The following post was written by the Rev. Bryan Bywater, Church Army USA, and minister in Hartford, CT, after traveling to Asheville, NC, for the New Wineskins Anglican Missions Conference:
This marked the fifth year I have attended the New Wineskins Global Missions Conference, and I have yet to hear most of the talks due to our work with the New Wineskins youth. My fellow captain in Church Army, Dorathy Smolkis (Anglican Diocese of the Living Word), joined me in pouring into the lives of the teenage children of missionaries, canons, priests, and laity, igniting in them a love of God and His people, spurring them on to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
I found this group to be quite intimidating! I was a classmate with many of their parents in seminary, all of whom were and are brilliant men and woman of God engaged in amazing Gospel ministry around the world. Nevertheless, their children’s faith must become their own, and they also need to hear the call of God to go deep into the suffering heart of the world and to pour the Balm of Gilead on sick souls. Their parents heard the call, and now it is their turn.
They were hungry, and the Holy Spirit seemed like a penned lion waiting to pounce. We began with a simple question: “How many of you are tired of watching adults being hateful towards one another?” Every hand shot up, quickly. So we taught them how to be transformed in the loving image of God, and to carry that into a hostile world, being content in all circumstances. We focused on teaching them how to hear the voice of God through the classic disciplines, and engaged the prophetic imagination to create spaces in their communities to welcome the lost into a space where the Holy Spirit can do His work.
We taught on discernment of spirits by plugging our ears, how to be led my his voice through blind-folded games, and how to pray for the world by praying over some missionaries with SAMS. We explored HOW to read the Bible and to share the faith, not WHY…and they caught on fire, right there in a small room on the way to the dining hall.
What a gift it was, and the highest honor, to being allowed by our Lord and Savior to call his children out of their winepresses and open their ears to His call.