Norfolk hosts major Christian youth festival
This week over 6,000 young people camped at the Norfolk Showground for a major Christian youth festival, Newday, enjoying high quality teaching, passionate worship and exciting entertainment. Jenny Seal reports.
With tents stretched out as far as the eye can see, the Norfolk Showground is currently home to over 6,300 young people aged 12-19. The thousands of young people have come with their youth leaders from 185 Christian youth groups across the country and beyond; some travelling from as far as Holland, Germany and South Africa.
For six days from Monday, August 1 - Saturday, August 6, Newday 2016 will give young people from a diverse mix of churches the opportunity to give their lives to God and to grow on that journey, encouraged by engaging speakers, powerful worship, amazing testimonies, a varied programme of seminars and a festival atmosphere promoting fun and friendship.
It is a massive operation with high standards of care and security. Almost 800 volunteers give up their holiday and free time to come and serve the young people, including a medical team with A&E doctors and nurses.
Sue and Phil Parker, who attend St Thomas Norwich, have volunteered as Newday servers for nine years. Their role is to welcome those who are new to the festival, show them around and answer any questions. Sue explained: “We all try to do things excellently. That is reflected in the Newday strapline of Ezra 10v4, ‘Rise up, take courage and do it.’”
In the mornings separate meetings are run for 12-14s and 15-19s. This time of worship and teaching is followed by a choice of nine seminar streams, which aim to appeal to a wide spectrum of young people at different points on their Christian journey. There are streams for those new to the Christian faith, for those who want to explore tough issues, and for those seeking to practically put their faith into action through an Outreach Bootcamp which prepares young people to evangelise on the streets of Norwich at the end of the week. And new to Newday this year is a seminar stream designed to equip and resource youth leaders themselves.
The afternoons pass with a mix of sport, skate competitions, workshops in music production, vlogging and break dance, manicures and Nerf games.
Then the Big Top event in the evening brings everyone together. Inside the giant blue tent are thousands of young people dressed mainly in shorts, sitting on cushions under strings of lights and in front of big screens and a well-lit stage.
High energy, passionate worship is led by the Newday band including worship leaders Simon Brading and Sam and Becki Cox who introduce their own, purpose written songs as well as sharing others contemporary songs that are recognisable to many churches.
Healing is a regular part of the Big Top meetings. On Wednesday evening the well-known Christian speaker, Adrian Holloway led a time of healing, interviewing six people who shared their experiences of being healed at Newday last year, many clutching written verification from their medical professionals.
He then led the tent in times of prayer for those needing healing, encouraging those who had been prayed for to test out whether they had been healed. Chris, a physiotherapist with Norwich City Academy, testified that he had been suffering from plantar fasciitis, a disorder affecting the heel and bottom of the foot, and now felt no pain.
On Wednesday evening worship leader and singer Lou Fellingham (pictured right), gave the main talk inspiring the young people to take hold of God’s amazing plans for their lives. In an accessible, easy to understand, chatty street style, Lou used the story of David and Goliath to encourage the thousands of young people to be the people that God had made them to be and to follow their God given purpose.
She said: “God is a creative God. He didn’t make us
all the same. God actually thought about you. He put every single part of you together. There may be things that people don’t get about you. But God has woven you together.”
Following the evening meetings the concourse outside the Big Top comes alive with fairy lights and lanterns, housing a range of venues and cafes to chill out in, including The Cow Shed which will make 10,000 milkshakes throughout the week. Young people can spend their evenings in the Nerf arena, playing on the dodgems, watching vintage films on a big screen cinema or dancing in the Rhythm Factory which hosts artists such as Guvna B.
And once things begin to close down at 11.15pm youth leaders can sleep soundly knowing that great care is taken to make sure the site is safe, secure and a night patrol are always on hand to help any young people who stray from their tents.
Many Norfolk church youth groups are currently taking advantage of having such a major Christian resource on their doorstep. If you would like to know more about Newday 2017
on Monday, July 31 – Saturday, August 5
go to www.newdaygeneration.org
Photo of Lou Fellingham: From Lou Fellingham's Instagram at www.instagram.com/p/BIra9w-DDf6/