church.