Instead of chocolates and flowers, Briercrest College and Seminary gave something a little extra this past Valentine’s Day.
They opened their doors to about 2,000 people during their 51st YouthQuake (YQ) event to share the Word of Christ and see lives changed.
“We are extremely thrilled. We think the weekend went over wonderfully and extremely smooth. We are really, really happy with both the execution of how the organization went, about how many people showed up, and how our guests performed and spoke and ministered with us,” AJ Crocker, director of YouthQuake, explained.
“The fruit of the weekend is starting to show itself with the great feedback we are getting and we couldn’t be happier for the level of work that happened in the lives of the teenagers there.”
The event, which ran from February 14th to 16th, brought together youth from across Canada and the United States to explore this year’s theme of Kingdom Citizens, centered on Matthew 6:33.
“As followers of Christ, we are citizens in His household; we have a responsibility to be active citizens engaging our world as the Kingdom of God breaks into our present reality all around us,” organizers explained in their handbook.
“It is not enough to just subscribe to Jesus and receive. We must be active citizens advancing His kingdom and playing our unique role to honour the king.”
Monique Caplette, a youth who attended the event from Moose Jaw, said her time at YQ was amazing.
“My experience was really good. I enjoyed the people and how we didn't have to follow a guideline throughout the whole thing. I also enjoyed the many different things we could do like watch hockey, ride the mechanical bull and go to the concerts,” Caplette said.
“I would come again because I made a bunch of new friends and experienced what it's like to live in dorms. I met a few kids from the college and they seem really nice, so that is also a main reason I enjoyed it at YouthQuake. I suggest going to it because it is an experience of a lifetime. People there are awesome and it is really fun and it is only a weekend long event, so it doesn't hurt to try it out.”
Tyson Caplette, a youth attending for his first time, agreed.
“It has been one of the best times of my life,” he said. “I would definitely come back next year.”
One of the highlights was Mark Clark, a pastor at Village Church in Surrey, British Columbia and the main speaker at the event.
“I talked to my youth and the major consensus is they really liked what the speaker had to say and enjoyed the perspective he had and the fact that he was really straight forward about where they need to be with the Lord,” Travis Johnston, a youth leader from Assiniboia, Sask., explained.
Clark spent the weekend encouraging youth to live a radical life for Jesus and exploring what it means to be a kingdom citizen during the four main breakout sessions.
“What I want for you to feel from this weekend is the cost of the kingdom citizenship and as you go from here that you come to a place where you say, ‘I am not worthy’ and you give your life to Jesus,” Clark said during the last main session of YQ.
“We are not just talking about (God) in this moment … kingdom citizenship is about legacy and I want you to build a good legacy built on Jesus and not religion. I want you to think about, ‘how I build a legacy into the world, a gospel-centred legacy focused on the Trinitarian power focused on Jesus.’”
Kent Martens, a youth pastor from Steinbach, Manitoba and former Briercrest student, said it is the great breakout sessions like Clark’s that keeps bringing him back with youth after 20 years of attendance.
“I’m a youth pastor and one of the reasons we keep coming back is the passionate Bible teaching in the four main sessions; it’s been reliably good over the years,” he said.
Crocker agreed and said Clark’s blunt speaking convicted, yet encouraged many youth over the weekend.
“I think with Mark we got a speaker who was thoroughly in the Word the entire time, which is a high value for Briercrest and high value for YouthQuake. We want to be learning from the Word of God and someone who God is speaking through. So that was awesome,” he said.
“Mark has this really blunt and matter-of-fact way of speaking straight to the human experience, which resonates with everyone. We didn’t have a speaker who just targeted high school students. We ended up with a guy who could communicate across the generations.”
Beyond the youth, the guest speakers and performers also enjoyed their time.
“I get to travel and speak for a living, so I do this a lot and I say that only because sometimes you go into conferences and you can see a difference between a well run conference and one that is not as well run. And honestly with YQ the second they picked me up from the airport they were on the ball, very professional behind the scenes and very organized,” Mike Gordon, guest speaker at YQ, said.
“So my overall experience has been awesome and this is a professional conference. It is a fun, hyped up event with bands and all that great stuff, so you have that entertainment aspect, but you know YouthQuake doesn’t do this just for entertainment. They want people to learn, they want people to walk away with something.”
Peterpot, beatbox artist and guest performer, agreed.
“This year was amazing and my experience here has been phenomenal. YQ has been going on for over 50 years so that says a lot. They put a lot of effort into it and you can tell because everyone is so happy and having a great time,” he said.
“They do a really good job, so I would encourage performers or students or anyone to just come and check out YQ.”
Crocker said he is grateful for the army of people he had behind him in making this year’s YQ possible and looks forward to making YQ 2015 just as memorable for youth.
“From the custodial to the tech people to our food employees to our events team to communications to every department which focuses on YQ the month before, those departments are what really carries this event and so I thank them and everyone who made this event possible.”.