Looking back… [a reflection of the 2018 Gathering]

Posted on April 30, 2020 by ELCA Youth Gathering

 

I had always grown up going to church and believing in something bigger, but I wasn’t overly passionate about my faith. At the airport, waiting to leave for the 2018 Gathering, a group of us decided to go to Starbucks and it was that moment when I realized this was a group of people who I knew I would make life changing memories with. I knew I was there for a purpose.

When we arrived in Houston, I discovered that a lot of the other people in our hotel were from Minnesota as well and that gave me an even greater opportunity to build long lasting relationships with other teens just like me! During our Interactive Learning day, I had the opportunity to talk with others from across the church and make connections.

My favorite part of the Gathering was Mass Gathering. Being in NRG Stadium, full of energetic souls, worship music and incredible speakers, nothing else mattered. There were no worries or outside distractions. It was a place where I could just be myself. So many people were giving their lives to Jesus, singing their hearts out. I wanted to be as passionate as them, so I sang along, elevating my worship to God. 

On the last night together, Tenth Avenue North performed. Most nights we stood in the stands surrounding the stage, but this particular night, we were able to get floor seats. I remember, my congregational group was singing at the top of our lungs. During one of the songs, my friends and the people around me wrapped our arms around each other, swaying back and forth. It was then that I felt God’s presence, reassuring me that God had a plan and I had a purpose. 

After the Gathering, my newfound faith was in action. I started doing Bible studies on a daily basis, highlighting the things that stood out to me, and sharing my notes when I felt called to do so. I surrounded myself with people that had the same beliefs as me, I joined a Bible study group at my school and I started going to church on a weekly basis. My life was changed in the best way. 

Grace Heideman is finishing up her senior year in a growing community in Minnesota. In the fall, Grace will attend the University of Minnesota – Duluth. She loves to weight lift and travel and is passionate about her faith.

 

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