Then and Now

The CHOSEN Youth Conference has just ended, and I've been reflecting on how things were just a few years ago. When I was a thirteen year old girl, I attended Camp Destiny hosted by Gateway, but it was so much different. Back then, I thought it was all about what I looked like. My mom took me shopping for new outfits, and I was set to go. Of course I was changed by that camp in some ways. I definitely learned where I had more work to do in my faith, and let go of some unforgiveness. I think I was so insecure in myself that I had a hard time trusting God. I definitely didn’t know God like I know Him now.

This year's CHOSEN Youth Conference was different in so many ways. For starters, all of the speakers came from Gateway. They brought the word and ministered in power during each session. Although I was unable to come during the day, God showed up in the night sessions as well. Even though I knew God was going to do something great during this time, I was still kind of in limbo. In other words, I'm not a teenager anymore and I wasn't a worker. The enemy really hit me with condemnation saying, “You don’t fit in. What are you doing here? This isn’t for you!” I pressed past how I felt and worshipped in the night sessions anyway. You see, I've been in a dry place spiritually lately. Not where I want to be, but not where I'm going, so the devil tried to hit me while I was down.

I can't write this post without mentioning my sister, Vickie Bowman. Without fail, she came and found me before service silently slipping away from the hustle and bustle for just a moment to give me a hug. She'll never know how much that meant to me each time. She didn't have to do it, but it was a powerful reminder that I'm still a part of the Gateway family, even though the past five years have been really hard requiring me to miss more church than I would've liked.

I've been at Gateway for eleven years, but I didn't see the speakers as just Ann, Vickie, or Josh. I knew God had something to say, but it was up to me to listen. On the last night of the conference during praise and worship, I sobbed like a baby. I was definitely not concerned with what I looked like or what people thought! It was about experiencing God on a whole new level. The anointing was so powerful that you couldn't deny it. I left that night feeling refreshed and renewed, knowing God's not done with me yet. I can truly say there's nowhere else I would've rather been this past weekend than watching those youth and workers lives be transformed. Minute by minute. Session by session. Anyone can get something from God at a youth conference! It just solidified everything that God is doing in and through the people at Gateway, and I'm honored to be a part of this family.

~Madison Sanders

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