Posts tagged with ‘Student Ministries’

  • Making an IMPACT

    By in Stories on

    Over 300 middle and high school students, along with their small group leaders, spread across the city on March 25th to make a difference during IMPACT 2017 Weekend. Rather than heading to Mayfaire, watching a movie or relaxing on the beach, these students sacrificed their weekend to give back to their community by working with local non-profit organizations.

    Students partnered with Meals on Wheels, The Salvation Army, A Bike for Every Child, The Food Bank of Eastern North Carolina, Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry, The Miracle League, two nursing homes and two individual home projects. Through serving, the power of God’s love spread to the community and students had the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of others.

    On top of serving in the community on Saturday, there were sessions held at Port City over the weekend that helped frame the importance of being part of something bigger than yourself. Friday night, Chris Sasser, PC3’s Pastor of Family Ministries, spoke on the importance of allowing God to write your story.

    Saturday evening, students, leaders and parents gathered together to worship and hear a message from Pastor Mike Ashcraft. The heart behind his message was carrying an attitude of service into your family and daily life.

    Volunteering in the community paired with these sessions helped create a spark for meaningful conversations to take place. Students explored the importance of impact and how they have the power to influence and serve others. This idea has always been a topic of discussion in student ministries, but was made applicable through Impact 2017 Weekend.

    While impacting others in the community, serving also had an impact on the students. 6th grader Maxwell Lewis said, “Serving affected how I see the world and how lucky I am to be able to serve.” For many students, it was their first time giving back to their community. Adam Carr, a 6th grader working at the food bank, said, “We were giving food to others and I had never done anything like that before.”

    Maggie Flores and Katie Geschickter visited the Pender Memorial Hospital Nursing Home. Although a small and simple task, they saw a huge impact. Both worked with people and directly saw the effect of the impact they were making. Maggie said, “One lady told us we were such a blessing to her by helping her be happy and it was so awesome! I connected with others through connecting in our small group and with the community.”

    By going to the nursing home, Maggie and Katie showed the patients how young students were willing to serve. Katie says, “They don’t get to see that impact very often. We got to see an impact as well by being able to witness how happy people were while serving.”

    Lucy Ridd, a 7th grader serving at the food bank said “I really like that we are going out into the community and making a difference. It’s a really cool opportunity for us middle schoolers to do on a weekend.” At the end of the weekend, 30,000 pounds of food was sorted for the food bank.

    By serving, students were not only able to make an impact, but were also able to be impacted by the change they were creating in their community.

    Story Written By: Maggie Brown

  • You Are Made NEW

    By in Stories on

    Every year PC3’s student ministry hosts an event called New, a lock-in for high school girls. This lock-in provides girls in 8th to 12th grade the fresh reminder that they are loved fully by God. The peaceful and girly environment creates space to foster high-quality friendships with girls and leaders alike. Each part of the evening is intentionally designed for connection, conversation and bonding for the all-female assembly in attendance.

    The main speaker, Marcy Bolick, used humor to provide awareness about how a really difficult life event doesn’t have to define our walk with God; rather it’s more important to focus on the state of our heart and the reasons why we make mistakes in the first place. Marcy’s message engaged the girls toward realizing that they are beautifully created in God’s image. She taught us to remove the sunglasses of insecurity, which we often forget to take off, that prevent us from knowing what a wonderful creation God intended us to be.

    In the early night hours the girls rotated by age group through stations; a boutique of hand-me-down clothing, a craft and a speaker. Girls shopped in the boutique of donated items and each girl brought an item to give and went home with a different one. It’s fun for the girls to try on clothing, shoes and accessories that were loved by someone else.

    Next, girls spent time making a prayer board with magnets in their own style. We spent time hammering and gluing the pieces together into a masterpiece. For the final station Laura Bullock, an Urban Missionary with Vigilant Hope, shared how their ministry is impacting the less fortunate in Wilmington. She taught the girls the appropriate way to interact with the homeless, how to get involved in the ministry and the realty of homelessness in our own city.

