My heart is so full. Yes, it’s been a whole month since Word Alive 2019 but the memories are still so fresh. When I reflect back on these packed six days, words like ‘hype’, ‘growth’, ‘exhaustion’ and ‘one-night werewolf’* spring to mind. Coming into my first Word Alive event, I was initially filled with reluctance and slight reservations as to whether I would enjoy six days away from my usual routine of practice and work. Of course, God rebuked me heavily and transformed my stubborn heart like He always does, providing a week filled with solid bible-based equipping, fruitful conversations and encouraging BASICs (Brothers And Sisters In Christ). I have yet again learnt so much and have been challenged in so many ways.
An incredible experience
The event kicked off on a Saturday afternoon. Arriving after a long five-hour road trip from London, we arrived in Prestatyn only to be greeted by the wind and cold. Despite all this, our first main meeting that night was filled with thousands of people in a white circus-like marquee. It was truly an incredible experience to feel the electricity and energy buzzing throughout the entire night, whether it be in worship music, the entertaining MCs or in the talk on Psalm 1 by Steve Casey. We were reminded of truths about God’s goodness, humanity’s brokenness and the redeeming work of Jesus and the hope we look forward to.
Hearing the Word
In the following days, we gradually became accustomed to our own schedules. If, like myself, you weren’t a fan of joining the 7.30am running club alongside the scenic beaches of Prestatyn, days normally started off with a morning meeting on a series of talks in 2 Timothy by Hugh Palmer, Rector of All Souls, Langham Place, in London. We were taught to hold fast to the faith and stand firm in the gospel, particularly in a messed-up world and mixed-up church. I was particularly challenged by the weight of Hugh Palmer’s words when referring to Paul’s reminder to Timothy of the guarding of the good deposit:
To be on the wrong side of history is uncomfortable, but to be on the wrong side of eternity is even worse
Yet the hope that we have is that ‘man is never for a moment not made sufficient by grace’.
Using my gifts to serve
Another highlight of Word Alive was the chance to busk in the public space of the main building where mothers with prams, children, elderly and young teens roamed freely, enjoying a good chat, drinking coffee or browsing the Word Alive library. It was not only a great opportunity for me to showcase the piano repertoire that I had been working on, but even more so to use the gifts and passion God has blessed me with to serve Him in a Christian setting. Thankfully my busking session was received with warmth and enthusiasm; and it brought great joy to me knowing that at least one young five-year girl was bouncing around to Mozart!
Thinking Christianly about music
Staying within the Music Network chalets during Word Alive played a huge role in helping me understand what it means to be a Christian navigating the world specifically as a musician. We spent most of our time cooking, cleaning and sharing meals together in each other’s chalets. On top of that I was particularly refreshed after the series of Music Network talks that were specifically catered towards music students. I learnt that, especially in such an industry which thrives off self-promotion and continual dependence on others’ opinions towards our craft, this gift that God has given to us can easily be forgotten as we idolise the need for perfection and self-glorification. I was reminded yet again of God’s purpose for us to further His Kingdom and the privilege it is to serve Him in such a specific field which is in huge need of hearing the life-changing Gospel.
A holistic and transformative experience
Let me finish by also commending Word Alive for hitting the nail on the head in terms of fun activities - the silent disco nights and giant inflatable slides were indeed the icing on the cake! So, if you are reading this and considering whether to come to the next Word Alive, in 2020, you can rest assured that not only will you be fed well spiritually, physically and relationally, you will have a lot of fun as well. These six days allowed me to learn and grow in knowledge of Jesus, and moreover to be changed emotionally by that knowledge. I saw God’s truth have a holistic and transformative effect on myself and others, and the whole experience was a huge joy, comfort and hope.