I was nervous about attending my first Hillsong Conference. It was over 20 years ago and I was a single mum to a 13-month-old, strong-willed daughter, Rebekah. The thought of going to a conference in a different state with a toddler in tow unnerved me. How would I cope with the plane flight and having to lug around all my luggage plus nappy bags, bottles, pillows and toys? Despite my apprehension and excuses, I kept thinking… But what if God speaks to me at Conference? I really need to hear from Him and I don’t want to miss my chance!
Turns out I made the right choice. From the moment I stepped through the doors, the volunteers were there to help me – they were just incredible! They went out of their way to make me feel genuinely loved and supported. I even received a free night’s accommodation courtesy of a stranger. The messages I heard at that very first conference and all the conferences since, have stretched and challenged me, and even broken me in the gentlest way. Hillsong Conference was the first time I had ever experienced the Father heart of God.
Nowadays I live in Sydney and my daughter Rebekah (who is now 23) and I are both volunteers. Together the two of us meet and greet new and apprehensive parents – just as I was all those years ago. Because of my positive personal experience at conference, I have made it my aim to make life a little easier for them. When I see a stressed out parent approaching, I smile and say, ‘Bring your pram here. We’d love to look after it for you and we’d love to look after you.’ After an audible sigh of relief, their frown of frustration and tiredness visibly changes to an attitude of openness and positivity. It sets them up to enjoy a great conference experience and that’s a rewarding feeling for me.
The bottom line is that life can be hard and there will always be challenges. If you are afraid of tackling the conference environment, I encourage you to step over the fear factor and just come! God loves you and we – the volunteers – are here for you. You are the reason we do what we do.