Live 8, Live Awakened

 In All Church of God, IYC: International Youth Convention, Youth Ministries


By Mary Baker Boudissa

IYC is an opportunity to experience the life-changing power of God through worship, fellowship, and studying his word. This IYC, rather than having a theme based on a single verse of Scripture, the convention focused on understanding and living out Romans 8. This text provided the theme: LIVE! LIVE…free, LIVE…awakened, LIVE…empowered, LIVE…connected. Live awakened was the emphasis on Thursday of the convention.

What does it mean to be awakened to faith and hope? For Josh Weiger, student ministries pastor at Park Place Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, it meant awakening to God’s call on his life. During IYC 2012, Josh shared his touching story of awakening to the call to ministry as part of a conference titled “Awakened to Faith and Hope.”

Weiger shared how IYC has played a significant role in his walk with Christ. He was an IYC intern at the San Antonio convention in 2008, and IYC 2012 has been a time of sharing missions and service experiences with his youth group. There’s another reason this convention is special. “It’s come full circle,” Weiger said. IYC 2002, the last time the convention was held in Denver, Colorado, was when he received his call to ministry, and it was truly life-changing.

One morning, after attending a conference about evangelism with some friends, Weiger decided to explore the streets of Denver. It was there that he encountered a few of the local homeless men that are common on Denver streets. One picked up and ran when he saw Josh and his friends. The next two they met introduced themselves as Downtown Charlie and Chuck and asked for food. “They said, ‘Please don’t be like the adults and just blow us off,’” recalled Weiger. Moved, Weiger and his friends set off to buy them some tacos. By the time they returned, there was a third man who was also in need of food. “Downtown Charlie asked if he could give one of his tacos to his friend.”

Weiger continued, “I remember having an experience with this man—looking into his eyes and seeing Jesus in the eyes of a forty-six-year-old homeless man, talking with him, giving him something to eat, and hearing his story.” Josh and his friends told Downtown Charlie and the others about the hope they have in Christ.

When Josh and his companions left the homeless men, they were so affected that they did a “holy huddle” right there and prayed. Downtown Charlie was watching. “Did we do something wrong,” he asked. When Josh explained that they were simply praying for Charlie and his friends, Downtown Charlie broke down and began to cry. He said, “No one has ever loved me like that. No one has ever cared that much about me.”

It was in that moment that Josh experienced his awakening—not just to the impact that ministry can have on one person’s life, but of God’s intended purpose for his life in service to others. His exchange with Downtown Charlie prepared him to hear God speaking to him, calling him to ministry.

One night during IYC 2012, Josh took a small group of his Park Place youth to that very corner and remembered. They ate at Taco Bell, and he shared with them the story of an encounter that helped awaken him. He used his experience as a challenge to them to be open to what could happen for them at IYC. He told them, and he told those who attended his conference, how to live awakened:

“Romans 8 is all about living through the Spirit. You are challenged to be receptive to what the Spirit is doing in your life. If the Spirit prompts you to buy a taco for a homeless man, do it, and you are going to see Jesus.”

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