By Brandon & Samantha, Working Adults, Tree of Life Community
We attended EXALT21 virtually from home and invited our friends who have two daughters. Although the two daddies have been friends for about 25 years, this was the first time our families gathered together for a Catholic event (outside of the Sacraments)!
Pictured here is Brandon on the extreme left and Samantha in the middle.
Prior to the actual day, we were prompted through the EXALT 21 spiritual preparation to make our home a place to welcome hearts, not just to experience our family’s love, but more essentially, God’s love! It was God’s call for us to transform our passive mindsets into one in which we boldly encourage all whom we receive into our homes to raise their eyes to Jesus.
Inviting our friends to attend EXALT21 together with us was challenging as we knew that the dynamics of our friendship would change. In particular, we were challenged not to merely consume or watch EXALT21 as just another live program, but to actively serve as co-labourers at EXALT21.
As a family, we tidied and prepared our home to welcome our guests. Our daughter, Sarah, even helped to decorate the table with some chocolates and tea to warmly welcome them!
As the EXALT21 programme began, we could sense the Holy Spirit moving in our hearts as we listened to the preaching. The children enjoyed the games, worship action songs, as well as the creative Safe Management Measures song put together by the emcees!
As the children got down to colouring the beautiful EXALT21 artwork in the children’s Gospel pack and writing their letter to Jesus, our friends were in awe at the gifts and talents that God has blessed OYP and our youths with! They asked if the event was run by professional vendors and how much it cost. While this seemed like an innocent remark, we thank God that their hearts were moved by Jesus as they witnessed the many people who chose to selflessly dedicate their time, talent and energy to praise the name of Jesus.
We received many truths proclaimed by the speakers who preached so zealously, bearing witness to their deep relationship they have with Jesus. In particular, we were touched by God’s message that we are all loved and known by Jesus amidst the anonymity, isolation and uncertainties in our current Covid-19 times. This penetrated our souls and hearts and we were once again inspired that the word of God is truly alive and active.
As we approached noon, the toddlers were sleepy, older girls were hungry and everyone’s attention became quite dispersed. Despite the seemingly distracting and chaotic scene of managing the children’s needs, by God’s grace, we managed to carve out some time and space to sit everyone down to intentionally pray together for the first time in our 25 years of friendship!
As we lifted up our feelings and tiredness, we felt a deep sense of peace among us and a spirit of thanksgiving to God for all that has unfolded in our lives. There also arose in us a sense of conviction for us to be more spiritually disciplined to develop our children’s relationship with Jesus. Above all, we claim God’s victory for the breakthrough in our friendship!
As our friends’ two year old daughter basked in the intimate moment of prayer, she spontaneously burst into the song singing “Jesus loves me this I know…!” We joined her in it and that was our closing song. Through this experience, our Lord has truly drawn all of us to Himself and we pray to be more intentional in having spiritual conversations in our next meet-ups.
With hearts of gratitude and mission, we thank God for reigniting our faith during the EXALT21 weekend and we pray for the strength and courage to continue serving Him and drawing more hearts towards Him and for His Kingdom!