Thankful Thursday: Winter Conference.

It was at a winter conference (which someone else paid for) that I met Jesus.

Not really, in the salvation sense. I think I was a Christian long before college. But it was at a winter conference that I first truly encountered the God who actually interrupts your life to call you to something greater. The God who is not content with just faking churchianity. The Jesus who would ask you to leave everything and follow him, because He’s worth it.

It was at a winter conference (which someone else paid for) that I first heard the name of a central Asian country and knew as if I’d heard an audible voice that God was calling me to invest my life there. The next summer I spent six weeks ministering where there were no indigenous churches, sharing my faith with people who had never walked past a Christian.

It was at a winter conference (which someone else paid for) that I interviewed for a job with Campus Crusade for Christ, where I would spend the next 8 years of my life being challenged, stretched, and refined.

I’m supremely thankful for winter conferences with Campus Crusade for Christ. God used winter conferences in my life in so many ways, and I very much enjoyed watching him use them in the lives of students for many years after I had graduated. And the one thing that all of those winter conferences had in common is that someone else paid for them.

Whether it was my parents or my ministry partners, I never paid a dime for those conferences that I earned. It was all by grace. God taught me many of the greatest lessons of my life on someone else’s dime.

For perspective, the last time I celebrated a New Year’s Eve that didn’t involve (approximately) 1000 college students praying in the New Year was 1997. NINETY SEVEN. Bill Clinton was just getting warmed up in his second term as president, and Titanic hit the box office.

So this year is tough. This week is tough. But I am thankful that a job where I had to trust other people to pay my way led to so many others’ lives being changed. If you think of it, pray for the thousands of students all over the country participating in similar conferences, that God would use those hotel ballrooms as a launchpad for missions mobilization.

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