On January 31, 9 youth and two sponsors left Hillsboro after lunch and headed to Hesston in a loud, laughter filled van. And all had a blast!
Youth pastor Hank Unruh and junior high sponsor Laura Paulus took six of our 6th-8th graders and 3 of their friends to the overnight WDC conference called Know Jesus. Hank served as the male sponsor for Carson, Caleb, and Joe while Laura served as the female sponsor for Sarah, Victoria, Sarah P and their three friends Jessi, Maddie and Serinda.
After registering, everyone went out in the cold rain and participated in a scavenger hunt on the Hesston Campus. This was to help everyone become familiar with the campus in preparation for the evening’s event of playing the Anabaptist Game. Those who did not enjoy being cold and wet were a little nervous about what the weekend would hold, but thankfully that was the worst of the bad weather. The weather and activities only got better after that!
After some ice breaker games and general information, everyone joined together to worship and then hear a great message. Everyone went off to eat in the Hesston cafeteria which was a lot of fun. There were lots of food and beverage options. Hank and Laura cringed a bit as a few of the kids helped themselves to multiple refills of various caffeine loaded beverages, but everyone behaved splendidly!
Session 2 had more songs and a speaker. Then everyone was given instructions for playing the Anabaptist game. This is a strategic, role playing game that serves to help the players understand more of what the early Anabaptists went through.
The group had to go to find various safe houses around campus where various scenes were acted out by various Hesston college students and faculty and staff. The actors did an amazing job, combine with the dark, cold night, provided a very realistic experience. The group heard several stories about various Anabaptists including Hector Mondragon, Dirk Willems, Betteken Wens, a group of Anabaptists praying in secret, Margaretha Sattler, Conrad Grebel, and Hesston staff Ron Moyo.
What made all of it so real was the fact that there were actors serving as spies, helpers and soldiers. Getting from one safe house to the next involved careful planning and teamwork. And sometimes, the group still got arrested in spite of their best efforts. The FMC group did end up getting arrested one time when they got tricked by soldiers who had extinguished their torches and were hiding in the shadows.
Once arrested, the group was taken to trial. There, prisoners were questioned about their faith and why they believed the things they did. Hank and Laura watched some of the students really get into it, but we will not reveal who held on the tightest to us and held our hands while being led off to the dungeon! This same person later expressed that they learned what a coward they were, and everyone probably felt some fear themselves at one point or another during the game.
At the end of the game, we all went back and debriefed in our own group. This may have been the sponsor’s favorite part as they watched the kids connect with the stories and their own faith. Every single one of our youth offered valuable insights with the group. Most agreed that the favorite story was Ron Moyo who actually shared his own story of growing up in Zimbabwe. Hearing him tell his story and knowing it happened in our modern day setting was extremely eye opening for everyone.
We won’t talk about the sleeping portion since not much sleeping got done! We will say that some people snore, some giggle, some can sleep through anything and some only sleep a little bit when not in their own beds. And the poor guys had to sleep on a gym floor….after an all day basketball tournament. Yuck!
The weekend ended with another session of worship and a speaker and then brunch. As they packed up and headed home, everyone talked about how much fun they had and began planning for the next Know Jesus conference in 2017.
Here are a few pictures from the conference: