Imaginations run riot at Wildlife club
Hundreds of youngsters took over the Hollywood Cinema in Norwich
for a Christian music event, Imagine ’06
run by Mount Zion’s Wildlife
youth club. Tonie Spencer
Norwich’s Hollywood Cinema is not the sort of place you'd expect to find much action, except perhaps in the form of the latest action-thriller film.
However, on November 17, the cinema took on a new role for one night only. Anglia Square is probably the last place you'd think of hosting such an event, so expecting to find the place half empty, I arrive to find over 60 people gathered outside its doors with more arriving by the mini-bus load. James Bond may be showing in a screen nearby, but Imagine '06 was about to take over.
What struck me upon entering was: how many people there were; what a great atmosphere there was and; how lovely everybody was. With it being a youth event aimed primarily at the 13 - 18 age bracket, I was under the impression that I'd probably stick out like a sore thumb; however this was not the case.
Opening with comedy duo Tim and Phil
from The Revelation
, four young people (two boys and two girls) were invited to do what most young people do best - guzzle fizzy drinks and eat chocolate; as much of it as they could within one minute. It's actually harder than you might think! Not to worry though, as all four volunteers go home with a little something in the form of a baseball cap.
Next up was The Wildlife Band - exactly how many people can be crammed onto the stage? Despite my misgivings, the band gave it all they've got, with hook-laden brilliance and melodic, high-flown harmonies. The crowd’s reaction is almost instantaneous and rather like what you'd expect from the average rock concert - almost everybody was up on their feet and having fun - and why shouldn't they? After all, if being a part of God's family isn't something to sing and dance about, I don't know what is!
Before guest speaker Andy Hawthorne takes to the stage, a young man gives his testimony - and his message is a simple yet powerful one - God heals; God heals physically as he had done in the young man's life, but also spiritually.
Andy Hawthorne, from The Message Trust
- an organisation that focuses its attentions on the youth of Greater Manchester - also offered a simple message; that the youth are at its heart, particularly with Hope 2008: an opportunity for all Christian denominations, charities and youth groups to work together in events held across the whole of the UK throughout 2008. The Message Trust believes that God loves the young; the youth are right at the very heart of The Message Trust and its work.
Unknown to me until now was that US singer and American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson is a Christian. Andy talked about how he had taken a friend's daughter to see Kelly Clarkson in concert, and was also given the chance to meet and greet the star after the show. This little girl - who was also celebrating her birthday on the day of the show - as well as looking up to Miss Clarkson, also looked up to Andy; he had done something special just for her. Much in the same way the youth look up to the stars of today, I suppose you could somehow relate this analogy to Jesus' life in that people came to him, looked up to him and he gave them something special to last a lifetime.
Andy then offered the chance for the young people at Imagine '06 to come to know Christ for themselves - and a fair few people joined him and Wildlife Youth leader, Jon Norman at the front; 30 young people - and what a wonderful sight that was.
Pictured above are the WIldlife Band and singers and Andy Hawthorne.