As most of you know, I'm in my 4th year of Seminary and HOPE to graduate next year with my Master of Arts in Christian Education degree *fingers crossed!!*
A big part of my degree program is to travel to New Orleans and to the hub campus in Atlanta to take workshops. As most students do, I put all of these hours off until the very end... all 30 of them. HA! You see, I spent the first three years of seminary driving back and forth to Clinton, MS every Monday for class and I've been working the whole time. So needless to say, adding additional workshops was the last thing on my mind... until NOW!
My friend Ashley & I loaded up last week and headed to Atlanta to the Catalyst Conference. Of course we HAD to visit The Varsity for dinner the very first night we were there. I'm not sure why, but this was first visit. I wasn't all that impressed with the food, but I can say that I experienced the whole "What'll You Have" fun that everyone has when they visit this landmark!!
I'll admit, I went in blind for this conference. I was just thinking that it was going to be boring ole school and that I'd be bored most of the time. BOY WAS I WRONG!! We joined with 13,000 other "leaders" in the Gwinnett Arena and listened to names like Andy Stanley, Dave Ramsey, Priscilla Shirer, Francis Chan, Mark Batterson, Joel Houston and Hillsong, Mark Driscoll, Jim Collins, Blake Mycoskie (the TOMS guy), Katie Davis, and my new personal favorite, Judah Smith. Ya'll. Oh my word. I can't even begin to tell you everything that I learned from spending three days with these people. We were able to worship. We were able to spend lots of time in prayer. We were able to escape from our "real world" of answering emails and texts and worrying about school and work and were able to listen to the One who matters the Most. I came back from the conference with a whole new meaning of what it means to truly "BE PRESENT" in every little thing I do. It's not going to be easy, but I'm having to learn to get rid of a lot of stuff in my life that doesn't matter anymore so that I won't experience burnout and most importantly that I'll be able on focusing on the calling that God has given me in my life.
Not only were we able to listen to all of these speakers, we were part of a record breaking experience. We read the entire Bible in 60 seconds. Yep, all 13,000 of us. We each were given a postcard with a portion of scripture and on the count of 3, we all went to reading it aloud. It was actually a really awesome experience!
Jeff Foxworthy also made an appearance and talked about his volunteer work with Mission Atlanta. This is a shelter for men that are struggling with addiction or don't have a place to live. Jeff leads a Bible Study each Tuesday and brought two of the men he mentors and disciples with him to the conference. They have broken away from the chains of addiction and they are actually on the streets, helping bring men into the shelter so that they will be able to know the Lord too. One of the problems they were faced with is that they didn't have transportation to get to certain parts of Atlanta. Catalyst surprised these two men with a brand new Ford Focus and I'm pretty sure that there were 13,000 people with tears flowing! It was an absolutely overwhelming experience!!
We had great seats, so I was able to get some really good pictures of some of the speakers!