    After taking time for relaxing and quiet time, girls gathered in worship once again. Our voices were lifted to God and we had a newly refreshed vision. It was a very powerful environment. The passion in the room was electric. Each girl wrote on a tile what feelings and insecurities she was leaving behind to become a new creation in Christ. Then all the tiles were mosaicked together to make a beautiful masterpiece.

    New is always centered on the verse, Psalm 139:14: I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.

    The capstone of the evening is always the dance party around 2AM for everyone to just be silly before settling in for a movie.

    Pat Connolley, a student ministry staff member, pours her heart into this event which has been taking place for seven years. The sleepover leaves all the girls exhausted, but spiritually fed and reinvigorated to carry out God’s mission in their schools and lives.

    Story Written By: Megan Crowe

  • Beneath The Surface

    By in Stories on

    In 2012, Jim Gratton changed the focal point of his life. He had always believed in God, but he wasn’t serious about his walk with God. It was time for a change, and Jim became more serious about who God had created him to be.

    Jim was asked if he would be interested in serving in an unlikely place on Wednesday nights: the middle school ministry here at Port City Church, Tsunami. He visited a couple of times to check out the ministry and see what it was all about. After visiting twice he said, “Nope, not for me. Our kids are grown and I have nothing to offer.” But God was still speaking to his heart about serving at Tsunami, and he couldn’t get it off his mind. He made the decision to dive into something that was completely uncomfortable and to serve in a ministry he didn’t have any experience in. God had him exactly where he wanted and was going to use him in a way to greatly impact students with the Gospel.

    Right away, his eyes were opened to the amount of brokenness in the students that walk through the doors each week. Students that are struggling to perform in school at a high level, that don’t have the best relationship with their parents, and that struggle to make friends. His mission was born. He wanted to love students like Jesus loves them and to show them that there are people in life that truly care about them.


    Jim Gratton and his Tsunami crew (Jim is far right in yellow)

    Jim realized that every student has something beneath the surface that he couldn’t see on the outside. He found two main ways to pour into the students on Wednesday nights. The first is during the worship service. Tsunami services start with a game to have some fun at the beginning, then there is music and a message similar to Sundays in the main service. Sometimes students have a hard time paying attention during the music or the message. Jim is the “bad guy” during the service. When I first started serving at Tsunami, I have to admit that I was a little scared of Jim! He will carefully ask a student (the boys) during the large group setting to come out to the lobby with him so he can have a one-on-one conversation with them. You may be thinking that Jim is going to yell at them and try to talk some sense into them, but that is not the case.

    “I ask the boys questions that go straight to the heart,” says Jim. He likes to talk about the “should” and “shouldn’t” aspect of life with them. He will say, “What made you decide to act that way and make that choice?” Every student knows deep down inside of them the right thing to do, but sometimes they choose to do the wrong thing. This is what Jim is trying to help them with. They are all unique and have different internal struggles of their own, and he wants to make a relational connection point outside of the service because he wants to help them grow.

    12919729_10154140845934031_1518132581933965250_nThe other way Jim lives on mission during Tsunami is by coaching a group of small group leaders. Using his years of experience and wisdom, he pours into each man on a personal level. Jim said, “There are a lot of men in the church that don’t have anyone to call when they need help. I want to be that person that they can count on.” The ability for each small group leader to pour into the students is directly correlated with their own personal walk with Jesus and the people who are pouring into them. Practically, this means he has tough conversations with the men and challenges them. “I have a passion to see men to become the men they are called to be,” says Jim. During his life he wished he had been the leader he was supposed to be, and he wants the men in Tsunami to grab onto this principle and live it out.

    One thing that resonated with me about Jim as a person is that he cares about all people on such a deep level. He doesn’t see all the students that walk through the doors as just a number; he sees them as individuals that God has created. Jim probably gives at least 15 hours per week or more to pour into the lives of students and leaders at Tsunami. He is now serving in a way that he never thought he could four years ago, but he decided to “Lean In” to what God was doing and took that next step. It was uncomfortable, but it was worth it to see people grow in their walk with God.

