DALLAS (BP)–It had the look of a missions conference, but organizers of “DestiNATIONS: A Conclave of Mission Awareness” say it became more.
“What we heard wasn’t the same old, same old,” said Brenda Sanders, student missions coordinator for the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The focus of the weekend was not on mission needs, she said; it was on knowing and pursuing God. When that happens, “you can’t help but join him in what he’s doing.”
DestiNATIONS, held in Dallas Jan. 4-7, was a Southern Baptist missions conference jointly sponsored by the state Baptist conventions, LifeWay Christian Resources, the International and North American mission boards and Woman’s Missionary Union. Approximately 2,700 people attended the four-day event.
It was “a great experience of cooperation between our Baptist agencies and our state conventions,” said Tom Ruane, director of Baptist student ministry for BGCT.
“It was a great conference,” he said. There was “a lot of emphasis on the students helping the local churches to know their role in world evangelism.”
Students came to the conference from all 50 states, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Italy, Germany and Canada, Ruane said. Texas students made up about a third of those in attendance.
In the opening session, worship leader Charlie Hall asked the students to put their hands over their hearts and “cry out for the nations.”
Jeff Lewis, an evangelist from California, reminded them they were “worshiping the God of all nations, not a tribal deity. … We are here to draw near unto him and to give him the honor and glory due unto him.” Then, he added, God will “not allow us to rest until his glory is declared to the ends of the earth.”
Sanders saw many indications the conference touched the lives of students. She said students were “on the floor, on their faces” praying. And “little groups of students came early and prayed.”
In one of the “continent group” break-out sessions, Sanders said, several students sat in a circle listening to one girl tell why she couldn’t be used by God. “A fellow student just looked at her and said, ‘Those are excuses. You just need to get over that. You just need to go.'” Only a peer could have spoken to the girl in that way, Sanders said.
In another gathering, she witnessed students circled around missionaries, “praying over them.” The missionaries then prayed over the students. “It was like a passing of the torch.”
Sparse attendance greeted late-night music events, she said, but it was hard to be disappointed when she realized students were gathered in the spacious foyer praying and talking. “It was like the students didn’t want to be entertained,” she said. “This is evidence the Holy Spirit is doing something.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: JEFF LEWIS. An initial 3 stories on the DestiNATIONS conference appeared in Baptist Press Jan. 10.