Nazarene Youth Conference is just around the corner and as the last minute plans are made, my mind wanders to when I attended NYC as a student in 1991. It seems unfathomable that that was 20 years ago. My how time flies.
Back then, you had to be chosen to attend NYC. I remember sending in the application, then reading a devotional book called "Spending Time With God" and having to memorize specific scriptures, and THEN there was the interview. I was SO nervous. I wanted to go to NYC so bad and it all hinged on this interview! YIKES! But finally, after everything was said and done, I got the letter that said I had been chosen and I was so excited I could hardly stand it! Then I had to figure out how to PAY for it! It was about $1000 to attend and I had no idea where it would come from. But God is good and it all came together and I even was able to take some spending money too.
I was the only teen attending from my church and I would have been nervous about that, but I was going to be rooming with friends from another church that had been my "home church" for years, so I wasn't worried. My roommates were Stacy Hamilton (now Stacy Gibson), Dawn Nunley (now Dawn Savage) and Janell Waid (now Janell Williams). We had a great time together. I never will forget the morning we ALL OVERSLEPT because we'd SET our alarm clock but hadn't actually TURNED ON the alarm!!! We missed the bus and everything. Ha ha.
Our District, (the Northeastern Indiana District) piled onto two charter buses and headed to Orlando, FL. We rode on that bus for something like 18 hours. UGH! We finally made it though.
While at NYC, my group included my roommates as well as Jason Bailey, Ryan Nunley, and Rob Council. Others came and went in our group, but the seven of us stuck together for the most part that week. It was an amazing time. Those folks are some of the most amazing people on the planet. And it was so much fun to be with them. From an opening Concert with Steven Curtis Chapman (which he held twice back to back because there wasn't enough room for us all to fit in the venue at the same time) to the amazing services with speakers like Guy Dowd, Josh McDowell, Gary Henecke, Becky Tirabassi and more, NYC was a week that literally changed my life. It was during that week that I felt the call to full - time Christian service. Though I didn't know in what capacity yet. God used that week to speak to me in so many ways and I've looked back at those times, those services and those friendships many many times over the years.
I'm still good friends with the people I went to NYC with. In fact, while waiting in line at the Taco Bell on our way home, I met a long lost friend (Matt Grills) that I hadn't seen since we were preschoolers. We became friends at NYC and found out we'd been friends already later on.
My prayer is that NYC 2011 will be as amazing for the students attending this year, as NYC 1991 was for me. If you are going this year...pay attention. God may just change your life! :-)