Three hundred forty-seven youth from 15 different churches across Virginia and Ohio, along with another 200 friends from the local community took part in Bluefield College’s extreme sport and worship weekend, Winter Blast, January 15-16.
As designed, the youth had a blast on the ski slopes, rocked out with the band Fireflight, enjoyed the amazing antics of illusionist Jared Hall, worshiped with youth leader Andy Kirk, took part in spiritual discourse with evangelist David Nasser, learned more about life on the Bluefield College campus, and rededicated their life to Christ.
In fact, some 79 teens made professions of faith during the two-day youth conference, including 35 who made first time decisions to follow Christ.
“The energy around this time of praise, worship and fellowship was amazing,” said BC president, Dr. David Olive. “I was thrilled to see so many young people from churches all across Virginia. I pray their lives were touched in meaningful ways as they deepened their faith, strengthened friendships, and experienced tremendous fun on campus and on the slopes.”
Winter Blast began Friday, January 15 with an evening session with Kirk, a worship leader, singer and songwriter from Nashville, Tennessee, and Hall, who uses illusions to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Singing songs from his most recent CD release, “Wake Up My Soul,” Kirk led the youth in a soulful session of worship, while Hall entertained the teens with a number of tricks, including escaping from a strait jacket and making objects float around the stage.
“Winter Blast was a huge success,” said BC’s Kris Hardy. “Not only did we far exceed our attendance goal, but we more than doubled the attendance from last year. We were blessed to have some amazing talent come through the doors this year. Everyone who attended got to see a little bit of everything.”
Nasser, one of the nation’s forefront speakers and visionaries whose ministry reaches out to the high-tech, attention-lacking culture of Generation Next, added to day one with his passionate, relevant, life-changing messages designed to “connect people to the living God.”
“Winter Blast was like a youth pastor’s dream come true,” said Kris Clifford, a minister to students at Columbia Baptist Church in Falls Church, Virginia. “I usually come home from trips emotionally and physically exhausted from stressing and organizing everything, but not this trip. I actually came home with some energy and didn’t take 24 hours to recover.”
Day one of Winter Blast concluded with a pizza party, inflatable games, and a dodgeball tournament involving 17 teams. Mechanicsville Baptist Church won the competitive contest and took home a 26-inch trophy as an award.
Following breakfast on Sunday, January 16, the Winter Blast participants hit the slopes at nearby Winterplace Ski Resort. Among the skiers on the 28 trails, nine lifts, snowtube park, and top elevation of 3,600 feet was the Bluefield College Ram. In fact, the teens had to find the mascot on the slopes, catch him, and present him with a name card that qualified them for prizes later in the day.
“I had so much fun at Winter Blast,” said Christa Morris of Lynchburg, Virginia. “I’m applying to Bluefield next year, and I really hope I get in, because it’s my number one choice. The campus is beautiful, and the people there are so welcoming.”
After a long day on the slopes, the Winter Blast guests returned to the BC campus for dinner and a final worship session, this time featuring the award-winning rock band Fireflight, whose most recent CD, “For Those Who Wait,” earned the group its first Grammy Award nomination. An additional 200 guests from the community joined the more than 300 Winter Blast youth for the Fireflight show.
“We wanted the people who attended Winter Blast to experience more than just your typical ski retreat,” said Hardy. “We wanted to create an environment where the kids would experience an amazing worship service, have time to fellowship with their friends, and cut lose at one of the best attended rock concerts Bluefield has hosted in years.”
Bluefield College’s Winter Blast takes place each year on the Saturday and Sunday prior to Martin Luther King Day in January. For more information, visit bluefield.edu/ski or e-mail [email protected].