    “God helped me realize that the only thing that really matters in this life are relationships,” he said. “I want people to know that they are forgiven and are created for a purpose.”

    Story Written By: Davey Hatcher

  • Newfound Connections

    By in Stories on

    For a few days in July, over 450 students, small group leaders and volunteers disconnected from their busy worlds and headed to Ocoee, Tennessee for FUSE Camp. This experience has often been described as the “Best Week of Your Life.” It’s a moment where students encounter the love of Christ for the first time or get refreshed and recharged in their pursuit of Him. Connections are formed with God and with each other. Maggie Brown, a rising Senior from Brunswick Early College, took a moment to share how FUSE not only impacted her personally, but how she witnessed a small group of girls, who were once strangers, come together and build lasting friendships.

    Coming from the condensed and small-town atmosphere of Leland, going to FUSE camp with all of the campuses is always an adventure. The hope of being able to meet many new people who live just a river away from you is thrilling. With grand-scale production during worship and the live presence of Pastor Mike, there is much to look forward to as a Leland campus attender.

    IMG_4653I chose to be bold and to go with a new small group of girls I had never met before, and this decision was not regretted. Two of the girls in my small group had never been to FUSE, and one had only just recently started attending PC3 in Wilmington. First meeting these girls on the bus, one of them told me she was not a Christian, and in fact did not believe in a god at all. She told me she was searching for answers in many places, and church was one stop on her list. When she told me this, a burst of recent points Mike had made in his messages throughout the past couple months raced across my head. I said a small prayer for her as I knew the weight of the truth would pressure her this week.

    Upon our arrival was the beautiful view of the mountains. Stepping out of the bus there was an obvious presence of God’s glory around us. The golden sunset that tapped the hills of trees held a stark contrast to “Dirty Myrtle,” the location of FUSE last year. Patterns on leaves and twisting vines spelled out God’s name perfectly. Here again I said another prayer for the girl who I talked to on the bus. There was a Creator and He was speaking to all of us here through His creation.

    Before coming to FUSE, I heard Mike was talking about pressure. I was excited, but had the fear of another church camp concentrated around peer pressure. However, the topic pressure was viewed with a fresh lens as there was a focus set on how pressure can come in many different ways. With this unique and new view on pressure, it created a topic everyone could connect to at some level.

    IMG_4808Talking to many leaders and campers at FUSE, there was one common trend that came up when I asked the questions “Why did you come and what do you hope to get out of the rest of the week?”

    Almost all of the answers were fixated around connections. At FUSE, there is a newfound connection that happens. Whether it be a connection between a small group and their members, students and their leaders, or a camper and God. Ryan Bigg, a rising sophomore from Wilmington said his favorite part of FUSE was the “connection with everyone around us,” and of course, white water rafting. Caroline, a graduate from the Wilmington campus told me, “I like the small group times because you really get to connect with people, and that’s really what matters.”

    11th grader Avery said, “I really love my small group and I’m looking forward to growing in my relationship with them and in my relationship with God.” Rachel, also in 11th grade told me, “I really liked the adventure race when we were all cheering each other. I really loved getting to know the girls in my small group, and making memories.” Each of the students explained a connection they were able to have with those in their small group and with God.

    Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 1.26.12 PMI spoke to Tim Scott, a 7th and 8th grade small group leader from Leland, and he expressed the connection he has with his small group by saying, “I think it’s cool to watch these kids grow and get so excited about it. It really energizes me to be more excited.” Kailyn Johnston, a small group leader of 8th grade girls expressed, “I hope my girls find truths they can take back with them into the real world.” The messages Mike gave this week held foundational truths that were able to be applied and connected to the real world and real struggles, putting God in a better perspective for us to relate to.

    There is one strong statement our church follows: to reach people and help them walk with God. This statement involves two connections. One is the connection between two people, and the other is a connection between a person and God. During FUSE, this statement holds truth as you are connected to others around you and connected to God. Whether you are a middle school boy or a high school girl graduate there is some form of pressure that is faced. Because of the relatable topic of pressure, you seem to be connected with everyone around you. This paves a way for God to come in and work in the lives of everyone at FUSE.

    Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 1.27.46 PMBy the end of the week, the girl from my small group who told me she did not believe in God became a Christian. She shared she wanted to give her life to God and trust Him with everything. When she shared this, I felt honored to be a witness to this moment in her life, and to play a small part. Once she formed relationships between members of our small group, we helped her be able to form a connection with God.

    This blog entry was written by Maggie Brown.

  • 10 Ways to Pray for FUSE Camp 2016

    By in Articles on

    Tomorrow morning over 450 students, small group leaders and adult volunteers, will load up on busses and make the trek to the Ocoee Retreat Center in Ocoee, TN for #FuseCamp16 (July 9th-13th).

    fusetranslogoFUSE is PC3’s summer camp experience for 6th through 12th grade students. It’s a opportunity for middle and high school students to get away from the normal pace of life to experience a relationship with God in a whole new way. But it’s more than just 4 days straight of church…it’s a great way to have a blast with their peers, meet new friends, have amazing adventures, sing their voices hoarse and walk away changed.

    Camp is such a special week in the lives of countless students. As a community, we want to come alongside our youth in prayer. With this in mind, here are 10 specific ways you can join us in covering Fuse Camp in prayer:

    1. Pray for safety while on the road to and from Ocoee, TN and while at camp.
    2. Pray that God would be preparing each student’s heart to be receptive to the message they will hear.
    3. fusesite-107-of-121-1030x687Pray that students who have never heard the Gospel will have an encounter with the love of Christ and put their trust in Him for the first time.
    4. Pray that students who have a relationship with Christ would leave feeling encouraged, challenged and prepared to continue to live out their faith amongst their friends.
    5. Pray that friendships will be formed and community be strengthened so that students would feel free to open up and be vulnerable with one another in small group and around camp.
    6. Pray for Mike Ashcraft who will serve as the camp speaker. Pray he will speak with clarity, boldness and follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.
    7. Pray that the small group leaders will be confident that God has them with their students for a reason. Pray they would pour into their youth and set an example of what authentic faith looks like lived out. Pray for discernment for them when they face questions, difficult situations or challenging circumstances. Pray that the relationships formed at camp will continue once they return home.
    8. fusesite-100-of-121-1030x687Pray that each session would be distraction free so students will be able to focus on the worship and message.
    9. Pray that all of the logistics that come during a week of camp would run smoothly.
    10. Pray for the parents who will care for their students once they return from camp. Pray they will ask critical questions, listen intently and encourage the growth they see. Pray they would see themselves as the one who sets the tone for their household and that they would raise their students up well.

    To follow along with all that is happening at Fuse Camp, follow them on Instagram and Twitter or head over to

  • One Way or Another

    By in Stories on

    For the past six years, Gavin Teet’s life has been defined by determination and faith in the midst of adversity. It all began when Gavin collapsed into his mother’s arms after complaining about a headache. After being rushed to the doctor’s office, an MRI was ordered. It revealed a cyst so large in size that it was causing swelling in his brain. The next morning they arrived at Duke Medical Center where on May 7th, 2010 Gavin had his first brain surgery.

    A staph infection a month later, as well as continued headaches, meant a return trip to Duke and another surgery. During the stay at the hospital, the doctors ordered another MRI which showed Gavin’s cyst was not only back, but larger than before. This time they decided to monitor the cyst to see if it would stay at that size or get larger.

    The cyst continued to grow causing Gavin to have seizures. The doctors had no choice but to conduct another brain surgery in September 2010. It is there, on the operating table, where Gavin suffered a stroke and was in a coma for a week in PICU. When Gavin woke up he was paralyzed on the left side. The effects from the stroke led the medical specialists to conclude that Gavin would be in a rehab facility for a very long time. Gavin had different plans. After only a few short weeks he was back home.

    Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 11.08.26 AMThings were going well until four days before Gavin was supposed to be baptized when he encountered more adversity. The doctors told him they had found a tumor in his brain. Once again, they decided to monitor the tumor. Eventually, doctors allowed Gavin to participate in sports again and he did just that, joining the cross country, basketball and tennis teams at Myrtle Grove Christian School.

    Over time Gavin’s life begin to resemble that of a normal middle schooler, until November 2015 when he faced another roadblock after feeling dizzy and out of balance. He was hospitalized and his symptoms this time confused the doctors. Not until numerous weeks later did an official diagnosis come: Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (of POTS for short), a syndrome that afflicts only 1 in every 3 million individuals.

    Living with POTS means Gavin suffers daily from extreme fatigue and severe memory loss. His pulse can skyrocket and his blood pressure peaks without warning. As a result, Gavin was placed on bed rest, taken out of school and had to stop all extracurricular activities.

    What activity did Gavin miss the most? Being with his friends at Tsunami, Port City’s environment for middle school students. However, Gavin’s connection to Tsunami went deeper than just playing goofy games, socializing with friends or listening to the practical messages. Gavin felt a connection with his small group leader, Scott West. This bond came from Scott walking alongside Gavin during all his medical issues.

    “Scott has been there for Gavin since day one. He was at the hospital showing support. He has stayed in touch with Gavin over these last five and half months more than anyone else. When Gavin didn’t respond because he felt too bad, Scott would text me to see how Gavin was and if there was anything he could do to help,” Jennie Teets, Gavin’s mom, said.

    Yet, it wasn’t only Scott who made a lasting impression on the relationship. Watching Gavin navigate this life-changing experience with strength and resilience stood out to Scott.

    Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 11.07.57 AM“There are not enough words to describe Gavin. Simply, he is incredible. Knowing and watching all that Gavin has dealt with and continues to deal with, I am always amazed and impressed with his strength. This young man has such a strong faith and trust in Jesus. In the now three years I have gotten to know him, I have never seen a single moment of doubt. He has often told me (and many others) that with all he is dealing with, Jesus has a plan. His maturity at such a young age is something you don’t see very often. He’s strong, compassionate, resilient, faithful, positive and determined. It seems like every time he turns around there is something else going against him that he has to deal with. But, each time it seems to move him closer and closer to Jesus. It would be so easy for him to become self-absorbed, but Gavin wants to know how others are doing and how he can help,” Scott said.

    Since Gavin attending Tsunami wasn’t a possibility, Scott began to wonder: how can we ensure Gavin still stays connected and engaged to his community? After talking it over with his co-leaders, Daniel and Garrett, a crazy, out-of-the-box idea was hatched – if Gavin can’t come to Tsunami, then Tsunami will come to Gavin. Along with the help of Matthew Berry (PC3 staff) and Jacob Turner (student ministry production volunteer), Tsunami On The Road became a reality.

    Instead of heading to Studio3 on a Wednesday night, Gavin’s small group showed up at his doorstop. The Tsunami service for that week was streamed live online. All the materials were provided so the students could participate in the large group game as well as small group discussion. In the midst of the pizza, doughnuts, fun and community, a special moment was had by all.

    “The first time we had small group at my house I almost called and cancelled because Gavin was extremely dizzy. Gavin begged me not to cancel so I didn’t and I was so thankful afterwards that I didn’t. It warmed my heart to see Gavin’s friends come to the house and show their support for him. It was also so nice that the parents would come in when dropping their kids off and check on Gavin to see how he was doing,” Jennie said.

    Tsunami On The Road made one more appearance and that was on Impact Weekend which is a local missions retreat PC3’s student ministry created. The same creativity was used so that Gavin could participate in this event a reality. The group of guys descended o1209151851n to Gavin’s house for an overnight visit. The next morning this small group of 8th graders served their city by making meals and cookies for Meals on Wheels and delivering them to those in need, This less physically demanding activity was perfect for Gavin who was able to participate in the entire project.

    Terrible circumstances brought this group closer together. A bond was forged through these experiences. As this school year comes to a conclusion, and these young men take the next step to high school, it is evident to all where the camaraderie and closeness has come from.

