Together 2016 (What I Experienced)

Together 2016
This past weekend I flew with some of my good buddies up to DC for an amazing day of prayer and worship together with hundreds of thousands of other believers. I wanted to give a recap of the day, and to be able to share some pictures from the weekend.

1. Controversies

2. Off We Go

3. Worship

4. Speakers

5. Encounters

6. Exploring

7. Aftermath



1. Controversies

As much as I didn’t want to add this in, I felt it was only right to start off my blog getting the worst part out of the way. A lot of people wanted this event to fail. A lot of people decided to campaign against this event for reasons only God knows. There were people looking for satanic symbols on the website, and in the logo, and in the hashtag. I’m a firm believer that if you look for the devil in everything, you will easily find him, whether he is really there or not. I, on the other hand, refuse to give the devil that kind of power. There were people picketing outside the gate, because Together invited a few Catholics to speak/perform. But since the protesters were too busy outside condemning us, they didn’t see that the Catholics didn’t push anything on us, that was contrary to what the Bible states. Finally there were people pushing political agendas, on the outside as we walked in. With the election coming up, it’s no surprise to me.

But even though there were so many people against this event, there was a greater amount of people, and influential speakers/artists that felt God called them to be there, on that day, to pray in unity for America. From now on, we are going to focus on that.

2. Off We Go

Joining me on this adventure were two of my co-workers, and really good friends: Darrian and Jesse. We all worked Friday, and then headed down to Charleston to catch our flight to Dulles International Airport. After arriving at Dulles, we took a bus to Rosslyn Station (Arlington, VA), and walked to our hotel. We checked in pretty quickly and settled in for the night.

The next day we got up super early, found a grocery store, stuffed pre-made sandwiches, Honey Buns, and fruit into our backpacks, and loaded up on bottled water, before heading to the National Mall. At each station that we stopped while on the Metro, before making it to our final stop, you could see more and more people headed to the event filling up our train.

We finally arrived at the Smithsonian Metro exit, and walked towards the Washington Monument, only to be met with thousands and thousands of like-minded Christians in line to get in. With that being said it felt like the line moved quickly, and we were in before we knew it. We made our way to the stage right side, put our picnic blanket down, and settled in for the day.
3. Worship

Worshiping together with a couple hundred thousand like-minded individuals, was a beautiful experience. From group prayers, to individual prayers, to worship through music, the atmosphere was incredible. A couple of memorable moments for me were: Kirk Franklin’s prayer against Racism, infidelity, and immorality. Jo Saxton leading us in the first day of the 7-Day Reset devotional, Louie Giglio leading the whole Mall in 30 seconds of silent prayer, and the music of Passion, Crowder, and Lauren Daigle. As well as a moment at the end of Matt Maher’s song “Lord I Need You”, where he walked away from his piano and the crowd kept singing:

“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You

Every hour I need You

My one defense, my righteousness

Oh God, how I need You…”

without music. It gave all three of us chills. A similar moment happened during a Hillsong United song, where people kept doing a little bridge part with “oh oh oh’s” in it, even when the music had stopped.
4. Speakers

To try to sum up any message that took place at passion, would do a severe Injustice to the speakers who brought impactful powerful messages. So I will just leave you with several of my favorite quotes from different speakers.

“You’re not defined by the hell you’re going through;  You’re defined by the Heaven you are going to.” – Sammy Rodriguez
“When you pray regularly, irregular things are going to happen on a regular basis.” -Mark Batterson
“Marriage is an earthly extension of a Heavenly Reality.” – Kirk Franklin
“In surrendering, you win. In dying, you live.” –Ravi Zacharias
“In a generation obsessed with popularity, Jesus calls us to be rejected.” -Francis Chan
“20 inches is the distance between my knee and the ground, that’s how far you have to go to find Mercy.” -Louie Giglio


* Shut Down

Unfortunately  the event had to shut down 5 hours early, because of how hot it was, and how many people were fainting and getting sick. While some people booed, Nick Hall reminded us that we are supposed to respect our authorities, and that they were just looking out for us. So, after such a great day, we headed back to the hotel to rest.
5. Encounters

One thing that the three of us prayed for, was for God to give us people to talk to throughout the trip, and boy did he ever deliver. Unfortunately I’m terrible with names, so I didn’t catch them all. But I will describe them as best as possible.

Franklin
– I had gone up to the desk in our Concourse at the airport, to check and make sure our flight was still on time, when this tall redheaded guy, saw my shirt and asked where I got it. I was wearing a Together 2016 shirt. He told me he was headed to the same event, and he then came and sat with us for a little while before our flight boarded. He told us he leads  worship at his university in Texas, for the group of Christians that go there. But he is from Columbia SC. He seemed to really be on fire for God which is super refreshing in this day and age.

Older Couple At Bus Stop
– We met a couple at the bus stop, waiting to get on the same bus we needed after our flight on Friday night. They saw my shirt and started a conversation with us about the event. When we got on the bus they told us a little bit more about their lives, their four boys, how they met, and that they had been missionaries in India for a while.

People In Line To Get In To Together
–  When we finally made it to the back of the line, we started talking to two young ladies, their mother, and grandmother. Basically just talking about how warm it was this past Christmas in South Carolina, and they were telling us about how Frozen it was in Minnesota.
The group behind us were Latinos, who go to a Hispanic Church in North Carolina. Of course, I switched to Spanish and continued our conversation for a little bit.

Maria and Alejandra
– On Sunday we decided to go hit up some museums, the first one being the Museum of Natural History. We got there 15 minutes before it opened. There were two Hispanic girls in front of us, one walked away for a minute, so I started talking to the one that was still there, in Spanish. She said that she is from Honduras, and she was visiting her sister (the other girl) for 3 weeks. So they made the weekend trip from New York, to Washington DC. They were hoping to go to Together, but it was too hot, so they decided just to hit up some museums on Saturday, and the rest on Sunday. They were both Believers, and asked us to share some of our favorite parts of the event. So we did.

Guy On Metro
– We met this guy on the Metro, as we were headed towards our bus stop. We only got to talk to him for like three minutes, but in those three minutes he told us about his girlfriend who he met in Korea, even though she’s American. They both teach ESL to kids over there. his girlfriend is from DC, so he was spending a couple of months with her, before heading back to Korea. He asked us what we were in town for, we told him about the event, and he said he would look it up. Even just being able to plant that seed, was incredible!
6. Exploring

Our flight to come back didn’t leave until 10 p.m. on Sunday night. So we planned to go back into DC, and explore the nation’s capital. We hit up the Museum of Natural History for a few hours, then we went searching for food.

We found this really nice sub shop, that had the most amazing sub I’ve ever had in my life, hands down. It had pulled pork, roasted peppers, cilantro and a pineapple sauce. Just look at that thing!

We proceeded to hit up the National Air and Space Museum and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, before having to head to the airport for our flight home.

7. Aftermath

One of the things that the three of us had talked about before the trip, was that we didn’t want this trip to be about a feeling or an event, but that we wanted it to be about being equipped and taking our experiences and what we learned back home, and using it in our ministries where we live. It was never about the speakers or performers, it was never about being surrounded by people who think like us, it was never about the trip. From the beginning and throughout the trip, it was always about Jesus. It was always about resetting our hearts to be in tune with his.  All three of us came back on fire. Not a fire that will go out in a week, like it did when we were middle schoolers and went to a christian camp. It’s a fire that will be carried for the rest of our lives when we remember what God did through us that day. He gave us a calling, and we won’t be shutting up about it anytime soon.

 

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