I never know whether or not to capitalize all the letters in DNOW or if you only capitalize the “D” and the “N”…since they represent separate words. Disciple Now. DNow. DNOW. I’m going to go with DNow.
For those of you that are wondering what the heck I’m even talking about and could care less what letters are bigger than the others, Disciple Now weekend is a whole lot of awesome packed into about 36 hours. From Friday night to Sunday morning, students separate into small groups to learn about the Savior. Cool, right? What’s even cooler is that families in the community host these students. Yeah. An average of 8 students in your home for a weekend? Let’s just stop and reflect on the magnitude of that sacrifice.
Did you shiver a little? Yeah. Me, too. Some churches have different names for these retreat weekends. Some call it “Revolution Weekend”..that’s actually the only other name I know. (Hey, Shane Norton!) But I’m sure there are others.
These small groups of students are lead by college students or young adults. Another wow. This last weekend was 2911 Students’ DNow weekend and I had the honor to go back home and co-lead a group of eighth grade girls. Griff, our youth minister, shared that we had 20 leaders, 15 of which had graduated from Van Alstyne High School. I was blown away by that. That’s a lot of alumni. (Holla class of ’09!)
This was my fifth time to lead at a DNow weekend, and it seems like they get better every time. This group of girls is particularly close to my heart and they really inspired me.
Last summer, I led these girls at Summit camp, the week-long summer camp my church goes to every year. Two of my girls accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, which was an amazing thing to be a part of. However, 3 months later, one of these girls went to meet the One who had saved her in a tragic car accident that shook up my town.
Madison Williams was 14-years-old. She was getting ready to start her eighth grade year at school and she would have been one of my mom’s students. She was an incredible person. Honestly, I didn’t really know her before our week together at Summit, but I saw her life change. She was filled with so much joy and life that you couldn’t help but smile when you were around her.
The girls in my group were still hurting, and so was I. I kept thinking that I could have done more while I was with her. I could have talked with her one-on-one more. So many things. And these girls were struggling with the same thing.
Saturday night…actually, it was technically Sunday morning seeing as it was 2 o’clock in the morning…Madi’s best friend, Kaitlyn, came and spoke to my co-leader/best friend, Alexz, and I. She told us she had regrets; regrets about things said to Madi and also to God. The genuine sadness she felt was overwhelming for me. Yeah..I cried. It was a special moment.
Alexz and I prayed for her and prayed that when she woke up in the morning, she would feel the forgiveness of both God and Madi. In the morning, she went to Alexz and told her these three simple, but special, words:
“I felt it.”
That moment was the reason I was there all weekend. I know that in my heart. To see the relief on her face and her smile was worth the lack of sleep.
What an incredible weekend. I’m still in awe of how God moved and is continuing to shape the lives of these precious girls and I pray for them every day.
Be sure to check out Madison’s Mission to see how you can help, and don’t forget to write “Hope” on your hand in honor of Madi’s birthday on April 13, 2011. Take a picture and send it to Griff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special shoutout to Griff Servati and Dennis Smith. They’re always doing something. Without these two men of God, the 2911 students wouldn’t be the same; I wouldn’t be the same. I’m so blessed to know them.
Did you know Madi? If so, what are some of your special memories?
Listening to: “Divine Romance” by Phil Wickham.
I’m kind of obsessed with him right now.