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The Doors of Winterfest
by PEDRO PEREZ
February 26, 2014

Starting late February 12, Winter Storm Pax worked its way up the northeast into the morning of February 14. By the time it was all over, our area was covered in over 20 inches of snow. The early morning hours of Valentine’s Day found many of us shoveling our cars out and maneuvering through unplowed roads...with the goal of getting our students to Winterfest 2014. What started out in 1982 with two youth groups in Tennessee; today Winterfest has become an annual event drawing teens to conference venues all over the United States.
Winterfest 2014 Group
Our Youth Pastors Sean and Andrea Davis led a group of 22 students and 8 chaperones from Solid Rock to Rochester, NY to join over 2,300 teens from the northeast for a weekend experience in the Lord. Once we were settled into our rooms, each chaperone/room leader briefed their students on the schedule for the weekend and prepared for the service that evening.

Friday, February 14: Open the Door
The evening began with praise and worship led by Christian artists such as Kadence, B-Les, 4 Trinity (4T) and Curtis Bridgeman. We also got to meet these artists at their booths after service and I have to say that I have yet to meet a group of more humble artists like these. Our kick-off speaker was Reggie Dabbs who blew us all away with an amazing performance on the soprano sax before speaking to the youth. With his blend of humor and “keeping it real” style, Reggie read from Revelation 3:20 as he presented the theme Open the Door! “You can’t hide from Jesus when he comes knockin’,” Reggie explained, “will you be ashamed at what He will find? Jesus is at your door saying ‘let me in’...will you open?” Romans 10:9 reads, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” God gives us grace...it is up to you how you use it.

Saturday, February 15: Shut that Door
The morning service kept the momentum going with more engaging performances by Kadence, Curtis Bridgeman, and the NJ Youth Choir. Speaker J.C. Worley called the youth to action by reminding them that when you accept Jesus into your life (conversion) you can reside with him spiritually, but physically we are to spread his message to others. Pastor Worley said, “God doesn’t call us to be saved and then do nothing...the testimony of our conversion is to be shared.”

Afterwards we spent the afternoon enjoying pizza and wings while we tested our bowling skills (and an extreme hot sauce challenge of course...hats off to Shaneel and Jaida!) to provide time for us to unwind before getting ready for the evening service.

The evening gave us the pleasure of hearing Rev. William A. Lee (who recently spoke at our church back in January) whose theme Shut that Door! seemed to conflict with Reggie Dabbs’ message the night before. However, reading from Genesis 4 and focusing on verse 7, Rev. Lee explained, “...sin is crouching at your door”. While Reggie focused on opening your door to Jesus, Rev. Lee focused on those “doors” we keep open that allow evil things like anger, jealously, gossip, envy, and hatred to enter our lives. Rev Lee stated, “When you give God your best, He becomes the owner of your house (your life) and becomes the one who decides who enters and exits.” The service concluded with music by Tedashii whose hip hop lyrics kept our students celebrating at the stage well into the night.

Sunday, February 16: Protect Your Door
The weekend came to a close with a message by Nicole C. Mullen . Reading from Exodus 12 she spoke about the first Passover and how death passed over the houses whose doors were marked by the blood of the sacrifice. “Has the blood of Jesus been applied to the door posts of your heart?” she asked. “Knowing about Christ is not the same as knowing Christ!” she stated. “Only when we spend time with Christ do we start to think like Him, walk like Him, and talk like Him.”

During the weekend, we had the opportunity to get to know the students better during our discussions in our rooms and ministering to them during the altar calls after each service. As a chaperone, I was able to interact one-on-one with an age group that was not on my radar at all. In speaking with them, joking with them, correcting them, praying with (and over) them...I realized how important this age group really is. As a father, I didn’t have to wait for my son Marcos to come home to tell me how did it go or what he experienced...I was there to witness it and be able to hug my son at the altar as he wept on my shoulder. Words were not necessary.

There is an opportunity here for any of us to help our Youth Ministry model what a Godly man or woman is and to instruct them on how to respond to God. Help us make a difference in the lives of our young people. Winterfest was an eye opening experience! See our Photo Gallery>>