I just got back from Area Conference (Winter Conference/Rockbridge) & am really amazed by God. God did immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine & really poured out His Spirit on the attending students in a way I couldn’t have known to pray for.
I should say first that I didn’t have high expectations going in – winter/area conferences never had a great impact on my personal or ministry growth as a student. I was also very preoccupied with other things, especially planning for UVA’s Spring Witness Week. To me, Winter Conference was stretching precious time thin & was distracting/detracting from witness-building work in the UVA IV chapter. How silly of me!
God brought Ryan Pfeiffer, an IV staff worker from California, to preach. From the first night’s talk, I knew how wrong I was. He was preaching in power & unveiling truths about the Holy Spirit in much-needed ways. As a worship leader I felt a real partnership with him from that first sermon & it was all worth it. I also got to lead a seminar which was fun, but the greatest joy was seeing people respond to the Spirit’s work in their hearts.
On Saturday night, Ryan invited people to respond to God’s power & nature as a God that calls real relationship with Him & for witness, not out of obligation, but out of overflowing love with Him & hearing His guidance. Many many students stood. I cannot describe to you in numbers or words the way the Spirit was striking the hearts of people in that room. Many were cut to the core. Many realized how good God actually is for the first time or the first time in a long time. It was unbelievable. It was the Spirit moving in power.
From vantage point at the piano on-stage, tears filled my eyes as I saw many of my UVA students stand, both to receive real relationship with the God of holy love & to receive God’s power for real witness out of love instead of fear or burden, to do witness is beautiful & exciting.
Let me share one perfect symbol of what I think God is doing & showed me. Each school had a poster with recognizable emblems & a campus map. Small groups had the opportunity to listen & consider who God wanted them to witness to put those names on Post-Its to mount on the poster. This was a symbol of their desire to cover that person & the campus with prayer & to witness to that person & the campus. I don’t say this to boast at all, but the UVA poster was covered beyond measure more than any of the others, I couldn’t believe it. If my UVA students meant what they wrote, if they will follow through to pray & act as witnesses to those people & to the UVA campus, then they will see & know that God is mighty to save & that He will do it.
The UVA Witness Prayer is so covered with prayers/names that you can't even see the map or photos! These students were covering our campus in prayer. If my UVA students will really stand for God & pray & witness, who knows what we will see!
In a recent newsletter I shared that I’m praying & working to turn the tide in the chapter toward witness & invitation instead of insularism & complacency. I thought the conference was hindering my work. Now I realize that this conference was a prerequisite for that to happen. As a staff worker, I am faithfully committed to see ripples of change in people’s lives & the chapter & the campus. But I joined staff to see a wave of God’s Spirit overflow & overwhelm. Perhaps the roaring worship was a precursor of His power to come. Perhaps the tide is already turning.
- For my friends & supporters — Pray that UVA students would fan the flame of God’s power & that those who made commitments to God or to witness anew would let that power take root in them. Pray for me & the student leaders who are organizing Witness Week. We are going to start recruiting students now.
- If you’re a UVA IVer who went to Rockbridge — Tell your small group leader &/or a good Christian friend about what God did so you can get prayer for power & accountability to follow through. Then, act on your new commitments, to press into God’s call as witnesses. With Spring Witness Week just two weeks away, you have a perfect opportunity to embrace the challenge & let allow Him to use you. Please contact me for more info!
A UVA first-year small group prays together at the witness poster. Pray that God would reveal His power in response to their prayers & witness.
Early on Saturday the poster was already fairly covered. By that night the "Virginia" emblems were no longer visible.