Last Friday night, the TCHS gym was packed out by a massive crowd who came to cheer on the Lady Braves as they battled—and ultimately beat—a tough Choctaw Central team to advance in the …
Last Friday night, the TCHS gym was packed out by a massive crowd who came to cheer on the Lady Braves as they battled—and ultimately beat—a tough Choctaw Central team to advance in the playoffs. The atmosphere in that gym was ELECTRIC! Fans were so enthusiastic and the roar of the crowd was so loud that my hearing was muffled for a good hour after leaving the game! Afterward, I saw many posts on Facebook pondering what it would be like to see a crowd as excited about worshiping Jesus as the fans had been to cheer on our home team for that game.
Tishomingo County, let me tell you, I now know what that would be like, because I experienced it in person Saturday evening at Tishomingo County’s D-Now youth event at Crow’s Neck Retreat!!
D-Now is a twice-yearly event sponsored by the Tishomingo County Baptist Association where students are encouraged to put away their phones and other distractions to enjoy nature in the beautiful environment Crow’s Neck Retreat offers. Each year in February and July, students and chaperones from churches all over Tishomingo County gather for a weekend of fellowship, food, activities and games, worship, Bible teaching, and many other opportunities to develop their faith and go deeper in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
The theme of this year’s winter D-Now was “So Much More,” where students learned that God is both massive in scale and full of grandeur; yet intimately personal and concerned with their lives so much that He has a perfect plan for each person.
Event organizer Theresa (TJ) Stricklen reflected, “It is hard to put into words what we all experienced this past weekend! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! A record crowd of students and youth leaders gathered at Crow’s Neck for D-Now, and prayers were answered! Saturday night worship was amazing. Many said it was the best worship experience they had ever had! God is working!”
Caleb and Michaela Cody, Johnny McDuffy, and Cameron and Ashley Dexter gave their all in leading the worship service. Bro. Sean Glidewell, Pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church, brought messages from Ephesians 3:20-21 in a powerful, easy-to-understand way.
Corinth native and potter, Ray Gregory Jr, shared his testimony with a pottery demonstration that creatively illustrated to students what the Bible teaches with the metaphor of the Potter and the clay. Additionally, students were also offered breakout sessions on missions, Christian growth, sharing Jesus, worship, Pray like Clint, and In His Image.
Upon arriving at the event Saturday morning, many students had a feeling of expectancy of things to come. Student Ainsley Estes said that she had been to many faith-based events before, but that when she arrived at the camp Saturday morning, something just “felt different.”
As revival seems to have been sparked in a number of places across the nation and world in recent days, many remarked how apparent it is that God is moving and calling people to Himself. There was a definite and exciting buzz of anticipation among D-Now attendees of what He might do here locally this weekend. NO ONE WAS DISAPPOINTED.
At sign-in, students were directed to Terry Stanford, who was in charge of lodging assignments for the night. As the group from Tishomingo Baptist approached the table for sign in, Mrs. Terry sat in her chair wide-eyed and noticeably overwhelmed. “I don’t know how we’re going to fit all these kids, but I’m gonna just write them down, and trust that God will make a way.” She was right to be concerned; there were 50 beds available for girls’ lodging, and EIGHTY-TWO had shown up!!
In fact, the whole event had exploded. The event was expected to draw around 110 attendees, but after check-in was over, an event record-shattering 180 students and leaders had shown up!! Leadership was in awe and disbelief, but also completely trusting that God would provide.
And provide, He DID, in ALL the ways!!
Staff scrambled to find blow-up mattresses and other bedding options, and some who had homes within reasonable distance took almost 20 students in. Everyone was accommodated. Food and drinks seemed to multiply as the volunteer staff at Crow’s Neck miraculously found the food to provide for MANY more than had been anticipated, and everyone had more than enough.
Spirits remained high and attitudes were great.
Then Saturday night came…AND SO DID THE PRESENCE OF GOD! As the praise team led by Caleb and Michaela Cody began to lead worship, it seemed as if the crowd was ushered into the very throne room of Heaven!
“The Holy Spirit fell on that room like a thick fog, and students worshiped with a sincerity and fervency that many had never witnessed before!” said one leader. “Students abandoned care of what others around them might think and just began to raise their voices and their hands in worship to Jesus. There were salvations, rededications, many burdens laid down, people being freed from strongholds, and many others just taking comfort in Jesus and basking in the glow of His presence.”
“It was loud, and it was REAL in there! A ballgame?? That was better than any ballgame I’ve ever been to!” another leader stated. “THAT is revival, what just happened in there,” chaperone Brianna Thompson exclaimed.
Student Ella Fair said that it was a defining moment in her walk with Christ.
“I just connected with Jesus on a level that I’ve never experienced Him before,” Fair said.
Many students agreed that it was a night they will never forget. First-time attendee Cohen Castile expressed, “You haven’t worshiped until you’ve worshiped like that!” On Monday, student Brooks Marlar took to Facebook to announce that he had given his life to the Lord during the weekend. “It was the best decision I have ever made…. I’m so glad I went this weekend. It really changed the way I think about Jesus,” he posted.
There were many accounts of the excitement from Saturday night’s worship service spilling over into Sunday night services, as students returned to their home churches and gave account of what they had witnessed over the weekend. D-Now organizers are hopeful that students and leaders will continue in their excitement for the Lord, and that what happened at D-Now this weekend will spark a revival here in Tishomingo County.
All leadership point to the event organizers Ronny and Theresa Stricklen as the catalysts for this amazing experience. The couple has been at the helm of organizing D-Now events twice yearly, with the exception of a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, since the year 2000. They have toiled diligently for the Lord through the years, always striving to put the exact speakers, musicians, leaders, and weekend focuses in place that they felt the Lord wanted. They have prayed innumerable prayers that God would use this event to bring the youth of this county to Himself, and He has answered those prayers exceedingly and abundantly through the years, though perhaps THIS year most of all!
Macy McDuffy took the stage Saturday night to thank them for their dedication to the event and their years of prayers over it. She expressed, “It is because of their prayers we are able to reap the harvest, and that is something that I, personally, am SO thankful for.”
There are many in this county who are thankful for their faithfulness and influence for the Kingdom. D-Now weekends have resulted in many salvations and rededications, through the years, and even two marriages! Both couples (Matthew Brown and Haley Hammock Brown, as well as Ben Cain and Katie Lee Cain) met as teenagers at D-Now and married in 2018. Ben and Katie just welcomed baby Evelyn in August of 2022 and now serve as youth leaders and chaperones for D-Now.
D-Now is open to students in grades 7-12. At least 15 area churches brought student groups and chaperones this past weekend, and organizers hope this event just continues to grow! The next D-Now is set for July 21-23, 2023. If you have a teenager in your life, you will not regret encouraging them to find a church to attend the event with. It will undoubtedly make an impact in their life, and it might just make a difference in their ETERNITY. In the meantime, there will be a Tishomingo County Baptist Association youth night at New Salem Baptist Church on April 19th at 6:30pm. All are welcome!
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