Lost and Found, the Virginia Synod youth event for 7th and 8th graders was held November 16-18 at Eagle Eyrie Baptist Convention Center in Lynchburg. This year nearly 200 youth and adult participants got to witness and live out the theme “Lost Hate & Found Love” based on Deuteronomy Matthew 5:43-45.
This year’s planning group made up by Matthew Arp (Resurrection, Fredericksburg), Skylar Duffy (Christ, Fredericksburg), Immanuel Durant (Christ, Fredericksburg), and Caitlin Schulz (Christ Roanoke) worked with Pastor Dave Delaney to plan nearly every element of the weekend. From scripture passage to t-shirt designs, the group got a say in the whole event making it uniquely suited to the middle schoolers in attendance.
During the weekend, the crowd enjoyed the planning group’s skits, which was set around a group of participants at a Role-Playing Game Festival. The group made it to the final round of the tournament game called “SpoonFork” and the competition has been fierce. As our players gather, two of them are clearly old adversaries, each determined to outdo the other; for them, this is more than a game. Over the course of the skits, the other players become aware of the problem of labeling someone else as an enemy and failing to show kindness even in a game where the goal is to win. In the end, the players learned the real cost of labeling someone else as an enemy and realize they will have to work for all to finish the game in order for any of them to finish the game.
Following each skit, Pastor Jonathan Hamman, the chaplain for the event, summarized the skit and offered ways that the stories told could relate to the lives of the middle schoolers, namely learning to “Love your enemies. Pray for your haters.”
Bryan “Hep” Hepner and Tori Smith acted as the planning group advisers and helped the group prepare to get up on stage. In addition to working with the planning group, Tori and Hep planned and performed their own series of comedic skits for the middle schoolers. The pair entertained with “Old Testament Rivalry Lip-Sync Battles”, taking on the personas of Old Testament characters like Jonah and the Whale, Moses, and Pharaoh and more!
Following large group presentations, the participants at Lost and Found got the chance to break off into small groups, arranged by age group. In these small groups, participants were able to reflect on the weekend’s theme, the skits presented, and relate all of it back to their own faith life through conversation, games, and crafts. During the weekend, small groups got the chance to role play as well, creating fantasy characters and going on quests to turn their enemies in battle into friends. In addition to roleplaying, small groups also got to be creative, designing prayer posters which provided prayer for enemies and haters.
Lost and Found 2018 was filled with laughter, fun, worship, and conversations that encouraged participants to remember to “Love your enemies. Pray for your haters.” Praying for one another is something that everyone can do, an important takeaway in this day and every day as we look beyond what divides and focus on God’s love in our lives.