Compiled by Alliance Life staff
On July 5–9, 2022, 6,000 Alliance youth and leaders attended the LIFE Conference in central Florida hosted by Alliance Youth. This year, the conference theme was Jesus > Everything—including power, money, and fame; social media followers; privilege; sex; reputation; their issues; and even Sunday church services. During a week of worship, prayer, deeper-life formation, and service, Jesus drew near and indeed revealed Himself as greater than to the next generation of the Alliance family! These are some highlights from the week.
To watch more videos from LIFE 2022, including sermons and daily recaps, click here!
“We never have to gamble with the Word of God because it will always come through.” —Carlos Whittaker, author and speaker
“Jesus’ wounds tell you He loves you.” —Brian Episcopo, senior pastor of Alliance Church in Appleton, WI
“If God Himself doesn’t exist outside of community, outside of the Trinity, who are we to think we were supposed to go through this life alone?” —Dr. Heather Thompson Day, author, speaker, podcaster, and associate professor at Andrews University
“The Spirit desires to fill us up with life that will never run dry.” —Dr. Tim Meier, vice president for Development of the U.S. Alliance
“May we be a people who learn to confess. Not just our sin, but our deep longings.” —Rich Villodas, author and pastor of New Life Fellowship in Queens, New York City, NY
“No matter what your issue is, or what your issues are, Jesus is greater than.” —Heather Flies, junior high pastor at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, MN
“The value of Jesus should always be greater than any privilege we have.” —Dr. D. A. Horton, author and assistant professor at California Baptist University
“God is in this journey, and God can only be good.” —Dr. John Stumbo, president of the U.S. Alliance
“Jesus loves you, and Jesus lives. and Jesus wants to love and live through you.” —Megan Fate Marshman, speaker and teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL
“One of the things that has come to light in the past couple of days is the extreme desire that I have to be loved. And, oftentimes, it’s not to have that love from God. I don’t think that love from God is enough. I deeply desire to be loved by people. We all desire to accomplish as many things as we can, but I said to God, ‘What if no one loves me without my accomplishments?’ Which is a terrifying thought that I’ve probably hid from for a long time. And it just seemed like He was saying, ‘Then I will still love you, my son.’ And I hope that through this week I can keep learning how to value God’s love above anybody else’s.”
“To everyone who’s gone through domestic violence or sexual assault—God loves you and you are not broken. You are not ever too broken for His love. You are not ever too damaged for God. God loves you so, so much. The Bible says in Hebrews 13:5–6, ‘Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you. So we say with confidence: “The Lord is my helper. What can man do to me?”’ And for a long time in my life I thought, well, man can do all kinds of things. But I realized that the reason that it says, ‘What can man do to me’ is because no matter what someone else can do to you, it just pales in comparison to God’s love. Nothing can stand against it because it is so powerful and is so all-consuming. Nothing else can stand against it.”
“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, how equipped you think you are, how young you are, or old—God can use you. And if He’s calling you to something, He’s going to give you what you need to carry it out. So really, you’re qualified by the fact that God is calling you. And I think that I’m an example of that because I feel very unequipped to be in student ministry, and yet He’s got me here for a reason. He’s redefining for me what it means to be qualified and equipped.”
“During worship, while I was crying and singing, this girl who I’ve never met before, she turned around all of a sudden and looked at me and threw her arms around me. She said, ‘You are loved.’ And I thought, This is it. This is where I’m supposed to be. This is all I need. And then when I was listening to the speaker talk, even before he started talking about accepting Jesus into your heart, I texted one of my youth leaders, Morgan, and I said, ‘I need to get saved tonight.’
I have been saved before, when I was a kid, but I never knew what it meant. And I strayed from Jesus for a long time.
That night we sat out in the hallway. Everyone was getting their room keys in order, and we sat and we cried. And she told me what it meant to accept Jesus and how it’s going to be a hard journey, like the hardest journey of my life. But she asked me if I was ready, and if I want to accept Him. And I just looked at it and said, ‘I already did.’ And then we hugged, and we prayed and that was it. And then we told all of my friends and they all cheered, and it was like a party. They said there was a party in heaven for me that night, and I really think there was.
They keep talking about the one and the 99. I really felt like I was the one out of the 99 that night.”
