You are in my backyard,” Pastor Rudy tells me, on Thursday
afternoon, February 20, as we meet in the lobby of a Hilton hotel in Miami, FL.
Pastor Rudy is Rodolfo Alvir, associate youth director of the Florida Conference
of SDA. The Hilton hotel in Miami is where thousands of dynamic Adventist
youth, along with their visionary and committed leadership have flocked to this
year’s annual international prayer conference, Just Claim It [JCI]
sponsored by the Youth Department of the North American Division of Seventh-day
Even before I got to the hotel I was texting Pastor Rudy
telling him that I was on my way. “I’m at IGNITION,” he texted back. Wow! That’s a great name, I thought. And
found out what it meant.IGNITION is
a place for people with a passion for God, people who are not afraid to believe
that He can use them to make the world better in their generation. They meet
together for three days of worship, deepening community, and learning together
how to lead with ever increasing influence.
Pastor Rudy took me into the auditorium where the evening’s
program was progressing. I heard Mary Grace play brilliant piano with the five
fingers of her left hand, and half a right arm that she calls her stub. “I was
made perfectly after all,” Mary Grace explains as she holds out the stub that
is her right arm. Her arm is abbreviated in just the right way for her to be
able to play the melodies of her pieces with it. Meanwhile, her left hand sweeps
the keyboard with glorious arpeggios and arrests the audience with commanding
chords. Long ago, her mom made a deal with her music teacher: “You teach Mary
Grace how to play with her one hand and I’ll pay you for the cost of two
hands!” Last night, to extol the glory of the God whose loves her she
executed—what else? “How Great Thou Art!”
At the climax of our Thursday evening JCI experience, Pastor Greg Nelson, senior pastor of the Madison
Mission Church in Alabama led us through a service of praise, worship, and the
Word. He wanted to talk, he said, about this idea of just claiming God’s
promises, about just saying you want it, and you get it! It turns out that it
isn’t that simple, or fickle, or trivial. Because, as Pastor Nelson explained,
“you don’t win when you get your way! You win when you get God’s will.” His
topic was Jacob. Jacob never won out over his scheming, and cheating, and lying
habits until God confined him, confronted him, conquered him, and crippled him.
And when, at the dawn of a new day, Jacob limped away after his all night
struggle with God, he was walking tall on broken legs. Submission to God is
when you claim it. Submission to God is how you claim it.
Just Claim Itruns through Sunday, February 23.