CHICAGO, IL (May 21, 2015) – Every three years when the call goes out for volunteers to help at CHIC, some people wonder whether it’s worth paying the registration fee ($599 this year) to take a week’s vacation to work at the triennial gathering, especially if they have no family members attending.
The ECC youth event draws roughly 5,500 students from around the world and is heavily dependent upon volunteers. Covenant Newswire emailed three volunteers to ask why they keep coming back.
Jean Mohrweis attends First Covenant Church in Seattle, Washington.
Richard Moore is pastor of The Evangelical Covenant Church in Sloan, Iowa. He recently spent more than a day in a rocking chair to raise more than $800 to help another youth group with their CHIC expenses.
Lawrence Pointer is pastor of City of Truth Covenant Church in Chicago Heights, Illinois.
How many times have you volunteered and why?
Jean: I volunteered at CHIC 2000. I enjoyed it so much that I came back and told my husband that we needed to do it together some year. Now that he’s retired, this is the year! I must have made an impression, because that was the first item on his retirement list!
Richard: CHIC 2015 will be my seventh time. I first went in 1984 in Laramie, Wyoming, and then to every event at Knoxville since 2000. I have gone as a counselor twice, member of the prayer team once, and on the excursion team three times. I’ll be doing excursions again this year.
Lawrence: I volunteered twice and went as a counselor twice because I have always had a concern for the growth of teenagers regarding their relationship with Christ as well as all they deal with in life.
Jean: My favorite experience was the evening meetings, watching 6,000 teens worshiping, singing, and listening together. My most memorable evening was when the woman who wrote the book Forgiving the Dead Man Walking (Debbie Morris) spoke. She was the only survivor of a man who had raped and killed other women. She and her boyfriend were kidnapped, beaten, and she was raped. You could have heard a pin drop in that stadium as she told her story and talked about the ability to forgive. It was awesome to watch the quiet Spirit move through those kids as she spoke and as they learned about how God can heal.
Richard: Some of my most memorable moments have been meeting and praying with the speakers, artists, and production crew of the bands. Also, standing in the back of the arena and watching students come forward and make a profession of faith or a commitment to full-time Christian service.
Lawrence: I once had a teen group, “Teens of Praises,” that had an opportunity to sing with Matt Lundgren and the worship team one night. Their experience, as well as mine, was great, so I try to bring a group every time in any way I can.
What would you say to people who wonder why they should pay to spend a week volunteering at CHIC?
Jean: You can take a vacation anywhere and rest and do fun things, but none of those offers the opportunity to be of service and, most of all, to experience the next generation and see how God is working in teens. Also, what an amazing example it is for teens to see older adults interacting and caring for them. It isn’t cheap, but it is worth every penny!
Richard: I’d say think of it just as you would a mission trip. You get to help make a big difference in the lives of kids who attend. I love the energy in the event, and I can’t imagine there being a CHIC and me not being there.
Lawrence: I would say, “I know you might have been to camp or experienced a youth night at church, but that’s not CHIC. The experience your students, as well as you as a leader, will have will become a part of you. You will want to find teens you can bring just so you can have another excuse to come again and again.”
Volunteers never know how they might wind up ministering to someone. That’s what Shannyn Stoffel, who attends Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, Minnesota, learned while working at an information booth in 2009. In a Covenant Companion story, she described praying with a local police officer who shared that she was “slipping away from her faith.”
The African American officer started crying. “She told us that in Knoxville, white women don’t generally ask black women to associate with them,” said Stoffel, who is returning again this year.