21project in Hawaii: This summer could change your life
I still stand by this conviction two years later: 21project changed my life.
Relatively unknown on our little Southeast Asian island back in 2017, the six-day youth training school made quite the debut when the Circuit Riders brought it to our shores for the first time in this part of the world.
Named after the itinerant ministers who used to travel around “preaching circuits” in old America, usually on horseback, the Circuit Riders is a ministry of Youth With A Mission (YWAM), focused on reaching universities and high schools with the gospel.
The Circuit Riders movement swept across US campuses – starting with the very first 21project in 2011, which was held in Kona, Hawaii, the home base of YWAM. With an initial run of 21 whole days, 21project was a summer programme for students to get equipped for sharing the gospel through creative means, simply to see their friends and schools saved.
The Singapore edition of 21project was condensed into six days, from September 3-8, 2017, where over 200 youth and young adults from various churches gathered to train under 12 of the Circuit Riders themselves, most of who were in their 20s and serving full-time. As Thir.st had just gone live at the end of 2016, we were there to mix with the crowd and observe what went on.
Besides mass training sessions that focused on cross-ministry issues such as personal holiness, healthy church cultures and starting Jesus movements, group training focused on activating giftings and outreach through practical means. For our daily breakout sessions, we could choose between four tracks based on our interests and specialties: Media, Messenger, Music and Missions.
Students in each track were also given relevant challenges and projects to accomplish. For example, Messengers went out on street evangelism sessions and had to plan and deliver a mini-sermon each. The Media team produced and shot videos within the five days of time together, while the Music team performed the songs they had written during their training on the final night.
Running from 10am and closing only after 9pm when evening rallies ended, 21project was one of the most intense ministry equipping sessions I’d ever attended, even at 28 years old then. But there was something about the young people I sat among, and it was not just youthful energy. It was hunger: Hunger to carry the love of God into the world they were quickly growing up in.
And it was this hunger that carried me, like a wave, out of my reservations as an overaged onlooker to the front of the main hall at Cornerstone Community Church, not once but twice. First, as God surfaced a word in my heart for His children on the third night during ministry time and second, when the Circuit Riders prayed over every student in the hall as they were commissioned on the last night. I went forward anyway.
Those six days still mark the start of a whirlwind acceleration that took my full-time journey from fast to furious. And I was not alone. Towards the end of our week-long training, at one of the evening rallies, a girl called Tiffany approached me to share her story with Thir.st.
She had been struggling with her mental health for many years and had attempted to take her own life at just 8 years old. Just a few weeks before she had come for 21project under a friend’s influence, she had checked herself into the Institute of Mental Health and been diagnosed with severe depression, dysthymia, adjustment disorder and social anxiety disorder.
Something had happened at the altar call that night, and she felt the box of mental illness that had shrouded her for so long shatter and a voice in her spirit saying: “You’re done with depression.” Now she wanted to tell her story and start an initiative to help others like her.
I saw her again at the end of last year during the 2018 FOPx conference, and there she was, alive and well. 21project had changed our lives.
The Circuit Riders are calling young people to come experience it again this year – but this time back on Hawaiian soil. For two weeks instead of one, 21project Kona will be taking place July 14-28, 2019, and Singaporeans are specially invited.
And instead of four tracks, there are eight and counting, now inclusive of Mavericks (marketplace), Movement, Athletics and Twenty-two, a special track for 21project alumni to study the gospel. Meals and lodging are all included in the school fees: a special price of US$1,000 for Singaporean participants, valid for early-bird registrations until May 15, 2019.
Young revivalists, influencers, musicians, creatives and messengers: 2019 could be the year it all begins. This could be the summer your life is changed.
21Project is an annual school hosted by the Circuit Riders to influence, empower and teach our generation to live the lifestyle of Jesus, know Him and utilise our passions for the Kingdom of God. To apply for 21Project Kona or find out more, please visit their official website.