    “Gavin and his story have definitely been a catalyst for conversations that the guys have had, either by curiosity or necessity. The conversations are unlike any that I recall having to have when I was a twelve year old. These young men have had real conversations about very serious and sometimes uncomfortable topic. It has lead many of them to think and pray for things more significant than just ‘the test I have tomorrow.’ The fact that Gavin has always been so willing to share his story has allowed the other young men in our group to know the impact of Jesus beyond anything I ever knew at my age,” Scott said.

    While still dealing with POTS, Gavin remains his typical optimistic self.

    “Gavin’s strength never waivers. I’ve asked him throughout these past five months, ‘aren’t you tired of this? Do you ever get frustrated with what you are going through?’ Gavin’s response is always, ‘If this is what God has planned for me at this point and time, who am I to question it? I know God has a plan for my life and one way or another, I’ll be okay,’” Jennie said.


  • My Kids Aren’t Crazy

    By in Articles on

    As I move along in life I am continually reminded of the fact that I need help. In so many ways … I need help. Nowhere is this more evident to me than in my parenting. As our kids grow we are literally going through new experiences each and every day. Middle schoolers and their attitudes are so different than elementary schoolers and their emotions (at least mine are). High school is looming for us and we know that there is so much to navigate and figure out … and we need help!

    12356869_339629172827629_651517422709360232_oMy wife and I have recently been meeting with some friends every month or so just to talk about our parenting and encourage one another. It’s been great to hear how other parents deal with similar situations and know that we have partners in this journey that we’re all on. I’ve been encouraged to keep doing what we’re doing in some areas and try something new in others.

    I’ve learned that my kids aren’t that crazy in what they sometimes say and do and my thought process isn’t always off the reservation. I’ve been reminded that life is best lived in community and we all need to lean in and help each other.

    I’ve also had the privileged of meeting with a few groups of parents lately and hear stories and struggles that are real. As I sat in a room with one group talking about difficult circumstances and situations, one mom said, “By coming here just a little bit of weight is being taken off my shoulders.”

    This particular group of parents (who didn’t know each other walking in) spent over an hour helping and encouraging each other in a real and powerful way. One of them said, “It feels like it sometime, but I have to remind myself daily that I am not alone.”

    That’s what the PC3 Parent Network is all about. Our mission to “equip and encourage parents to help their family walk with God” is something we are taking seriously. We’ve spent a few months doing some things behind the scenes and we’re excited about some next steps that are coming soon.

    We’ll gather again on Thursday, June 2nd at 6:30pm at the Wilmington campus (REGISTER HERE) to have another conversation about “parenting through the phases.” During this evening together, we will learn some new insight about raising these things we call children.

    There will be time to chat with other parents and be challenged and encouraged in our parenting. We really are excited about what God is doing in our midst and we invite you to be on the journey with us. Let’s face it, we all need help!

    -Chris Sasser, Director of Family Ministries

    Follow the PC3 Parent Network on Facebook.

  • When 20,000 Stories Collided

    By in Stories on

    As our newest campus PC3 Jacksonville continues to grow, staff and key volunteers have been praying and considering what it would look like to create environments for everyone. Knowing that teenagers are not the future church, but a key part of the church right here, right now, they began taking steps to develop a ministry environment for middle and high school students.

    Erin Beil has headed up this venture. In today’s story, Erin shares her experience of bring the youth to Winter Jam and how God used time in a van, a fast food restaurant and listening to music to bring this group closer together.

    The newest PC3 campus in Jacksonville started middle school and high school ministries two months ago and a night of Christian concerts, Winter Jam in Raleigh, was on our schedule since before it began. Amazingly, twenty people were interested in spending twelve hours together! Our young, getting-to-know-each-other group was willing to pack into vans for over five of those hours and parents were willing to pick them up at 2 am when we’d arrive home. Awesome! This was going to happen.

