WOAH. Dear readers, even now, over 24 hours later, I cannot contain my joy. I know I have written on this blog many times (e.g. here and here) having just finished at a Youth 2000 retreat, overwhelmed with joy and praise at what God has done. And this new year’s retreat was no different. How can you capture in a few words the freedom, peace, joy and contentment that comes from being filled with God’s completely-satisfying love and that forms us into a new family? We experienced what God became a tiny Child for, what he died on the Cross for – to transform us into new creations and create a communion among us that we could never create ourselves. It does not get ANY better than this! Today, Facebook is overflowing with statuses wishing we could turn back time and surround Jesus in the Eucharist again with our songs of praise. I think we tasted just a crumb of the glory that awaits us in Heaven…
Some of my personal highlights:
The joyful and untiring ministry of our priests… Many young people today are heavily burdened, are suffering deeply, and have a lot of brokenness in their hearts. There is so much damage that the devil does in young hearts through our broken culture and I know that Jesus wants to pour his grace out upon these young people. I saw this happening – through the whole retreat – through the priests. They heard hours and hours of Confessions, spent hours talking and praying with young people, no sooner had one young person left with a heavy burden lifted than the next one arrived. I saw – incredibly tangibly – the ministry of Jesus active in his priests. It made me realise with more urgency: we need more priests! Priests faithful to God and faithful to people; who are unconditionally surrendered to the Holy Spirit, and who understand deeply the joys and struggles of young people today.
Our inspiring, outstanding, star-studded team… I couldn’t get over how much God blessed us with our team this year. From the first day, when a group of new MCs (the people who lead the prayer in the retreat) arrived early for training before the retreat started, we were surrounded by a truly talented team of young leaders in love with Christ. A couple of times I looked around and thought God has given Youth 2000 the very best young leaders and musicians in the country 🙂 How generous he is… We are so immensely challenged by resources, and yet he sends the very best people. And what a great joy and privilege it is to work with them. I love you guys!
The endless praise! The greatest thing to do, when you are completely exhausted (as I was a couple of times during the retreat), is to praise God anyway. Truly, I think we could have kept going all night… How beautiful it is to praise Jesus.
Effective youth ministry really has a very simple recipe 🙂 The conversions that have happened over one weekend are countless… it works! Photos to come… In the meantime, one of the theme songs of the retreat: