When most people think about Thanksgiving weekend they think about turkey dinner and quiet time spent with their family. Since junior high, my Thanksgiving weekend has been spent in a stadium with a few thousand youth and young adults, experiencing God like we never have before. I have spent the past three years volunteering with YCNL, and I don’t regret a single moment.
I attended my first YCNL event when I was 11 years old. To be honest, I cannot remember many specifics about the event. I cannot tell you who spoke, who led worship, or who led the breakout sessions I attended. This was the first event I took part in with my youth group and what I do remember is that I went to YCNL feeling alone. My youth group was not large and I had only one friend my age who would be going with me. I believed that Christianity was something for old people and was truly embarrassed for any of my friends to know I attended church. What I didn’t know walking into Mile One Stadium that Friday night was how differently I would think when I left.
It was at YCNL that I was challenged for the first time to have a relationship with God, despite my age. At Mile One Centre that weekend I remember being overwhelmed at the fact that each one of these 2000 young people were living a life for Christ. God did not only want to be in relationship with adults, but he loved and wanted a relationship with me too. Suddenly, I was not alone. Clearly there was a province full of youth my age who were living a life devoted to God! This realization was both overwhelming and life- changing.
I didn’t know it then, but if it weren’t for a huge team of volunteers, that event would not have taken place. I was not aware that the kind usher who showed me to my seat when I thought I had lost my youth group was giving up his long weekend to be there. I did not realize that the woman who prayed for me at the alter had put aside her free time to be part of this event. But without them sacrificing their Thanksgiving weekend, I would not have been there. I cannot tell you why those lovely people decided to volunteer their time, but I can tell you why I do.
Like I said, I’ve attended this event for years. From the moment I was old enough to volunteer, the choice seemed obvious. Yes, of course I want to be a part of YCNL! It was there that I realized that God’s love was for me, and if this event gives one other student the opportunity to experience that same truth, then it is something I want to be a part of!
It is truly a privilege to take part in YCNL each year. I find myself thankful each Thanksgiving that I have had the opportunity to experience God’s presence with the youth and young adults of Newfoundland and Labrador.
This coming Thanksgiving weekend YCNL will be taking place again. I will be there, and I hope to see you there too!
YCNL Street Team