BELLS?Rather than spending their Memorial Day weekend at beaches or amusement parks, nearly 30,000 college-age individuals sought the Lord on a 400-acre private ranch near Sherman, Texas, about an hour north of Dallas.
“OneDay03” stretched throughout the weekend, climaxing in seven hours of worship, teaching and prayer on Monday, May 26. Led by Louie Giglio, founder and director of Passion Conferences based in Roswell, Ga., OneDay included a number of well-known speakers, worship artists and other Christian leaders.
OneDay’s purpose was to draw students into a “sacred assembly” dedicated to seeking God, reflecting the Old Testament passage Joel 2:15. Maintaining this focus, names of speakers and musicians were not released in publicizing the event. Yet students still came, which Giglio saw as evidence that “they didn’t come to see us, they didn’t come to see people, they came to see the living God.”
This passion to see God drove students and leaders past many obstacles to arrive at the weekend. Torrential rains on Saturday, for example, caused 800 students to be relocated to Sherman High School to await entry to the property on the following day. Expectations of camping in tents were replaced by sleeping bags spread across the floor of the school’s gym, but students were undaunted.
After a night of little sleep, an impromptu worship service was held for an hour Sunday morning, led by students strumming guitars, singing, praying and reading Scripture. The group gave a standing ovation to the school’s principal, who teaches Sunday School at a local church and appreciated the chance to witness their perseverance in seeking the things of God.
“We believe [God] had something very specific to accomplish in each of these lives,” said Beth Moore, a Houston-based speaker and author who delivered one of the Monday messages. She and the other speakers challenged students to make their sole purpose living for the fame of God. Pastor and author John Piper of Minneapolis in his message defined the day as “the gathering and the awakening of a generation passionate for the holiness of God.”
As students worshiped and listened to the call to live for God’s renown, they were urged to take their passion for him to the ends of the earth. To this end, dozens of missions organizations gathered at site to help students mobilize for international outreach. Dt1:PersonName>avid Merrifield of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky staffed the seminary’s booth for this purpose. He explained that Southern and other schools sent representatives to OneDay because advanced training is the next step for many wanting to pursue a call to missions. Several other Baptist organizations were represented at OneDay, including the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board.
For Miki Guerra, a sophomore at San Antonio Community College and member of Castle Hills Baptist, the time spent praising God with so many other students was amazing. As the thousands of students worshiped in whatever way they chose ? standing still, with hands raised, and even on their knees and faces ? she felt the worship experience was “a glimpse of heaven.”
The college ministry of Sagemont Church in Houston had a unique adventure at OneDay03, having arrived at the weekend before thunderstorms rolled in Saturday night. As the Sagemont students huddled under an awning they had brought to the field, they also watched for chances to serve others as they came. “Many from our group helped our neighbors try to find matching tent posts in the dark with a monstrous thunderstorm engulfing the entire field,” recalled Lance Crowell, college minister at Sagemont.
After lightning began to hit areas of the ranch, the group returned to their vans, where they remained for the rest of the night. However, just as those who found other accommodations remained spirited, those stuck at the OneDay site continued strongly, too. “The Spirit of the Lord was so present that I did not hear complaints,” Crowell said. “Those who had everything they brought drenched were in a spirit of peace and joy.”
As Beth Moore noted on Monday, many saw the storm, with a magnitude uncharacteristic for Texas, as a symbol of the presence of God they had prayed would approach in the OneDay weekend. It was this presence that all enjoyed throughout the “solemn assembly,” which began with a wondrous display of God’s power in nature but continued with God’s presence in worship and powerful expressions of His truth.
Crowell wants the impact among his students to last. “I hope that we got the message, and I pray that this country will never be the same because God was present in a thunderous and miraculous way this weekend on a field in the small town of Bells,” he said.
Gregg Matte, who speaks to thousands of students each week through Breakaway Ministries at Texas A&M University, served in OneDay03 leadership, as did Chris Tomlin of Austin. Tomlin is lead worshiper at The Austin Stone Community Church, a recent Southern Baptists of Texas church plant in the heart of the capital.