“Something that has been really meaningful to me this week is the love of God and feeling safe around Him, because I grew up in a very abusive household and my father was always just a very angry person. I never really felt safe around men, and it’s always affected me because of a bunch of trauma I have through men. Being here and worshiping and hearing how He loves you and you’re safe with Him, you should trust Him—I had this vision of God, reaching down and holding my hand and telling me, ‘You’re safe now.’ And that really stuck with me, because it’s the first time I’ve ever really, truly felt safe with a male figure in my life.”
“We’ve been going to seminars and these huge live sermons, and every day it feels like they’re talking to me. Whatever I’ve been experiencing, that I haven’t been talking to anyone about, I’ll go to the sermon and it’s like they’re talking directly to me.”
“I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. I started going to church on my own. Some seeds were planted, and I grew up wanting to know how to understand and apply the Bible. And I watched these kids last night—after last night’s session, we sat for two hours, and they ministered to each other. They talked about their struggles and their difficulties. And every time somebody mentioned one of their difficulties, someone else said, ‘But it was that trait in you that has encouraged me.’ And it’s so meaningful to see God working. I’m just there. I’m the bystander, I’m not the leader. I’m just there to watch and make sure that they stay on track. It’s so rewarding because I’m watching kids learn to disciple and minister to each other, and I know they’re taking it home to their family and their peers.
There is a hunger in our youth right now that I don’t know that I’ve ever seen. They’re not afraid to ask the hard questions. They’re not afraid to look deeper. They’re not afraid to dig. They want reality, they want truth. And we, as youth leaders, may be the only people that can provide it to them. We’ve got to give them the freedom to ask those things and learn and be challenged by the Holy Spirit, or we will never see revival again.”
“I sat with my youth pastor, and we talked for a long time about the heaviest topics—all my mental problems that I haven’t been able to control, all the doubts I’ve had. But through that conversation, I also realized that every time there was a problem that looked like, ‘Hey, this is going to be too much, I’m done. There’s nowhere else for me to go. This problem is the end for me.’ Because if you if you speak to the people who know me, my problems a lot of times do seem like that. They drive me very quickly to the worst measures of keeping myself afloat. And I realize that every time, not of my own work—because I hardly did any work, to be honest—I somehow went through all of it. I got through every little problem, every bump in the road, and it wasn’t me doing it anywhere along the way. It was God working in my life through every little moment that I never noticed. And through this week, it’s like my mind has expanded tenfold to being able to hear things I couldn’t hear before, as in the Holy Spirit talking to me through ways I didn’t know was the Holy Spirit. And I’ve learned that God is never done with you in the slightest.
I came to God believing in Him but hating Him. And now I can’t wait until I’m called to do whatever He wants me to do. If He asks me to go through a concrete wall, I would claw my way through it if I could.”
“I’m not great at reaching out for support, and so I bottle things in, and I stay in my brain and God keeps knocking and saying, ‘Hey, give it back to Me. Give it back to Me, open up your fingers.’ And I kept closing my fingers and saying, ‘No, no, no, this is mine. I can deal with this myself.’ And God has made it so clear to me over the past few weeks, and especially last night and this morning, that it’s His issues too, it’s His plan. He is not only the God of the light, He is the God of the dark as well. And He is with you through every valley and every mountaintop.”
Over four days, more than 5,500 students and leaders volunteered with several organizations across central Florida in a combined effort equaling over 17,000 hours of service! Each student was able to make a lasting impact by serving local communities and sharing Jesus’ love, compassion, and kindness.
LIFE volunteers partnered with Orange County Public Schools, Keep Orlando Beautiful, The Mustard Seed of Central Florida, New Hope for Kids, GreenUp Orlando, United Against Poverty, Kissimmee Parks and Recreation, Sunshine Foundation, Harvest Time International, the Society of St. Andrew, Do Good Farm, and Sleep in Heavenly Peace (Orlando West chapter). Students and leaders who participated in a fun run raised $25,000 for Sleep in Heavenly Peace, helping to build and donate beds to families in need!
The Prayer Experience helped students and leaders interact with God in a variety of creative and simple ways. It was meant to feel like walking into God’s home where you would find Him eager to embrace you, spend some quality time with you, and lead you deeper into the life we have in and with Jesus.
The Justice Experience empowered students and leaders to join God’s mission in bringing freedom to the captives both locally and globally. This hands-on, interactive experience awakened students to slavery issues around the world and in their neighborhoods. In addition, participants were equipped to understand what God is calling them to do about it.
The Missions Experience invited students to step into the lives of individuals around the world to get a glimpse of what God is doing through people just like them! This experience gave students an opportunity to consider the calling that God has placed on their lives and challenged them to take the gospel of Jesus to their own communities.