At last year’s Annual Event, Michelle remembers hearing about the desire to be known. Students long to be truly known by someone, and Jesus is able to meet them in that longing and know them fully.
It was a sweet reminder of the first sermon she had ever heard. A friend invited her to church one Sunday where the pastor, Moses, preached about the desire for “home.” He shared that it’s normal for everyone to feel like they don’t belong, because we were actually created for a different place. Michelle felt like she didn’t fit in anywhere, but at least at this church, that message helped her feel included.
A few years later, Michelle was attending one of her church’s small groups when she met Hobbe, a staff member with Power to Change. He shared a prayer request about a retreat he was helping to organize, and Michelle asked several follow-up questions, progressively becoming more interested in this ministry that engaged in discipleship and evangelism on university and college campuses. A few months later, when she was asked to join his ministry partnership team, she quickly said yes, and has been praying for and supporting him ever since.
That same year, she was invited to attend her first Annual Event. She heard students share their testimonies of starting a relationship with Jesus, on campus and within the communities they had through Power to Change. “I wish I had a community come around me when I was in school.” Michelle describes her college self as free and selfish, headed down a path that was “not so great”. She shares, “I never had the opportunity, but I get to see that opportunity play out for other people.”
The next year, Michelle was invited to be a Group Host at the Annual Event for the first time, and brought a full table of family and friends. The experience was a lot simpler than she expected. Michelle had thought it would be more than just inviting people, helping her friends feel welcomed, and handing out forms as directed by the MC. She thought she might have to spew out some facts about Bill Bright and have an extraordinary knowledge of everything Power to Change does. Instead, she just had to share her experience from the previous dinner and get people excited about coming. At the dinner, the directions were so simple she could enjoy herself and the people she was hosting.
Michelle recalls how the event created conversations that didn’t end at the event. Over the next few weeks, as she saw the people she invited, they talked about the dinner, what they heard and saw, sharing in the experience of helping lives change. To this day, the attendees from that first year are still asking her questions about Hobbe and Power to Change.
The next year, she hosted her second dinner, and this time, felt the need to branch out a bit from her church friends and family. So, she asked her boss, someone with no knowledge of Power to Change nor interest in Christianity, to attend. He didn’t have some crazy conversion experience, but it has opened the doors for deeper, more meaningful conversations with her boss. Hosting the annual event helped Michelle open up to people she normally wouldn’t share her personal life with. It led to some awkward conversations, but also some very meaningful ones.
Now, Michelle has been a Group Host at three consecutive Annual Events. Why does she keep doing it?
“Every year you get to see how God works so powerfully through this ministry. You get to see success, answered prayers, the many gifts of his people, and you get to share in his proclaimed glory.”
She also enjoys becoming more connected to the ministry, feeling like she’s a part of the ministry in a big way, and being able to share her excitement for the ministry with everyone she hosts.
The Annual Event is always a great space for Michelle to reflect on her calling as a Christian as she’s inspired by the stories she hears. In a world filled with distractions that can leave our faith stale, she takes advantage of the opportunity the annual event provides to be overwhelmed by the beauty of answered prayers and gains fresh eyes to be in awe of Jesus.