Standing on a brightly lit stage—sweating because the lights really are incredibly powerful—asking the audience for a one-word suggestion for the 30-something minute improv show we’re about to perform… I’ll never forget that sensation. There’s nervousness, excitement, frenetic energy that I’m trying to shake off in my legs before the show starts. And there’s a warm, tingly feeling in my gut that could either be pre-barf or the same sensation that I get when I’m about to eat a delicious meal. That’s the feeling of knowing for what purpose, extent, and reason you exist as a person.
At the Epic Movement West Coast student conference in January, I could tell students were feeling similarly. We, as humans, ask ourselves ad nauseum who we are, what our purpose is, and what we are made for because the answers to those questions inform all of our decisions and non-decisions. And as college students, full of promise, hope, and potential, these questions seem especially crucial to answer.
Thus, the conference explored the theme: “Made: To Know Him and To Make Him Known.” Speakers Vivian Mabuni, Erik Kakimoto, and Danny Kim all focused their answers to those questions around 2 Corinthians 1-5. During a prayer time, a student came up to me to pray as she was recognizing her adequacy, given from the Lord, perhaps for the first time. There were lots of tears. But just by her taking hold of who God declares her to be, I felt her courage. She was saying, “No!” to the lies that say she was worthless and purposeless, and embracing a new self.
Erik reminded us that everything we need to share God with others is already within us. It is our character, our personalities, skills, interests, and cultures. It’s that very unique blend of those things that is so remarkable to behold that shows others we’re a part of something pretty great—the family of God. What a great thing to hear before going out to share the gospel with the city of San Diego! My partner and I got to meet several people along the beach during our sharing time. All the people we met were Christians, but it was still such a blessing to be able to reinforce and remind others of the gift of life we have through Jesus! A couple of guys even prayed for us.
I also felt blessed by Erik’s message about how we were made to live without shame, validating our human need to need. Speaking as a recovering perfectionist, I rarely feel that the way I was made or the things I was made for is anything to be proud of. If anything, I feel heavily the temptation to run and hide. However, inspired by Erik’s message and the students being vulnerable with one another, I too leaned into my weaknesses and shared them with others. They met me with prayer, hugs, and acceptance. Students shared their talents of poetry, spoken word, music, painting… and I could tell there was a powerful impact on the conference just from their offering themselves to others. And as students stepped into their God-given identities, I was blown away and humbled to see a generation taking their place as sons and daughters AND witnesses of a great and mighty God.
Whitney Chen, Epic National Staff