I was in middle school when I first met Harding University. I came to campus with my youth group for one of the first youth events that I ever attended. Hundreds of other kids had come from all over the country to spend the week at Uplift.
Many things made my experience great. I was away from home with all of my friends. I could eat pizza in the Harding cafeteria for every meal. I stayed in the dorms, went to Uplift classes in the McInteer building, and felt grown up being on a college campus. But I’m really thankful for Uplift because it introduced me to Harding.
I remember my first session of Uplift well. The theme that year was “The Call,” and worship times and classes throughout the week all revolved around the story of Jonah. Uplift is for students entering the 7th grade through graduating seniors, but “The Call” was a pretty deep theme for this group. It challenged us, and we grew from the time we spent together.
Each night, our group met and talked about what we learned from the day. It was an open forum for us to share anything we wanted. I remember one particular night when we were all sitting in a stairwell together. We all got really honest with each other and talked about how we were feeling about issues in our life. It was a breakthrough moment for our group, and we spent time praying and growing closer together.
During this week, many campers decide to commit their lives to Christ and be born again in baptism. If you go to www.UpliftOnline.com, you can see the live stream of baptisms on Sunday and Tuesday nights during each session and watch as young people make the most important decision of their lives. I remember sitting on the steps of the Benson and shouting out “Bye” to campers one after another right before they were dipped into the water of the fountain in front of the McInteer. Campers still do this today.
The first session of Uplift ended today, and two sessions of Uplift will be held June 18-23 and June 25-30. Harding played a role in my spiritual development before I even knew I was going to be a student here. And it brings me so much joy knowing how many other students will soon experience Uplift and be introduced to Harding.
Hannah Owens, director of digital media