    The week of the trip, I prayed a lot! God, work out all the details, give me wisdom to lead this group, show me what I need to do to prepare. My prayers started off composed, then morphed into a cry of the heart- just don’t let me lose anyone! I am not a thorough planner, especially when it comes to trips. My positivity and “it will all work out” mindset results in making decisions on the go and hoping for the best. I like to think it’s my mature faith that stands on God’s provision, however, it’s most likely my immature desire to plan. The responsibility for these students seemed great, so I tried my best to prepare.

    PC3 Jax Winterjam 2016 van-1Thoughts, concerns, and prayers, cycled through my mind like an endless load of laundry. How can I prevent losing someone? I really hope we don’t lose anyone. God- please don’t let me lose anyone! And then onto the next topic cycle. What in the world did leaders do before their students had cell phones? My plan included exchanging numbers first thing, meeting at Wendy’s a few blocks from the arena (in case our vans lost each other), and everyone would eat there. Kids fed- check! Togetherness- check!

    At Wendy’s, rumors reached our group. People had been waiting in line for over 45 minutes. Here we were, fingers covered in salt, lips in ketchup, and lines were forming and just getting longer. A new cycle began… I didn’t even think about how we would sit together! What if the line is too long? The sections will fill up before we get in! I can’t have three students in the nose bleeds, four in the East section, three in the West… we’re not trying to surround the place, we need to sit together and bond. OK, Godwork out the details.

    And He did! His provision and attention to detail was incredible. Every situation had the best possible outcome. He handed me a platter with a close parking spot, a short line, and two empty rows in a great section. As if to say, I know you couldn’t plan for everything, so here you are. Enjoy! I relaxed, grateful and ready for the concert to start (and with every student and leader accounted for!).

    Between two of the bands, a speaker mentioned how 20,000 stories collided that night. 20,000 of us ended up there, in the same arena, to worship One God, One King. God worked out the details for 20,000 individuals. We overcame schedule conflicts, worry, ‘planning,’ and ride arrangements to celebrate and worship Jesus.

    PC3 Jax Winterjam 2016Greater still, God was beautifully woven throughout 20,000 unique lives. The Author of every detail brought each life story to share in this one night. My story differs from everyone’s in that arena. The students and leaders to the left and right of me all have their own relationship with God, they have different journeys, backgrounds, and interests. We left very different family situations, were raised all over the world, and yet, we intersected at this concert.

    The freedom of the Holy Spirit filled the air as the energy rose from song to song. Worries dissipated from the outside world. We were free to be ourselves, free to sing ‘God Bless America,’ and united under the One True King, Jesus. The message of hope resounded after each story and song. Lyrics surrounded us with reminders of our identity as children of the risen King, God rights our wrongs and gives us His life, and regardless of what we’ve done, God’s grace wins every time.

    Our varying taste in music did not matter. Every genre was represented, allowing God’s Word to connect with each individual. The message of God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice was spoken between artists, sung softly, rapped, and even screamed while flames shot up from the stage, its warmth reaching our seats.

    Everything communicated that God’s church is alive and His people are actively used to influence the nation and world. It’s a different story than what is shared on the news. Yes, tragically, Christians are being persecuted, but there is still hope. There is God’s love and provision. An awakening of hearts are leaping into action for Jesus and His people. The church is spreading the message of Christ all over the world and our young student ministries group is the next generation of hope-givers, church-advancers, and love-messengers.

    20,000 came that night. Some on their own accord, others were persuaded, but all were made in God’s image and are His children. The Great Creator of the Universe arranged the tiny details of 20,000 lives to hear and celebrate His unconditional love and amazing grace. We each related to Him personally and with a packed arena.

    That’s our God. He is incredibly gracious, even when we don’t prepare for everything. He is transcendent, connecting with His children uniquely and personally. He weaves our stories together giving us endless opportunities to experience His love.

    That night was beautiful and powerful, just like Jesus.

    After reading this story, we encourage you to pray for the growth, health and influence of PC3 Jacksonville’s Student Ministry. To keep up to date about what is taking place at our PC3 Jacksonville campus, follow them on Facebook