Loneliness. Broken relationships. Questions about sexuality and gender. These are common realities facing many college students in our current age. Not surprisingly, the core issue for each is the same: a deep longing to be known and understood and accepted. For 4 days in Jacksonville, FL, 600 students from 20 colleges across the Southeast were challenged by the fact that they are known by God. The infinite, transcendent, eternal God has chosen to make himself known to them, and he has done that through the person of Jesus. This divine yet human Jesus knows how we were made, he knows every hair on our head, and he understands everything that we are going through because he has experienced it as a human. These truths hit home to the felt needs of this generation through our speakers, Ken Currie and Dr. Rosaria Butterfield.
Ken, a former director for Campus Outreach Greenville, explained how remarkable it is not just that the God of the universe would choose to make himself known to us, but that he would adopt us and treat us as his children. Dr. Butterfield, author and speaker, shared her story about finding Jesus and true relationships while she was a feminist, lesbian professor at Syracuse University. She challenged students to think about their sexuality in light of bigger issues like control, belief, and obedience to God’s design and plan for them. Students were deeply impacted to think differently about their relationships, sexuality, futures, and how they live their lives in light of the simple truth that God knows them and irresistibly loves and accepts them.
Here are a few things students learned in their own words:
• “The reality of how big God really is, but that He still desires to know me, and that makes me want to grow to know Him more.“
• “I feel like I can trust Jesus and believe that he is good more than I did when I walked in.”
• “Being a Christian is more than knowing God but about making him known and going outside of my comfort zone to do so.”
• “Living a life of repentance and obedience through prayer and full reliance on the Lord.”
• “To turn toward God during suffering instead of turning away”
• “How MASSIVE the Universe is, but still how important and significant we are to God through Christ.”
• “At this point in my life it's not strange for me to want to control my own life and plan everything out but I just have to enjoy my life, stay in the word, continue to pray, and walk the path that God has made for me.”
• “Living by faith doesn't mean seeing success stories, but seeing Christ. God has lavished His grace on me and chose and loved me and adopted me into His kingdom! I am KNOWN.”
Outside of the keynote talks, students enjoyed topical seminars, live worship, a hip-hop concert, dodgeball and basketball tournaments, and plenty of fun in downtown Jacksonville. All of the hours at this conference and the many months spent planning it were for one purpose--to help students realize how much God knows them and wants to know them through Jesus. At least 15 students have already shared that they made a decision at the conference to begin a personal relationship with Jesus. Pray that we would see even more in the next few weeks welcome Jesus in their life due to what they experienced at our conference. We hope you can rejoice and pray with us Jesus’ own words in John 17:26: “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Thankful for all of you who help make this happen,
JAX14 Conference Coordinator
P.S. Conference talks and resources will be available at jax2014.com in the next week.