D-Now results in many new Christians and nitrogen ice cream

Regent students volunteered at D-Now this weekend, March 29-31 at Discovery Church, converting many youth to Christianity and providing a weekend of fun for them.

Three days of free food, games, and serving

On any other weekend, Mary Flannery can be found with her three grandchildren and other family; but this weekend, she was a planning fanatic, working with other volunteers to plan a fun-filled weekend for teenagers.

“I love watching how God puts it all together,” Flannery said. “A few weeks ago, we didn’t know a lot of the key pieces, and yet He brought us people to be small group leaders; He put a band together.”

Discipleship Now, or D-Now, is a three-day weekend retreat where kids come to worship, help the community, and make new friends.

“It’s just amazing how the kids get blessed by it and truly learn they have a place in the family of God,” said Flannery. “I’ve seen people connect who normally wouldn’t know each other and realize they go to the same school and they both love Jesus.”

Worship that brings teens together

Kids sixth through twelfth grade can attend, enjoying free food, a host home where they sleep for the weekend, and special surprises like nitrogen ice cream.

Company SubZero provided nitrogen ice cream for the youth and volunteers, showing them how it is made and how nitrogen works, Mar. 2019. (Shelly Slocum)

“I grew a lot spiritually,” said Lilly Herr, a middle school participant. “The worship was really good, but also my small group had lots of good conversations and tons of laughs that were majorly awesome.”

The running theme of D-Now is being a disciple and sharing the Gospel; this year’s theme specifically being “Fools for Jesus.”

“I gotta say, this is one of the highlights of my year every year,” said small group leader Darren Blom. “It’s really cool that I get to do this with the kids, and I get to teach you guys, you learn something important. And I’m just hoping that when you guys leave here, whatever you learned, that you take it back with you, and you apply it. That’s what this is about.”

Volunteers paving the way

The event had approximately 55 volunteers who helped as small group leaders, kitchen staff, event coordinating and more. Small group leaders are typically young adults who help to teach and guide the students in a role-model way, leading by example.

“I really love it and hope to do more things like this,” said Rachel Wartian,
small group leader and senior at Regent University. “I hope to really make an impact on these girls that I get to work with this weekend.”

Wartian’s group, the smarties, pose for a picture on the final day of D-Now, Mar. 2019. (Shelly Slocum)

Keynote speaker Asa Lowe spoke to the group about needing Jesus and the importance of sharing Jesus with the world.

“It was really amazing last night to see the Spirit already moving, I could feel it,” said Wartian. “It was just a very heavy presence in the room. We had an altar call last night, and so many came to Christ, so it’s just amazing to see God already working so early in this weekend.”

The band

Danielle Ngo, Flannery’s daughter, and her husband Andrew Ngo were part of the worship band that played for the weekend, making an impact on the kids through their music.

“Another fun part of this weekend [was] the band playing amazing songs, very nice,” said Braden Everett, a middle school participant. “I enjoyed them. The band did a really good job.”

The kids impacted the band with their enjoyment of the worship music.

“I wanna thank D-Now for everything they’ve done,” said band member Matthew Hill. “One of the biggest rewards as part of a worship band is seeing everyone worshipping, lifting their hands up high, knowing that God is going to do amazing things in our lives, and he will never stop.”

Impacting the community

One group of volunteers raked leaves at Hope Haven, Mar. 2019. (Shelly Slocum)

On Saturday, the youth and volunteers headed out into the community to help those in need.

“We went to a mission project and helped out a recently widowed Norfolk police officer,” said Flannery. “We got to work in her yard, play with her children, and love on them – and it’s just a neat family.”

The weekend of mission projects and worship seemed to bring the group together, some of them already looking forward to what next year’s D-Now has for them.

“It’s been great; this is kind of like my second home away from home,” said small group leader Trayvon Brown. “I just enjoy spending time with you guys. Community – you guys have just shown me what it looks like, interacting with each other, showing love, having fun with each other, that’s exactly what we need growing up. You guys are our future.”

Anyone interested in volunteering in future years should message their Facebook Page.

Shelly Slocum is a department head for the Daily Runner.