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Fun & discipleship win out over shame at Ski Xplosion

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Chris Geno took the ride of shame.

Geno, 20, of Living Waters Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, got his skis pointed the wrong way as he barreled down the mountainside. His trip ended abruptly in a first-class wipeout. The ski patrol eventually came and loaded Geno into a sled that looks like a flat basket. The ride to the bottom of the hill in that fashion is notoriously dubbed “The Ride of Shame.”

Geno’s pride wound up more bruised than his aching knee. “I think I proved I’m not much of a skier,” he confessed.

He wasn’t the only one to take the ride of shame. Dozens of the several hundred youth attending Ski Xplosion Dec. 27-Jan 1 sponsored by LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center found themselves in the basket. Their tumbles became fodder for humorous stories told during nightly worship services. And although fun was a staple of the three-day event, the focus was on Jesus Christ.

“We’ve designed this event to be a time of spiritual renewal for youth in their relationship with Christ,” said Hal Hill, national event planner for LifeWay Christian Resources. “We understand that youth ministers have a lot of demands placed on them, so we want to serve them by providing doctrinally sound, age-appropriate programming that they find valuable.”

LifeWay Glorieta will host two more Ski Xplosion events March 9-12 and 13-16, with space still available. Reservations also are being accepted at 1-800-797-4222 or lifeway.com/skixplosion for 2004-2005 events to be held Dec. 27-30, Dec. 29-Jan. 1, March 15-18 and March 19-22.

The balance between fun and discipleship is exactly what Dale Justice, youth minister at First Freewill Baptist Church in Checotah, Okla., wanted.

“Every trip we do has a purpose,” he said. “I was looking for a ski trip this winter for our group and this one is in a great location and has the spiritual element to it. It is a great mix.”

Geno’s group worked to pay their way to Glorieta. Living Water is a small church that began as a mission of Gambrell Street Baptist Church in Fort Worth. They sold calendars to raise money so 10 participants from their youth and collegiate programs could make the trip.

“This is real special for us because we don’t get to do things like this very often,” Geno said. “The time together has been good for us because it has strengthened us as a group.”

It is also a chance to reinforce biblical lessons, said Brian Luig, worship leader and youth minister at Living Water. “We’ve got some kids who are young in their faith and this gives them a chance to get away from the distractions back home [in order to] focus on spiritual things. One of our girls was saved recently and this gives her a chance to be in a positive environment and see what Christianity is all about.”

The worship theme was “Don’t Do-It-Yourself Home Improvement.” Allen Jackson, associate professor of youth education at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, challenged the youth to look at their lives as a house built on the foundation of Jesus Christ, lived under the roof of God’s protection and wired to spiritual power provided by the Holy Spirit. After informal nightly fun rallies at Glorieta’s Chuckwagon cafe, each youth group retired for a more intimate discussion of Jackson’s challenge. Several youth made significant decisions by accepting Christ as their Savior, rededicating their lives or exploring vocational ministry during the small-group sessions.

“Talking in the rooms at night has been good for us,” said Daniel Oester , 21, also of Living Water Baptist Church. “We’ve had some cliques in our group but that’s been wiped out.”

That’s the kind of first-class wipeout in which the Fort Worth group and others at Ski Xplosion found no shame.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: GOING UP, CAPPING THE DAY WITH PRAYER, BREAK AT THE CHUCK WAGON, OUTDOOR FUN WITH A PURPOSE and GROWING IN SMALL GROUP TIME.