Love is Red 2016
I look out and see black worshipping next to white, worshipping next to Mexican, next to Hispanic, next to Native American, and the only color that matters is red because that’s the blood of Jesus!
–John Gray, Love is Red 2016 speaker
I realize that the normal person would probably grit their teeth and prepare for teenage drama and eye rolls when confronted with the thought of a church auditorium filled with literally thousands of middle and high school students. I, on the other hand, throw on my new Rock City Youth tee, pull out my favorite pair of Converse shoes and post to Instagram that even packing has me #RedBullexcited for the weekend.
Love is Red (LIR) is a Youth and Young Adult conference in Canton, Ohio with the vision of “developing leaders and inspiring students to know God and to make Him known.” One of the greatest parts about this particular conference is that they host breakout sessions not only for students, but for leaders as well! It is purposely designed each year to run Thursday-Saturday because the organizers knew from the beginning that Youth Pastors and Leaders are at church on Sunday! This way, students get to miss a day of school and leaders can be back for church on Sunday! [side note: It is a fact that most Rock City Youth students, although glad to be out of school for a day, were actually pretty concerned about missing a day of classes! World changers, man.]
In three short days, we experienced 6 world-renown preachers and spent hours worshipping God alongside our peers, led by some of the biggest names in worship music, Elevation Worship and Jesus Culture!
I could spend this entire post trying to impart to you every motivational sound bite from all 6 preachers, but I have a feeling that I wouldn’t be quite as inspirational as they were in the moment. Instead, I want to highlight a few shining moments from the weekend and share with you how God spoke to me.
Two phrases that I am folding up and tucking in my heart forever from Love is Red are
If you want to see God do amazing things in your ministry, you must hold tight to obedience – Noah Nickel
Souls are at stake here. – John Gray
Anyone that knows me knows that I do not take kindly to hearing the word “No.” (Future husband – consider yourself warned.) Growing up, I was used to getting my way pretty much all the time and if I didn’t get my way at first, I had this INSANE power to exhaust my parents with my debate skills to the point that they would rather just give in than argue for one more minute about why, for example, taking my mom’s shiny, red convertible to the drive-in movie just wasn’t a good idea.
Well, God knows my weaknesses and He knows that I need to learn how to hear “No.” The mission field is ripe with “No.”
- “No, I am not interested in hearing about your ‘best friend’ Jesus.”
- “No, the church doesn’t have enough money to provide for that family’s need.”
- “No, it’s not a good day to go to the beach today.” (Is it bad that that No is the hardest to accept? Just kidding. Really!)
Over the past 3 months, God has put me in Obedience Bootcamp. I am asking for things and God is saying “No.”
- “No, you can’t go to San Salvador…yet.”
- “No, you can’t live in your house OR your dad’s house.”
- “No, you can’t be in a dating relationship right now.”
What I am learning is that God says No for a reason. He does not say No just to taunt me or be mean to me. God says No because He can see the future. He is already in the future. I know that I must be obedient to God if I want to move to San Salvador and be a part of what He is doing there.
Souls are at stake. Wow. First of all, let me say that I fully understand and believe that God does NOT need me to save a person’s soul. God may choose to use me, but He does not need me. God is in the business of soul-saving, not me. With that being said, I do not want to stand in front of Jesus on judgment day and have to say, “Father, I am sorry that I did tell ________ about you because I was busy ________ (being disobedient).” I know that there are people in this world that God wants to use me to reach. There are people that will identify with my story and finally understand that if God has mercy and forgiveness for me, He’s got it for them too. There are people that will trust me with their story and trust me when I tell them just how much Jesus loves them – enough to die on a cross in order to erase their sin from God’s memory.
Is there anything worth risking missing the opportunity to be used by God and a part of His salvation plan? Absolutely not, if it means being disobedient to a God that I trust with my life now and for the rest of my days.
Of course, Love is Red wasn’t just for me. Love is Red was for each individual person there. Love is Red was for:
- Jin, our OSU bus driver who randomly picked our assignment for the weekend and ended up coming into the conference and rededicating his life to Jesus!
- Pastor Amanda, who was picked out of an audience of thousands and told by Pastor John Gray that she would see “supernatural increase” in her house in the next 30 days!
- The EIGHT Rock City Youth students who boldly walked to the stage when people called into ministry were requested down front!
- The hotel room full of Rock City Middle School boys who, without being told to, prayed over their friend who felt called into ministry!
When God said No to my big, bold prayer to move to San Salvador in December 2015, He wasn’t saying No to hurt me. He was saying No to things I had planned because He knew that the things HE had planned were so much greater.
Olivia Shank’s first response to my departure delay was, “This means you get to go to Love is Red, right?!” Thank God she was right.