My whole life was radically changed and dedicated to being on fire for Jesus after attending Ignite 2015, from June 2-4 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Manila!
First off, what is Ignite? Ignite is a three-day youth leadership conference hosted by Every Nation Campus – or in my words, the RADDEST party ever I’ve attended in the name of Jesus.
Because it had it all: mind-blowing worship concerts, intense and heart-wrenching messages delivered by stunning speakers, electric crowd participation, opportunities to be BFFs with amazing people from a crowd of 14,000 from 1,486 campuses and 36 countries, and last but definitely not the least, the unmistakable presence of the Holy Spirit. All in all, it wouldn’t be enough to say Ignite was an unforgettable experience; Ignite totally changed my life!
My Ignite experience began months before the actual conference in June. Since I was an international delegate, I had to raise my own funds, and our Nepal delegation also met after church every Saturday, starting from February.
We were all terribly excited the whole time, and to prove it, Diwas dai, the youngest Nepali delegate, was already dressed up and ready to go at 9AM on the day of our departure, even if our flight was still at 11PM!
After a tiring, 7 hour flight, with two stop-overs in Bangladesh and Malaysia, and having only five hours of sleep, we arrived all-smiles at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Saturday, May 29!
The first thing I did in Manila was to attend Elevate, CCF’s youth service, and have a small reunion with my barkada, albeit still a little hazed from having just arrived and taking too many things in at once. Saying goodbye to them was difficult, because I considered them my best friends, yet I couldn’t be with them for as much as I wanted. Realising that made me quite sad, and I must admit that I even cried about it.
On Monday, June 2, we attended the Ignite Pre-Conference at the Christ Commission Fellowship Centre along with 6,000 others, who were mostly international and provincial delegates. You could see a long row of buses parked out front on the CCF field, and it was pretty amazing realising how we were only three-sevenths of the number of people attending Ignite. Pastor Wayne Alcorn, from Youth Alive Australia, our first and my favourite speaker, likened the Ignite Conference as being the main course of a food menu, and the Pre-Conference as the starter. And boy, was it a scrumptious starter!
Our Nepal group had already attended two worship services the day before, but becoming part of a congregation that many while praising, listening to God’s Word, and agreeing in prayer was just wow. The fire had already started – and the conference hadn’t actually begun yet! Not for long, now. Ignite 2015 Day 1’s up next!
Aaaaaand, we were off! The worship started with a large ensemble of singers and instrumentalists dancing all around the stage, which set us jumping up and down the aisles in joy! From some seats up and to the left of the stage, it was breathtaking to see the whole worship team and audience of 14,000 worshipping God at the same time.
After, Pastor Wayne Alcorn gave us a heartfelt session, which was the main Ignite’s first and his last. He talked about “The Father’s Heart”, where I got the first most important lesson from Ignite: “There’s nothing you can do to make God love you less, and nothing you can do to make Him love you more – because you are His son or daughter, and there’s nothing that can ever change that. Even in the guilt and shame of your biggest, dumbest wrong decisions, God will wrap you in robes of righteousness just so He can call you son or daughter again.”
DAY TWO: Change the Campus!
“Change the Campus, Change the World.” This was one of the slogans during Ignite, in the logic that the next key leaders in society are all in the campuses, and if they are changed they will change the world as well.
Anyways, my shirt was pretty awesome, look:
Each speaker was fierce, and so were their words, that I was left crying uncontrollably, and so convicted that I told myself that I would no longer be living this life as my own.
I only discovered the mosh pit on this day (whyyyyyy). But anyways, it was amazing being with people as crazy as I was for praising God for a change (only a select few are gifted with that craziness), and knowing that it was for Jesus that I bathed in sweat from headbanging, screamed and chanted until my voice was hoarse, and danced to make up for not being able singing along made it 100000x better. (I couldn’t find a legit picture, sorry :c)
Day 2 concluded, but for dinner I headed to Seafood Island along with all the delegates from Nepal, two cities in China, and a South Asian country whose name I can’t mention here. We were the only ones inside of the restaurant, which was just as well because we hadn’t gotten over all the excitement and were singing “Ole, ole, ole, ole oleoleole!!” at the top of our lungs the whole time.
After eating about 10 mussels, half a tilapia, and a few slices of green mango, I went over to the dudes from the South-Asian-country-whose-name-I-can’t-mention’s table, whom I wanted to be friends with, since: 1.) South Asians are rad, 2.) Malala Yousafzai, who’s from the same country as them *wink, wink*, is one of my heroes, and 3.) they were more hyper than Filipinos (as you can see in the photo below), which I can’t believe is even possible, but it was possible 😮
I became good friends with two of those dudes – Aroon and Amir, and we talked about stuff like Malala, how the next generation will shake things up in the world as we know it, their suggesting me to take Mass Comm since they told me “you have a lot of things to say and you say it well”, and their life back home. Up until now, I’m still inspired by them, since they have the contagious passion to really become world-changers, and I’m excited to see how the world will indeed be changed by them!
DAY 3: Change the World – the last day huhu:
Sigh, but all these things must come to an end. It would be nice if I mentioned some more friends from other nations (and sections :P) whom I met there, since they were a big part of what made my Ignite experience memorable *wipes tears*
(top row: Cholpon and Sany from Kyrgyzstan, and Ate Angel (leftmost), their ‘tour guide’; Miah from New Zealand; Kyle, my former classmate from the Green Section three floors above us in the Grey section; middle row: Tita Kates from the Tech Booth; May from Laos; Fumi, Jessica, and Anna from Japan; last row: Meggie and Tan Siew from Malaysia; Kuya Ken from LPU, and Naya, as I mentioned earlier, from a floor above us in the Blue Section)
The international delegates also got their time to shine in this powerful number, where they sang Victory Worship’s “Great God” in their own languages, including our very own Maya Thapa. Yet, it was ultimately the One, of whom we were singing of, who owned the stage.
The worship numbers also wouldn’t go out without a bang:
At last, the music simmered down. Every Nation Campus Director Joseph Bonifacio came up on the stage, and said, “We’re going to end this conference in a different way.” Next, he called up several senior pastors to send us out by blessing us – like in the days of the Old Testament when fathers gave blessings from God to their children. Finally, they finished up their prayers of blessing, and we couldn’t believe that it was all over.
* * *
Goodbyes were said and a whole lot of selfies were taken, both with promises to keep in touch and to see each other again in Ignite 2017. We still got to attend an International Campus Mixer to have one last chance to see our friends from other countries again, and in the next days to meet our Filipino friends in malls, the beach, and several church services. It was with heavy hearts that we boarded our Malaysia Airlines flight back to Kathmandu on Monday, June 8.
And yet – I can still remember one thing Pastor Jackie stated on Day 2:
“Do you love this conference? [The crowd roars.] We’re all excited, right? [The crowd cheers.] But for how long would you be excited? [The crowd simultaneously murmurs.] Three days? Three weeks? Three months? Or the rest of our lives? [The crowd cheers again.]
You know, if it’s just emotional excitement, it’s worthless. Actually, it’s worse than worthless. It’s harmful. Because people see you as so excited – like whoa. But after three days, after three weeks, you got so offended, you got so defeated… I hope and pray, that what we experience here, is not just excitement from the conference, but the power of the Holy Spirit. God is gonna do something during these three days – during worship, during the preaching of His Word, during fellowshipping, praying together; God is gonna do something to your heart!”