Norfolk Christian youth event stirs crowd
Newday on the Road brought very loud music, old-fashioned praise and preaching to an excited audience of 200 youngsters at the King’s Centre in Norwich recently.
Tim Hughes reports
‘What are you all sitting down for?’ Music leader Evan Rogers’ opening line pretty much set the tone for Newday on the Road.
200 young people from around Norwich gathered at the King’s Centre for a night of old fashioned praise, preaching and music, but - as one middle aged man fleeing the soundcheck remarked – with the volume up “loud. Really very loud.”
The night gave local young people a flavour of this year’s Newday Christian youth festival. From the 1st to 6th August 2011 between 5,000 and 6,000 young people aged 12-19 will be gathering for a week’s camping at the Norfolk Showground for meetings with worship and teaching, sports, social activities, music, gigs, and much more. Several thousand will go out to work on community projects from Thetford to Aylsham to Catton Grove.
That’s quite an agenda to represent, but the event was up to the task, challenging us to action from start to finish. To start, it was African grooves and the odd splash of early 90s rave that ensured ‘everybody in the church is dancing’ in praise to Jesus (some on the stage). One lad described it as “typical Evan, only louder and better”.
Next, fast-talking Stef Liston from North London stepped up to talk about how Jesus takes the most unlikely people and uses them to be God’s witnesses to the ends of the earth. He shared his own story, going without warning from ‘idiot teenager’ to ‘Bible smuggler’ when he was ambushed by the Holy Spirit on a Christian holiday. We finished by praying for young people who felt stirred to live big dreams with Jesus, and for several who He was challenging to follow him for the first time.
I don’t know much about Hip Hop, but the 29th Chapter
could make a fan of me yet. Their ‘school of hip hop’ skit taught me some basic moves, and their meaty passion got my fist pumping in the air on several occasions. A pumping blend of contemporary pop sounds support incisive lyrics like “teenage boys labelled with a ‘death-by’ date”, and sweetened with plenty of sharp onstage banter (when the crowd went crazy for free copies of their single, one remarked with a smile, ‘if you’re that excited why don’t you download it?’)
I found it remarkable how all the elements combined towards (as 29th put it) “giving hope to young people, and giving them high aims”. There was a healthy, un-english determination to ‘get strong’, to fight for a better world with Jesus. It made me reflect that this is not just what our church needs to hear, but our whole society. One of those who committed their lives to following Jesus said, “I feel like I want to cry. He was saying ‘what are you living for? What is your life about?’ I want my life to count.” I’m right with you.