As the evening rushed to its conclusion it was time to gather again for the final bit of the programme.
After a song by Commonunion one of the JSK staff members - Daniel Kautikkar - gave a testimony. It was on behalf of Raju (name changed of course) a young man with HIV.
The sting in the tail was this: Raju is dead.
Instead of him standing up and sharing about his life - he is one of the many whom AIDS has taken over the past few years.
Daniel shared about how Raju had been deathly sick - and made a tremendous recovery physically - only to fall prey to his old demons of drink and self-pity. Despite many inputs into his life Raju kept making choices that lead to death rather than life. His behaviour became more and more erratic - people reported him threatening others with broken tube-light bulbs.
The final days of Raju were miserable. He passed from this world as a young 25 year old. In a psychiatric ward of a government hospital. Daniel ended by saying that we all make choices - and that he wished that Raju could have been here to tell you his story like Shubhangi did earlier...
The stage was set for the finale. Indrajit Sunderam had come down from Delhi to be part of the YAA Fest and now was his turn.
A compact bundle of energy and determination - Indrajit put it straight forward in chaste Hindi to all those present - we have to choose between appearance and character. Working the theme, Indrajit helped us to see how valuable our purity is - and how possible it is to live a life with the help of the Holy Spirit. But how the choice is in our hands - and in the hands of this generation.
Indrajit capped off his sharing with a song he wrote - a Dylan-soaked number that talked about the angst around us - and offered the light of seeing the door to hope opened.
It was decision time. We explained that this was totally voluntary - but that it was important to put our will into action - and sum up all that we had learned over the evening. We were asking those who wanted to - to commit themselves to choices that led them on the road of purity.
We also explained that we had a small token to help them remind themselves of this - a simple friendship band - but one which had been put together by ladies who themselves already have HIV. The band is an outward reminder of the promise that we made to God and before our peers - and a nudge to keep us going forward - together.
And so jointly said (in Hindi and English) our final statement:
In the presence of God and my friends, I freely make this promise:
I decide to live a life of purity – and I want to lead the change
I will move forward on the road of purity – choosing to make God’s
standards my own – and asking forgiveness quickly if I fall.
Together with those I love – and whom I must love more – I choose to honour and respect relationships – regardless of the cost.
I choose to be faithful to my marriage partner – whether I know him or her yet or not. I want to give my best to him or her.
I admit that I need help from God. I will seek Him through his word and others who are on the same path as I.
I will honestly share my failings with God and others who are walking with me on the road to purity – that we may all be changed.
I put this friendship band on my wrist to remind me of my promise:
I will pray for the sister with HIV whose hands made this band –
I will encourage others to take a stand and stop AIDS – starting with me.
So help me Jesus.
Once more Commonunion came on - to do our closing song: just reach out - and He'll reach in - take your broken heart - and make it whole again.
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Grace is tangible.
The amount of work that went on behind the scenes to make the YAA Fest 07 was just phenomenal. For each of the 500 odd people who attended over the course of the afternoon and evening we had lots of hours of work in preparation - and much prayer.
During the whole time there was a great sense of peace and security - any of the small hitches that came our way were overcome amazingly - and with minimal fuss.
We saw so many young people come and really enjoy themselves. We saw people being deeply moved. We saw people being challenged and provoked. We saw models of excellence in the drama and music. We were changed - glory to God!