Newday was much better than I ever thought it would be; the meetings in the morning and evening and then during the day mixing with other people who you’d never met before. It was just a great bundle of fun. My highlight was probably realising that God worked in my life that week like I hadn’t experienced before.
That morning I woke up with stomach pains, 8 am in the morning, I could hardly get out of bed. We were about to leave and I didn’t think I’d be able to go, I just didn’t feel well. Mum and I sat down and prayed that the pains would go away. We prayed and 5 minutes later I was walking around the house and thought ‘this is better, let’s go.’ I didn’t acknowledge the fact until a few days later that, after other experiences, that was a healing, that God wanted me to be there at Newday so he could work in me. So I feel God wanted me there, his timing was right for me.
The first meeting when we got there, Simon Brading was inviting people to the front. I remember he said “God forbid if you die tomorrow, if you doubt whether you’ll go to heaven, then come forward.” I was like ‘I don’t know about that’ and I was stood there praying and I could hear people going and I could just feel my heart beating faster and I started sweating from my forehead and then he shouted out “it’s not too late to go!” and then my leg almost forced a stride out, so I just thought ‘I’ve got to go, he’s calling me to go, he’s telling me to walk down the front.’ I prayed with this guy and that was like the first step.
The camping experience was good. It doesn’t feel like camping in a way because I woke up fresh every morning excited about the day ahead. It just didn’t feel as if we were camping. It was really well organised and there was so much to do you almost forgot that you were actually camping in a tent. Yeah, I’d definitely do it again next year. In a way, the camping experience even proves that God works in these big church buildings, and even down to these small tents - there’s no limitation to where he works. It’s good to see that because sometimes you may think that you have to do this a certain way, or you could get caught up into the tradition almost. But actually it doesn’t matter to God where you are, he’s still going to work in your life if you put your trust in him.
Joining with Alton for the week added an extra dynamic. There was always new people to talk to, so there was never a sense of boredom around the camp, it was always lively. That made the week more enjoyable. Their leaders gave us different words from God that spoke into people from our church’s lives. I think it just shows that they’ve never met us before at that point, but God can still deliver us messages through these people. It was really refreshing just to connect with them and enjoy their company.
I found the worshipping and the atmosphere in the Big Top was unbelievable. I didn’t expect anything quite like that. And just the amount of healings we saw and the way the Holy Spirit was working around the tent through what you could hear and see, but then also people at our camp; there were a number of people who were touched by it. I just think it was unbelievable that God worked on such a large scale in such an emphatic way to these people. I just didn’t expect anything quite like that. I’ve never seen it before have that much of an impact.
Between the morning and evening meetings I helped the team out to prep dinner a few times, sometimes we played some sports with the people from Alton, went to the concourse and looked around the activities there and got some food and drink. On the concourse was the Rhythm Factory - a big disco type thing - they had a room with basketball set up, table tennis and skateboarding, then they had The Lounge, in which they were selling drinks, and there was snookball which was a fun game we played. It was basically a version of football snooker. They had things like dress up stalls where you could just mess around. Then there was The Cowshed where they served milkshakes, which was always packed. They had dodgems outside for people to go on; there was a whole host of activities. During the day they ran several inter-church sports competitions and we participated in a few such as the Olympics, the 12-14s football, then some rounders, so there was plenty to do during the day. My favourite thing was the burger van, which we paid many a visit to; I reckon I had about 7 burgers during the week.
Going without my parents felt different in the sense that at the start of the week when I was worshipping, I felt as I would in any service, but as the week progressed towards the end I just wasn’t overly aware of what I was doing, it just felt that I was free to worship God and I didn’t have to think too much. It just felt natural to me. I dunno, sometimes you feel a pressure maybe, people are going to think something of what you’re doing, or if you’re not doing something or whatever. I just felt during the week I grew more confident in myself just to worship God how I felt at that particular time. There was no pressure or anything, which was really good. I think it was mainly because there were so many people there of similar ages, just a diverse group of people all sharing the same belief, it just inspired confidence into me that this is who I want to be following. In social groups, if you’re the only one, it’s easy to start to doubt yourself; ‘is this definitely the right way?’ but that week assured me that that’s the way I want to be going. I think the worship definitely helped with that because I just seemed to fill up and release it all, which was exceptional really.
From some of the preaches we had I took out some valuable messages, which were to not be ashamed of Jesus’ name or the church; to be more confident speaking about him in public. I think as the week went on I felt God was speaking more and more about how to follow that through, to act on it and I think over the week I’ve seen my faith grow stronger and be more confident in Jesus, in the whole concept, if you like, in what Christianity is. I think I’ve really grown in those 4 or 5 days, I think I’ve grown a lot and I think that’s down to Newday, because I’ve never experienced anything like that before.
Newday has encouraged me to pray more about something that I know God’s calling me to do. He’s set a way for me, so I want to pray more that he can guide me on this journey and show me the right way. Praying for me is definitely going to be more of a regular thing; on my own in my room, or wherever, just to take 2 minutes, 3 minutes just to pray. I think that hopefully will make a difference to how I approach the next few months. I will definitely be encouraged to book again next year because I feel it was a brilliant week and I want to experience more of it and hopefully be able to invite some other friends that could share the same experiences, so I’ll put the offer out there again.