Real. Present. God.

by Halle Randall and Ava Blankenship
As we heard from the High School youth on Sunday about their experience in Minneapolis at the 2019 National Youth Gathering, we know they had a great time. Lots of fun was had, but most importantly they saw God at work. They learned God is a Real. Present. God. Halle Randall, a leader for our youth at NYG and Ava Blankenship, a High School youth, share with us some of their personal experiences and take-away from the event.


Halle’s account:

The 2019 National Youth Gathering was uplifting, refreshing, and eye-opening. Every time I attend a gathering, I am always blown away by how many people are there for the same purpose. It was much different than past gatherings I have attended in that we had to travel much farther to get to the Mass Event and Convention Center. Minneapolis is a much smaller city, so it seemed a little cramped at times for so many people. However, the message of Real. Present. God. could not have been better portrayed. The speakers did an amazing job of getting this message across by using the Psalms as a tool to do so. It was different for me to be on the adult leader end rather than the participant or volunteer end, but I loved watching the kids and listening to their takes on different topics and speakers throughout the week. The NYG was different than I expected, but different was a good thing.


Events like these will always be worth my time and money. Not only am I giving my time to these kids to make sure that they have a great experience, but I feel as though this is also me giving my time to God. I definitely grew in my faith throughout the six days of the gathering, and I look at it as a time of prayer and presence. It is the perfect break from the craziness of everyday life to remind yourself to slow down and be with God. Each gathering I have attended has had a positive effect on my faith, so that makes it a great use of both money and time.


My takeaway from the gathering was that you never know what a person is going through, and that was obvious even just within our small group. But God is ever present through it all both at your highest high and your lowest low. I have always known this, but it was great to hear it and feel it be reaffirmed throughout the week of the NYG. I am so glad I got to spend this time with the kids and other adults in our group, and again I am just so thankful to Zion for giving me a church home. I am looking forward to what the 2022 gathering in Houston will bring!


Ava’s account:

I had an amazing experience at the National Youth Gathering. It was cool to visit the city of Minneapolis and get to try new restaurants, meet some locals and see the city.


While in Minneapolis there were a few instances where we got to see the gathering theme Real. Present. God. firsthand. One instance that particularly stood out to me took place on the lite rail. It was around midnight and we were headed back to our hotel. A homeless man entered the train and started to get overwhelmed by the hundreds of people crammed on the train. A lady attending the gathering knelt down and prayed with him. It was amazing to see God’s presence through His people. The gathering taught me about our Real. Present. God. through speakers, breakout sessions, and firsthand experiences.


Another thing I loved about the gathering was getting closer to my fellow youth. My favorite memory was one night after dinner we had leftover tater tots. We approached other youth groups, offering them tater tots if they answered a question correctly. We decided to ask them, “What is the capital of Ohio?”. People struggled to find the answer, but it was fun to interact with people from around the country – people I typically wouldn’t get the chance to talk to.


All in all I loved going to NYG and can’t wait to attend the 2022. NYG in Houston!