My AYC Experience
It’s July 19th and I’m walking off of my plane in Nashville, TN. Currently residing in Murfreesboro, TN, the drive home only takes 45 minutes. But it’s not the drive home that I’m excited about, but rather sharing my week-long experience in Washington, D.C. with some of the coolest people on God’s planet. This is my account of AYC D.C. 2010.
It started off when I was 16 years old with a burden God gave me to see souls won. Throughout the years God has opened many doors for me to grow in ministry; through witnessing, teaching Bible studies, and traveling and preaching, God has taken me places in my 6 years of ministry that many ministers never get to go. It was a Sunday in September, and my pastor’s wife came up to me and mentioned that she had been at a conference where a video for AYC was playing and one of the destinations was Washington, D.C. Sister DePriest knew that I had a burden for souls. She also knew that I felt God was grooming me for world evangelism, and my never-ending fascination with government also played a big part in this; and anyone who knows me and is reading this is shaking their head in agreement. After about 3 weeks of prayer I decided to step out in faith and proclaim that I was going to Washington, D.C. Through numerous donations from friends, family, and ministries—which, is a story on its own—God provided enough funds for me to join the largest group to attend a North American AYC mission trip in AYC history.
The trip getting to D.C. was an adventure in itself. On both of my flights I was able to witness and discuss Bible with the person sitting next to me. When I finally arrived I started to notice all the places I had only seen in books. Here I was riding by our nation’s capital, and at a distance I could see the Washington Monument. Already I was starting to feel like a kid in a candy factory. When I finally arrived at the hotel I was greeted by both Sister Wiseman and Sister Ensey.
Upon arriving at the home of our host pastor, Brother Staten, I was introduced to his kind family who made me feel right at home. You would think arriving at someone’s home that you really don’t know would be intimidating, but the whole Staten family made me feel like I was part of the family. It was there that I met the rest of the group who had traveled from all across the country. Once again you would think that these things would be awkward—meeting new people—but honestly that feeling didn’t last very long at all. Within the first 5 minutes of meeting each other, we were starting to joke with one another and got to know each other past the usual “hi”. That night Brother Wiseman and Brother Ensey had us go around the room and introduce ourselves again and tell why we came on this mission. For the most part we all had the same thing in common; we wanted to be a part of starting a revival and winning souls in our nation’s capital. What we didn’t know is that the Staten family and the church they pastored had already fueled the fires of revival in that city, and that on this mission we wouldn’t be walking out thanking God that we were able to bring revival to D.C.; but that we were in a participant in the revival that had already been stirred. That night was the beginning of a week-long adventure in the Spirit, friendship, and revival in our lives.
The night before we had an awesome prayer meeting, with the Spirit of God so thick in that place it was unreal. God was using us as we exercised the gifts that He had given to us as we prayed for one another. Monday morning I remember waking up and placing my feet on the ground and saying to myself, “Well, here we go”. During this mission I had no thoughts of wasting any time at all. I wanted to experience everything that was possible on this trip, and I do thank God for the invention of the camera, because each picture I took reminds me of another great time I experienced on this AYC trip.
Each morning we would meet for breakfast and then join together in prayer. Brother Ensey would explain what our mission of the day was and we would break up into two teams. One team would go to Senate Park right next to the Capital, and the other group would go to a park right across from the church. On my first day in Senate Park I met Reverend Al Sharpton, who was in 2004 a presidential candidate for the Democratic Nomination. I introduced myself, got a picture with him; and some of the people who joined me in passing out church invitations for our special Saturday and Sunday service handed Mr. Sharpton one as well. We passed out many invites that day and shared our testimonies with those who were interested. At both sites both teams set up for outside worship services where many people joined us in worship right there on the streets of Washington, D.C. and right next to the Capital. During this time I met many types of people from “regular Joes”, to homeless people, to rich business people, and of course politicians. Between Monday and Saturday we must have passed out hundreds of invitations, and I’m not exactly sure how many people we actually prayed with on the streets. People who normally like to say in their comfort zones were pulled out.
Besides the spiritual aspect of the AYC trip, we took time to relax and site-see. Washington, D.C. is a beautiful place with over 591,000 people living there. D.C. is a mega zone for American and world history. From the feet of the Capital, to the Lincoln Monument, to the gates of the White House, to the breathtaking WWII memorial monument, Washington, D.C. is a place you should really consider visiting. Most of the traveling took place in the subways, and many times we would find ourselves at Union Station located right outside of the Capital. We took a tour of the halls of Congress and even sat in both chambers (and I won’t even lie; I pointed out the chair that—if I was ever to run and be elected to the Senate by the state of Tennessee—I would be casting my votes from; and I know you’re thinking, “nerd” by now, but every guy has a nerd in him. Mine so happens to be government.) We stood outside the gates of the White House where I thought to myself, “The West Wing makes it seem a lot bigger”. We toured the Jefferson, Lincoln, WWII, and Korean War monuments. But my favorite was the newest monument presented by President Clinton in memory of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. While we were touring the monument, stories that my grandma had told me about the days of the Great Depression and WWII rang loud in my mind—and how a single man, crippled himself (though the country didn’t know it at the time) was a sign of strength to those who themselves were broken. While touring these monuments even today I get teary-eyed just thinking about the strength this country has shown through times of development, times of Civil War, times of depression, and times of World War and peace… that a country of many types of ethnic backgrounds, heritage, opinions, and times of hardships and struggles could stick together and be one. While these monuments remind me of times of struggles, war, and peace, I can’t help but thank the Lord Almighty for letting me live in such a great country.
By the time the Saturday and Sunday services had arrived we were all ready and excited to join together and worship God for the harvest of souls he would be bringing. Living Hope United Pentecostal Church saw many first-time visitors whose lives were changed that week—not only in the building itself but even on the streets. During one Bible study a few of us had with a family, the Spirit of God moved strongly. After the study we began to sing praises to God with that family and prayed all throughout the house for God to move in the lives of the rest of the family. Both the husband and wife believed God had healed them, and they now wanted their son to experience the salvation of the Lord. One thing I loved about the church in D.C. was how multicultural it was; 27 different nationalities in one building praising God. It looked like a picture you’d see from heaven. During the services themselves the AYC’ers led the worship, and—though the Lord has not granted me the talent of leading worship—I did get a chance to speak to the congregation with a Spanish interpreter; and Brother Michael Ensey preached to the church. The duty mayor of New York and his daughter joined us in worship and asked that we lay hands on his daughter because she was having some issues with her leg. Altogether the service was unlike anything I’ve been apart of yet.
With all the excitement of a week of growing spiritually and in friendship, it was time to come together one last time. We had gotten a private room in the back of a restaurant where we shared laughs, tears, and WOW/MOM moments. Just like on the first night we had a chance to go around the room and talk about the trip. That night I realized that the friendships God had placed in my life were not for a week, but for a lifetime. Looking across the room I saw many talents, burdens, and honestly downright cool people who I honestly wished would all pack their things and move to Murfreesboro, TN. The last thing I remember saying to the group as a whole before we finally departed was that any church would be lucky to have them in their congregation. I was sitting with 27 young people who felt the same burden I did, faced the same temptations everyday, and were made over comers through the blood of Jesus and were not ashamed to let the whole Capital know it. That night, 5 of us went next door to the restaurant next to the hotel and shared dessert and just talked and laughed. Each of us would randomly mention how the next day wouldn’t be the same. By early that next morning we had developed a plan to meet up again. As we all hugged, we promised each other we’d stay in contact, and the revival we felt in D.C. would go home with us.
The experiences I felt from the AYC mission trip to Washington, D.C. have changed my life, both spiritually and emotionally. If God opens a door for you to go, then I recommend it. The experiences I had and felt were also felt by 27 other people, high school and college age. If you are reading this and you are hungry for more of God, wanting to personally see Book of Acts revival, fighting getting outside of your comfort zone, and the thought of establishing friendships that will last forever; then by all means…. YOU GO!