This story is the beginning of a four-part series of stories about each of the SOAR 2017 sessions.
Dustin Wisely saw the ugly side of church.
He lived a double life growing up – a rule-following, Christian-mimicking life around his church, but a life that looked like the world at school. By fourteen, he was even leading Sunday school, Bible studies, and worship songs, but he tried so hard in his façade that his friends saw through him. They knew he was living a split life, and in his heart, Dustin knew he wasn’t a true Christ follower. He didn’t love God.
That is, until his eighteenth birthday, when God saved his soul. No more “playing Christian,” and no more living that contradicting life. Christ had redeemed him. Though there wasn’t even an invitation at church that evening, Dustin went forward and met his father, the pastor, at the alter and confessed.
“I talked to my dad and confessed to the church that all that they saw was a lie,” said Dustin. “I was a Pharisee. To stand before my church and acknowledge my sin was so humbling and so freeing.”
Soon after his salvation, Dustin surrendered to preach. That is what brought him to eventually be the keynote speaker at SOAR 2017, speaking from Philippians 1 and 2 about living a selfless life.
Dustin challenged the 1,700 students that crowded in to the Texas Ballroom at the Gaylord Texan Resort to do something difficult – something that impacts those around them. He spoke to push the students to action because of their own convictions, not because their youth pastor or parents expect it of them.
“I don’t believe that you find anywhere in Scripture where God calls Christians to do nothing,” said Wisely. “I did things that looked spiritual. We are not calling you to do spiritual stuff. We are calling you to love God, and out of that love of God will come the desire to make him known.”
In conclusion to the first session, Wisely threw down this challenge to the students: “If God shows you that he has specific rules of how he wants you to make him known, will you say yes?”
Everything about the session, from encouraging students to participate in Volunteer Student Missions to the worship from We the Union and all aspects of the SOAR Village, challenged students to live out a selfless life as a minister of the gospel, even as young students.