Unite Us

Unite Us

How the Leaders of Tomorrow Are Leading Us Today. Voices from CHIC.

September 5, 2018

This summer 5,000 students gathered at the University of Tennessee Knoxville for CHIC, the Covenant’s triennial youth gathering. The theme was Unite, so the Companion convened a diverse group of students from across the Covenant to share about their experiences at the event, how God is working in their lives, and what it means to them for the church to “unite.”

Nailah Sutherland

Kingdom Builders Covenant Church
Conyers, Georgia

I always wondered why I was having such awesome revelations and experiences at church and then I got to school and lost it. Honestly, it was a battle. When speaker Robert Madu said God takes you to the water and then to the wilderness, that spoke to me personally.

My passion is helping people escape boxes—emotionally, spiritually, mentally, anywhere in their lives. I want to help people realize that it’s okay to be weird, it’s okay to embrace who you are.

Future Plans: To follow my heart in the arts—singing, dancing, drawing, painting. And I’d love to pursue archaeology. I have always been interested in studying different points of view of history, digging deeper, and attempting to read between the lines of the past. The idea of discovering something nobody has ever seen or cared to see the beauty in gets me excited!

Matthew Gonzalez

Fountain of Life Covenant Church
Long Beach, California

When my uncle’s boss died, his family asked us to come help clean out his house. They were throwing away thousands of books, and I took two Bibles. I started reading the Gospels for the first time—it really transformed my views and I discovered Christianity. My mom has a shop that sells ice cream and sandwiches. Fountain of Life has a shop called 5000 Pies and they moved in right next to her place. I got connected there, and I’ve been there ever since.

I came to CHIC as a volunteer on the security team and I haven’t been with my group really. I feel like I’m called to leadership and it’s a little bit lonely. The communion service stood out to me—it was really impactful. It was a reminder of the sacrifice Christ made for us and the love he has for us. I was bawling my eyes out.

Future Plans: I’m really feeling called to the life of a pastor or missionary.

Cameron Miya

First Covenant Church of Oakland
Oakland, California

I’ve led a worship team at my church for two years, and music has always been a part of my life. I think we can unite around music because it’s a universal language that we can all speak—even though we come from different backgrounds. One of my favorite things is seeing people in the church unite together for worship.

At CHIC God has shown me that the body of Christ is one of the strongest communities in the world. I have found that it’s easy to talk to people and say hello, especially if you’re united in the love of Christ. The dorms and elevators are some of the loudest places because everyone introduces themselves and asks, “Where are you from?” That can start a whole conversation, and it shows that the church isn’t bound by walls. The body of Christ can be created wherever there is love and grace shown for one another.

Future plans: I would choose a career in music and math because these are the gifts that God has blessed me with.

Natalie Johnson

Evangelical Covenant Church
Attleboro, Massachusetts

Throughout my life I’ve had God moments where I felt like God was super present and right there next to me. Once at Camp Squanto in Swanzey, New Hampshire, during worship the leaders shut off all the instruments, all the lights, the fans, every noise—we were in complete darkness and we sang a song with an echo between the women and men. It was absolutely beautiful. I got chills. Right then and there, I thought, I want this for the rest of my life.

Two things I’ve learned this week: first, everyone worships differently. I’m the type of person who likes to jump up and down, raise my hands to the sky, and sing as loud as I can. I thought that’s how everyone likes to worship. But one of my best friends here likes to worship by listening, standing still. That opened my eyes to the different ways that people worship.

The second thing is reaffirming that you’re never too young to make a difference in the world. Being here, I got to see so many young leaders. I got to see their passion for helping others and being what God has called them to be.

Future plans: Youth ministry, working with kids, and helping others, especially in the area of mental health.

Alexander Rivers

Scammon Bay Covenant Church
Scammon Bay, Alaska

At home, our village is like one big family—everybody is really together, united. If someone catches food, they pass it around to everyone. Most of it goes to the elders. One of our traditions is with your very first catch of any animal, you give it away. That’s how we unite in my home.

