Each summer, over thirty thousand Christian teenagers meet, at one of four events, to sing, pray, study the bible and go to very loosely religious related parties. This is a rather broad description of Soul Survivor, a Christian festival event which yearly attracts youth groups from all over the country to unite to explore their faith.
My friend went last year and came back with nothing but positive reviews; throwing paint at people, engaging in the sub-genre that is Christian pop music, he even felt the holy spirit for God’s sake (if you’ll pardon the pun). Soon he had persuaded me to sign up to Soul Survivor 2015 and before I knew it I was on my way to experience the event for myself.
It’s a festival event so we were camping for the week, although oddly enough the torrential rain that usually accompanies both camping and festivals held off for the week, let’s put it down to the will of God shall we. Each church had their own little plot, although I think it was just us who were located next to a group of rowdy Irishmen, hell-bent on singing ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ every morning. The first day was really just focused on getting the camp set up, and having a preliminary look around the showground before meeting in the evening for the day’s service.
The services, which happen each morning and each evening, occur in ‘The Big Top’, a truly massive sized tent-marquee thing that’s complete with a stage, dozens of camera men and floor space to fit in the ten thousand of us that came that week. They were led by world-renowned pastors Mike Pilavachi and Andy Croft, who’s banter was truly very beautiful interesting to watch. Each session contains a talk, some worship and a prayer session at the end.
The topics covered over the week were surprisingly vast; common biblical stories, missionary work, church outreach, the importance of the bible and whatever it is goes on in heaven were all discussed. The music was very enjoyable too, led each night by Tom Smith (swoon), Beth Croft (double-swoon) or Christian band Rend Collective (all me’ swoons are used up I’m afraid). I actually managed to get a few photos with some of the artists!
However the highlight of each meeting was undoubtedly the prayer at the end. Mike would call up a group; new Christians, the ‘desperate’, people interested in missionary work, youth leaders, people suffering depression or other conflicts, and people around would pray to them. Many people began to scream, or laugh or faint. It truly was inspiring to watch the Holy Spirit at work in the room, I even felt it myself on the last night (talk about a climax)!
Throughout the days there were various ‘seminars’ given on all aspects of Christianity. Evangelism, the historical accuracy of the bible, keeping faith during university, how to approach other religions, there were some great talks. Each evening there were also events; I attended a silent disco, the massive bonfire night and caught a film. Additionally, on the third day there was a foam party, were about two thousand people crammed themselves into a field and were sprayed with so much foam that they couldn’t see/hear/stand up properly.
The whole week was an amazing experience. Not only did I spend time with a great load of people from my church, but the thought-provoking talks, seminars, and watching the holy spirit at work had an amazing effect on my faith. I’m really hoping I get the opportunity to go again, next summer.