July 30, 2005
It was Desperation time. Inside two auditoriums at New Life Church, the music was so loud you could feel the bass pulsing inside your chest. Pink and purple lights bathed thousands of kids dancing in the aisles, hands uplifted as bands blared out songs to Jesus.
Outside in a quiet corner of the cafeteria, two young women held hands and prayed. One of them wiped tears from her face. “Desperation,” as this youth conference is called, has nothing to do with hopelessness, said Ben Nockels, the event’s associate pastor. “It means we pursue God hard, pray hard and live strategically for Jesus.” More than 2,500 high school and college students from 25 states are here for this fourth annual Desperation Conference, which ends today. The sponsor, New Life Church, is the largest church in Colorado Springs: It has about 11,000 attendees. Similar evangelical events and crusades, such as the Harvest Crusade in Southern California, take place across the country each summer. They have been particularly successful in attracting younger generations to Christianity using edgy Christian rock music and hip youth-oriented speakers. When they go home Sunday, the teens will be better equipped to lead Christian lives and spread the gospel from their campus to the world, Nockels said. On Friday, the young women and men were separated for the morning sessions, where speakers talked about gender roles. Lisa Bevere, a speaker from Messenger International in Monument, told the young women they should learn “How to Fight Like a Girl,” to help heal the hurting Earth. In the other auditorium, Brent Parsley, a New Life Church youth pastor, was telling the guys how to avoid temptation and become godly leaders. Katie Cornick, 19, of Colorado Springs, did just that after attending the conference last year. She became a missionary with Youth With a Mission and spent several months in central Asia teaching English and quietly evangelizing. “The conference changed my life, taught me how to focus my life around God,” she said. Her friend Stephanie Foos, 18, shed a few tears at this year’s conference. “Last night’s session helped me realize that certain things were just not right in my life. It’s put me on track. The best part is hearing God’s voice through all these guest speakers.” Mark Ross, 15, was clutching a skateboard and sporting a mop of bangs dyed red. The Desperation Conference is the Air Academy High School student’s second. “It helps you deal with the bad stuff that comes up,” he explained. “It gives me energy and vibes. It’s awesome.” His friend Nate Marmaro, a Doherty High School junior, agreed. “I was getting down in the dumps from the grind. School and stuff is tough. This rejuvenates me, pulls me out.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0371 or firstname.lastname@example.org