It’s a promise he made while at a week of MIX earlier this summer. His classmate, Katie Barton, said she’s going to pray more and attend church more regularly. Others from their youth group made similar commitments of Kingdom work for the weeks and months beyond the event. And like many others who will be attending MIX this summer, Willis and Barton symbolized their commitment to those life changes by walking to the front of the stage and hitting a button that triggered a light that fills the entire auditorium.
"It was a gateway for people to let their guard down, raise their hands in worship and commit to the moment.
“I chose to follow God when I was six but fell off the path,” Willis said afterward. “I didn’t know His love and I needed His love again. When I go home, I’m going to change some habits. I’m going to talk to my dad about something I said to him. After I said it, I felt pretty bad.”
Throughout the week, MIX invites students to follow the Lord – may it be for the first time or with a rededication of their lives to pursue Kingdom work. One intentional moment involves a chance for students to come forward to push a button mounted at the front of the stage. The act represents their decision to follow Christ.
Cody Dougless, student minister with First Christian Church in Carthage, Missouri, described the moment when Barton and Willis went forward to push the button.
“Katie went up almost immediately,” he said. “People were in an incredible state because as soon as she came back, the song kept going and they were hugging on her, and hands were in the air worshiping in that state of surrender to God. For the students, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s someone I know. They were bold enough.’ And it showed courage to have that moment of surrender with God. It was a gateway for other people to let their guard down, raise their hands in worship and commit to the moment. I didn’t realize Tyler was in that place, too.”
Barton said after the invitation was made and the praise and worship song began, everything around her seemed to fade except her longing to connect to God.
“It means so much,” she said wiping tears from her eyes. “It was good. I just wanted to get closer to Him. I’m going to go to church more and start praying more.”
CIY staff and youth leaders witness these powerful and life-changing moments as youth groups celebrate and support each other’s decisions. Dougless said it’s a beautiful thing to see.
“When Tyler came back, all his buddies were there giving hugs – it was total excitement and acceptance and I think surprise for some of them,” he said. “We prayed together as a group for each other. I think that was a cool moment for our people to make decisions.”