All right, let's get to it. Last week, I took a short hiatus from my blog in order to attend the IFCA Youth Convention. This convention plays host to Christians from all over the nation, from my home state of Washington to West Virginia, where this year's convention was held, at Appalachian Bible College. ABC was also the place where my first IFCA Youth Convention was held, some five years ago. There, people gather to attend classes, listen to sermons, engage in Ministry Training Areas, participate in Bible Quizzing, partake in sporting events, and to worship. I covered MTA's in a previous post, but I'll say here again that it includes everything from music to preaching. There was also puppetry, drama, and a whole host of others. But let's start from the beginning.
We departed Seattle on a Saturday night, flying to Cincinnati. From there, we drove via rental car to Appalachian Bible College. We usual spend a few days getting from where we landed to the destination, stopping at an amusement park or something along the way (in my first year, it was King's Island, last year it was the Creation Museum), but not this year. Due to costs, we drove nonstop over the course of a single day. The five-odd hour journey wasn't exactly grueling, but the heat combined with the minor monotony was something to behold. When we finally arrived at ABC, we checked in and lugged our comparatively sparse luggage (costs meant that we could only take carry on luggage, plus a communal luggage bag) to the dorm rooms. I stayed with my dear old dad, who had also come, at McCarrell Hall, where the majority of the male population of the convention attendees were quartered.
Throughout the following week, I attended classes taught by Richard Stepanek, listened to evening sessions where Freddie Coile gave sermons, quizzed my heart out in practice, tournament, and "fun" quizzing, and did my preaching MTA. Now would probably be a good time to mention that the convention's main theme was being prepared to proclaim the gospel. I examined the convention's theme verse, Ephesians 6:15, yesterday in Bible Verse Sunday #30, which had a simple enough message to it, but it was greatly expanded upon by Mr. Coile's sermons. He even hosted an evangelism class at the convention, but unfortunately I missed the third session of his which I would believe dealt with the method part of evangelizing in order to attend a class on using one's gift of writing in the church. I've read up on evangelism techniques, but I feel, like I'm sure many young Christians do, ill-prepared to share my faith. I've read Way of the Master by Ray Comfort, as well as learning back at Regionals about how to ascertain a person's spiritual state, but I still feel only partly prepared. I hope to remedy this problem in the future.
At any rate, most of the classes were informative, aside from one guy's somewhat strange views on rock music, and the main speaker, Mr. Freddie Coile, was engaging and powerful. My only beef with him was that even though he drove home the core tenants of Christianity for me, he didn't really give me any practical instruction on sharing my faith. On the other hand, he may well have covered that at one of his classes, but I'd have to ask. If you were at the convention and know if he did so at one of his classes, comment below and let me know.
The main event at the convention for me, was, of course, Bible Quizzing. My team participated in the the Senior division, in a double elimination tournament. We were quickly eliminated, but we only went down after a climactic battle with my dear friends over at Independent Bible Church, who had won Nationals in both divisions last year, beating out even Alderwood to win the prize. They didn't win this year, but they still did pretty good. The honor of victory in the Senior division goes to the team known as Grace - Ohio (I don't know their church's full name), a three man team hailing from Michigan who emerged as the once-defeated-champions of the tournament. Victory in the Novice division went handily to Alderwood, who went undefeated. They also placed third in the Senior division. I'm not sure where we Highlanders placed, but it was probably near the bottom of the list of the sixteen teams that were in the Senior tournament.
During this convention, I attempted to do the Fred Emery Quoting Challenge, a challenge wherein the quoter attempts to quote all of their material within 45 minutes with a maximum of 12 helps. I had been practicing all year with my quoting partner, Mrs. Lickey, but all of my preparation came to naught. Sure, I tried and worked hard, but I just don't think I have the raw talent or even the huge work ethic required to beat the challenge and win the scholarship that goes with it. I got to 1 Thessalonians 2 before my time ran out. On the other hand, I did manage to get a Division 1 in my sermon, which, though not perfect, was still good enough to earn me some kind of scholarship. As soon as I get the video back from Mr. Wendt, I will post my recorded sermon on Facebook, along with all of the pictures I took of my trip.
During my time at the convention, I did some socializing with my friends, namely Abel and Alex, hailing from Faith Bible Church in Montana and Church of the Open Door in Kansas, respectfully. Abel is a quizzer and Alex is a puppeteer. I also wanted to compete in the soccer tournament, but my team only had two people on it, including me, and the tournament was cancelled anyway due to the field being too wet. I thusly sought to pursue indoor activities, such as attending classes or playing Star Wars Miniatures. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish a full game a miniatures. I started two games with two similar groups of people, and finished neither. I really wish I could have finished those games, and that I had taught certain people the workings of the game. That would have been a lot more fun. But, what's done is done, or rather, what's not done is not done.
Finally, after a huge, student led worship service on our final night there, we departed last Saturday in the reverse manner that we had arrived in; drive by rental car to Cincinnati, where we arrived just in time to grab some food before boarding our flight. From there, we flew to Salt Lake City, had dinner and picked up a souvenir shirt for my sister Naomi (she's really into giving gifts, so my dad figured we ought to get her something), and then boarded a flight home. We finally arrived at around 11:00 PM, after which we went home. It had been a pretty good week, but all good things must come to an end. By this logic, I suppose that all mediocre things must come to an end as well. I'll admit, the trip wasn't bad, and was actually better than most of my past nationals, but I wouldn't have minded if some things had been different. But I digress. After all, there's always next year...