by Christian McGrew
The 2023 HOST Convocation took place in Treviso Italy, thirty minutes north of Venice, from July 25 to July 28. HOST stands for “Holy Order of Saint Timothy” and was created by the European ICCEC youth over a decade ago. This HOST Con was the first HOST Con since 2018, and it’s its theme was “Identity: Child of God”.
Over one hundred ICCEC youth and young adults from Europe, and ten from the United States, met at Nomad Hostel in Treviso for speakers, worship, activities, and fellowship. The conference consisted of six speaking sessions including Fr. Terry Gensemer, Fr. Joel Valdez, Deacon Matt Bautista, and others.
Fr. Terry spoke about humility, what makes a leader, blessings, temptation and anxiety, and much more. He spoke about how we are all equal in Christ and how humbling ourselves is extremely important. When we have a servants heart, humble ourselves, and remember that God is not mad at us, and will never leave us and forsake us, we can be powerful leaders in the Church with identities that align with God and his plan for us. Fr. Terry gave each group a discussion question to answer, which helped us dig deep and dwell on the things in the world that conform us, among other things.
The other five speakers also did a wonderful job at tying everything about their topic to identity and how our identity should be “Child of God”. Fellowship with believers, experiencing God, and thinking about God also has an important role to play in someone’s identity being a “child of God”.
We had many fun activities where we competed in teams that were sorted at the beginning. One highlight was when Christian Harris, one of the young adults from California, and I taught 10-15 of the European youth how to play American Football.
The two worship nights and closing church service led by Bishop Elmer were extremely powerful. God did many incredible things through worship and prayer that I believe changed a lot of peoples lives. We prayed for healing, breakthroughs, and much more. Many people, including myself, felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in a very strong way.
As with any event where God moves, the enemy tried to slow it down. Over the three days, two people went to the hospital. One young man actually broke his arm playing football, and another was briefly knocked out by a wayward soccer ball. Both returned during our worship night. The young man with a possible concussion was absolutely fine, and we all gathered to pray for the young man with a broken arm. There was also a moment when another attendee required an ambulance for blood sugar issues, but she was soon doing fine. God kept us all safe, and I believe this trip will have a part to play in many people’s testimony.
God kept working even in the time outside of the convocation. After a fantastic final night in Venice, I missed my train stop on the way back to my hotel where my grandparents were staying. A young man who helped me get to the right train just before actually drove me to my hotel from the station closest to him after he biked home to get his car. This is just one of the countless stories from me and others where God always lead us to the right place, both to the conference in the first place, and to safe places when tough circumstances arose.
The young adults from California and I were beyond impressed by the community that the ICCEC youth and young adults in Europe have. The connections that they have is an extraordinary example for us to bring back and implement in the United States. I met so many great new friends from Europe and California, and I am looking forward to all of the wonderful and exciting plans that will be coming soon in the CEC and our ministries.
I am so grateful that I was able to go to HOST Con and I encourage everyone who is able to come to the next one!