Thousands encounter God at Newday in Norfolk
This week 6,700 mostly young people have descended on the Royal Norfolk Showground to encounter God at the Newday festival. Helen Baldry reports.
Newday is a Christian event aimed at young people aged 12-19. The purpose is for them to meet with God, each other and to enjoy a fun, action-packed week. The event has been running for eight years, the last three in Norfolk, and has increased in scale and momentum each year with over 6,700 attending this year including 4,000 young people.
Owen Hylton heads up pastoral care at Newday. He said, “Newday gathers thousands of young people from a wide variety of backgrounds. They come from every conceivable area; rural villages, suburban housing estates and urban flats all together in one place.
“This event builds their faith and passion for Jesus. For many it is a totally new experience; they have never been anywhere like this before.”
Owen said what is remarkable is the leaders’ passion for Jesus which drives them to serve and lead. Numerous volunteers take time out from work to serve year after year. Since the event has been held in Norfolk there has been a huge increase in the number of churches going.
Newday is organised by New Frontiers and Owen said there is incredible support from all denominations of churches in Norfolk. In these financially tough times, people are still choosing to come.
Groups from Holland, Czech Republic and even as far afield as Kenya come and join forces with a local church to share tents and catering facilities.
There are an increasing number of day visitors - last year there were 750, many of whom liked what they saw so decided to camp this year.
Age-appropriate seminars take place each day covering topics including science & the Bible, abortion, identity, dating and how to thrive at uni.
Other activities include an ice rink, bouncy castle, skatepark, climbing wall and creative arts such as drama, songwriting, prophetic art and dance.
The Pink Bar houses the pamper lounge where those missing home comforts can use hair straighteners, have their nails done or enjoy a massage. This appeared to be full of boys!... but perhaps they were on their way to The Gents which is somewhere to relax, charge your phone and get your PS3 fix.
There was a lull in the late afternoon while people returned to their tents to eat. Impromptu water fights broke out at the taps, some people snatched forty winks in the sunshine or struck up volleyball games between the tents.
Evening meetings are eagerly anticipated at Newday and are approached with the expectation that God will speak; on Tuesday people streamed into the Big Top to hear Julian Adams speak on Galatians 6 and the freedom that comes when we become a new creation in Jesus. He encouraged us to be joyful and receive the blessings God has to give, “The Christian faith isn’t pie in the sky ‘til you die, you get steak on the plate while you wait!”
The Big Top was alive with young people dancing, jumping, laughing and putting their hearts into worship. Hundreds of people responded to the message and a ministry team was on hand to pray and talk with people.
While young people learn about themselves and their own faith at Newday, the focus is very much outward-looking; on relationships with others, communities and issues in the wider world. An offering is taken on the last night and everybody is encouraged to think about how to contribute to this.
Organisers envisage that Newday will keep on growing; there is scope for thousands more people on site, a positive and peaceful environment and for many, Newday is the start of a new relationship with God.