Sep 15, 2009

Old Flames reunited after 20 years

by Camille Smith

Singing teams at Liberty University are a staple as well as a tradition that have witnessed to thousands of people all over the world. The tradition began with the ministry teams under Youth Aflame: Chorale, All God’s Children, Sound Addition and Smite. The team members came together for the first time in over 20 years.

From Thursday Sept. 10, to Sunday, Sept. 13, former Youth Aflame members enjoyed a packed schedule including a tour of the campus, home football game and a banquet honoring Youth Aflame Director Gordon Luff. The weekend concluded on Sunday morning with a reunion performance at Thomas Road Baptist Church where the teams performed live for the congregation.

“I loved seeing everyone that I haven’t seen in 20 years,” said Terry Arnold. “This weekend was about all of us coming back together.”

Arnold traveled on Youth Aflame ministries because Luff offered her scholarship to sing. Without that scholarship, she would not have attended college or joined the ministry.

“This weekend was a reminder of why we do what we do,” Randy Smith said. “Sometime in the crap of life we forget that God is at the heart of ministry, and we should never, no matter what the circumstances, let ourselves forget that.”

Smith also traveled with Youth Aflame and attributes much of his passion for ministry to Luff. In his biography for the reunion he wrote, “Gordon taught me persistence, vision and the necessity of excellence.” Now a pastor, Smith says ministry has been a part of his life since he traveled with Youth Aflame.

“At the time, I don’t think any of us realized how much being a part of the group was going to impact our lives,” Tracie Aannette McLellan Gates said. “I’m realizing now the incredible opportunity I had to be in a group like that and to be influenced spiritually in the way that we were, that’s my prayer now for my 14-year-old daughter.”

Gates traveled with Liberty Baptist College’s Chorale and All God’s Children while attending Liberty. She has remained in ministry as a Guidance and College planning director at a Christian school in Texas. Gates believes in the power of a godly influence can have on people, a principle she learned while singing with Chorale.

“Gordon taught you that you had to constantly push because ministry was everything, so whatever avenue that took, that’s what you needed to be,” Susie Schliep said. “That is the legacy Gordon has and it’s impacted all of our lives.”

One particular trip, while traveling with the group was a tour in Australia, where Schliep had the opportunity to lead an entire classroom of high school students to the Lord.

“I remember asking the students after I had shared the gospel with them and prayed with them, to look up at me if they had asked Jesus in their hearts,” Schliep said. “When I opened my eyes, they were all looking up at me. They even came to our church performance that weekend.”

Contact Camille Smith at cjsmith3@liberty.edu.


 


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