'MOVE' Conference Helps Youth Move Closer to God

Date Posted: 4/10/2014

Bands, beaches and breakout workshops provided the backdrop for 7-12th graders attending the “MOVE” Conference at Moody UMC in Galveston. Youth put their faith to work by helping community organizations that address homelessness, human trafficking, and global hunger.
With boundless energy at that age, teens seem to always be “on the move,” but, at the recent MOVE Conference in Galveston, 7-12th graders from the gulf coast area moved with a purpose. Moody UMC Youth Leader Heather Gates coordinated this unique conference in hopes “that students will want to MOVE into a closer relationship with Christ and out into their communities to make a difference for Him.” Based on feedback at the conclusion of the event, that is exactly what happened.
When students were asked what they learned, they shared these comments:

  • “I learned that so many people are in need and we can do something to help them.”
  •  “I am a treasure in God’s eyes.”
  • “We have to be open to God’s plan for us and be willing to move forward and take the next step.”
  • “That God has a plan, you just have to listen.  I always knew that, but now I believe it.”
  • “We learned about the struggles of others.”
Heather is thankful for the volunteers from Galveston churches, college students from Texas A&M Galveston and other friends who helped Invest in the Young with her in this type of teen ministry. “The thing that really makes this conference different is the inclusion of the mission breakout sessions on Saturday,” she explains. “We partnered with several mission organizations to give the youth opportunity to serve and to participate in experiences that will help them better understand some of the injustices in our world.  The hope was that the students would encounter God in a moving way at the conference and that these mission breakouts would give them some tangible ways to carry it out when they go home.”

Youth enjoyed music and worship led by the band OUTCRY. According to band leader Chris Cummings, “OUTCRY desires to be used by God to bring Him glory and praise.  We're devoted to seeing God's spirit move throughout worship and to see hearts set on one purpose, which is to bring worship to a deserving, righteous God.”

Students also enjoyed hands-on ministry and interaction in support of organizations including:
  • Ronald McDonald House- students helped make blankets to be given to new patients and their siblings as they check in.
  • Meals on Wheels- students learned about global hunger as they put soup ingredients in jars to be given to the meals on wheels clients in Galveston to provide another meal for them during the week or on the weekend. 
  • Serenity Ranch- students packaged hygiene kits to be given to the girls who have been freed from human trafficking. 
  • Restore Her- Executive directors from this Bryan organization that houses girls who have been rescued from human trafficking helped students to better understand the issue of trafficking and talk about ways that they can help.
  • Living Water- students walked to the beach carrying 5-gallon buckets full of water back to Moody UMC to get an understanding of the work that some people have to go through to get clean water.
  • Seaside Seniors- students got to know this group of senior adults that meet at Moody by playing games and praying with them.
Heather adds, “We also hosted a clothing drive at the conference for a homeless ministry in Galveston called Streetscape.  We encouraged participants to clean out their closets before arriving at the conference to bring those clothes to bless that ministry.” 
When asked how God moved in their life, several students shared these responses:
“it made me feel like it was real.”
“He helped me realize how I want to bring my friends to Jesus.”
“I feel like I’ve grown closer to Him.”
“He moved me to put Him first more than I do now.”
“He opened my eyes about the possibilities of the future.”

“When we hear students tell us things like: ‘I got out of my comfort zone and had a lot of fun,’ our youth workers get really excited about the foundation that this year will set for other conferences to happen in the future,” she shares.