One night on MainStage, the speaker told us to put our hands up and close our eyes. When I closed my eyes, I had a vision of God reaching down and grabbing my hand. Back then I didn’t really listen to my parents, did all the wrong stuff. From going to Bible camp in Unalakleet to coming here, I felt like I’ve gotten so, so close to God. I’ve never felt so loved and close to someone.

Future plans: Getting closer to God.

Decoding CHIC Speak

CHIC: The triennial Covenant youth event held since 1956. Once referring to Covenant High Congress, the acronym now stands for Covenant High in Christ.

MainStage: Each evening all 5,000 participants gathered for worship, with the CHIC band and other musical guests. Speakers were Chris Durso, Megan Fate Marshman, Robert Madu, Eugene Cho, and Albert Tate.

Basecamp: In the mornings students gathered in one of four breakout sessions: Make and Deepen Disciples, Develop Leaders, Love Mercy Do Justice, and Serve Globally.

Small Groups: After Basecamps and MainStage events, students gathered with their counselors and youth groups to reflect on what they’d heard and pray together.

Excursions: Students had the option to participate in off-site activities such as whitewater rafting, cave tours, ropes course, horseback riding, and paintball.

The Nest: A general gathering space with various booths and activities was available to students during free time.

Isabella Musherure

Crossroads Church
Woodbury, Minnesota

I was born in America but my parents are from Uganda. When I was eleven, my family and I moved to Uganda for two years. My dad stayed back in the States and came to visit us two to three times a year. In those two years I learned about my culture and built relationships. God was always with us—it was an unforgettable experience.

I enjoy hearing from people my age. I like things like this where we can talk about our faith or the conflicts and joys of everyday life. Being Ugandan American, I like to educate people on my culture, and I like to listen and learn about other people’s cultures as well.

I’m going to be a senior soon and I’ve been wondering, what is God’s purpose for my life? Last night after communion, my two pastors prayed over me—I’ll never forget it. They prayed with power—I don’t know how else to explain it. I know God was present. It confirmed what I think I’ve been called to do, which is to pray for and encourage people.

Future plans: I’m interested in psychology and business. When I go back home, I hope to join the prayer and worship team at my church.

Nate Broad

Lighthouse Community Church
Sarnia, Ontario

One of the biggest things I’m passionate about is helping people find where they fit. I believe that’s so hard in society today where we don’t really know who we are or how we act. We can unite around finding where you’re supposed to fit, because then the world, society, can be a better place.

This week I met God in many places, especially during Robert Madu’s talk when he said, “Declare this with me: ‘I am loved, I am a child of God, and he is pleased with me.’” Sitting in that moment after communion, I was in prayer and really felt, “How amazing would that make you feel if you declared that every day.” That would help you know who you are as a person, help your confidence grow, help you know who you belong to.

Future Plans: I would love to be involved in the political side of the world. I’ve seen lots of issues that need correcting as well as a lot of missteps in our society.

Marissa Dea-Mattson

West Hills Covenant Church
Portland, Oregon

Throughout my life I’ve noticed that as an Asian American I’ve had a hard time speaking up and showing people that I want to be heard. I’ve always struggled with my identity and who I am. When I attended the Asian American ethnic association meeting here at CHIC, I saw all these people who looked like me and I really felt God’s love and passion flow through the room and into me. It made me realize that I’m not alone, God is with me, all these people are with me. I felt like I belonged there.

Future Plans: I want to work through foster care as a social worker or be a psychologist because I love to help people and listen
to them.

Noah Mitchell

First Covenant Church of Oakland
Oakland, California

My passion is trying to include everyone, making everyone safe and comfortable—whether it’s emotionally, spiritually, or physically. I sort of know what it’s like to be an outsider, not to be able to voice your opinions with certain groups of people. I don’t want anyone to have to deal with the things I had to deal with when I was younger.

This week God has shown me brokenness, not only in myself and others but within the world. God has shown me that it is our mission to help fix that brokenness. I’ve never been in a place like CHIC before where you can go out and have a conversation literally with anyone. Everyone is so nice and warm and inviting because they strive to be like Jesus. So I know if I’m following behind someone at CHIC, I’ll be following Jesus.

Future plans: I’d probably pursue a path in engineering or communications with a minor in journalism while running track and field at the Olympic level.

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