Is an Encounter With God for Me?

If you are like me, you have had some pretty interesting life experiences. Some that were amazing, some not worth mentioning, and those that fall in the category of “I wish I had never gone there” and “I will definitely will never do that again”. Nobody likes to waste valuable time or get into awkward situations. If you are reading this blog, you must be trying to decide if coming to a Son-Burn Encounters is going to be amazing, just eh, or a “where’s the door?” kind of thing.

Maybe you have had encounters with God before and want more. Possibly you are tired of the boring church scene, or perhaps you could be someone who is unsure if God even exists. Maybe you are just seeking truth. So, would going to an Encounter be for you? I would like to tell you about my experiences at the Encounters so that you can see if you can relate and make your decision whether or not you want to jump in and come.

What Are You Looking For?

My question for you is what are you looking to find? I tend to believe no matter who we are, or where we come from, deep within us lies a fundamental need to be happy. We need to feel loved and accepted. Many of us have experienced our fair share of heartbreak and rejection, leading us to build up walls and close doors to our hearts and minds. We prefer to be leery and suspicious rather than trusting and open.

I also tend to know for a fact that we need to feel power and control over our lives. Most of us have followed a solid career plan and worked hard to reach our goals, but for some reason we suddenly find ourselves lacking focus and direction. Pain and brokenness attack. Lack and doubt cause stress. Loneliness and fear looms and lingers. Addictions take over. Chaos and confusion dominate.

Maybe you are just looking for a way to make an impact on the world by leading others to a better way. You may have amazing insights into creating an atmosphere where others are encouraged to be who they were called to be. Does any of this ring true for you?

What Will You Find?

I came to my first Encounter after meeting Beau, Josh and Rafa, three of the leaders at Son-Burn Encounters Ministry, at a conference here in Pittsburgh. They were gathered in a large group of young people who were overwhelmingly full of joy and laughter and seemed very closely knit. I knew there was something different about them. Before I could even walk over and introduce myself, Josh came over and sparked up a friendly conversation. I then met Rafa and Beau. My first thought was “Are these guys for real?” They seemed so different. Josh showed me the Son-Burn Facebook Page and encouraged me to take a look and come to a meeting they were having soon. That first impression left a lasting memory with me, and I knew that I would have to go to this meeting. I wanted to know what it was I saw in them and on their faces that I couldn’t identify, something that made them stand out in a crowd. They had a unique joy and confidence rarely seen. I wondered if this scene could offer me a place where I could get the love and acceptance I was craving, and learn how to receive power and control over some of the things in my life that I was battling. After watching the Son-Burn YouTube videos, and seeing everyone’s passion about God, I decided that they were genuine in what they had to say. I felt I could trust them enough to allow myself to experience this Encounter. I was really impressed with the guest speaker who was well-known and coming all the way from Australia. I figured if I felt uncomfortable, I could go the first night or even excuse myself out early. What are your thoughts so far? Does this sound like something you might be seeking?

My First Encounter Experience

As I drove up the long, windy dirt road to the location in Leechburg, I was really thankful for my GPS. At the top of this hill stood several small buildings, a few pitched tents, and a tour bus. It sort of felt like I was at a retreat or something. I began to second guess my decision to come. After making sure I was in the right place by asking some familiar friendly faces who were walking by, I got out of the car and decided to go inside. There was a sign that said “Please take off your shoes. You are on Holy Ground”. I headed down the steps to find several young, happy people gathered around nacho chips and hummus. As I walked into the main area where the place was abuzz with activity and live music playing, everyone I saw at the conference came over to me and greeted me with hugs. There was a large crowd gathered and a lot of new faces. The majority of people were around the age of twenty-two, so a vibrant, enthusiastic, fresh crowd. The atmosphere was very warm, informal and inviting. Right away, I noticed there were lights and cameras filming the worship team and leaders and instantly, this experience became much more than I had envisioned in my mind – more than I could have hoped for. I was pleasantly surprised and very excited to be there. I danced and sang along with the worship team, listened to powerful teachings, and met the most kind and friendly people. They were normal like me; just wanting to have fun. I never felt so much love, acceptance, and hunger to know God. Everyone was freely expressing their emotions. In the outpouring of genuine love and acceptance, I was swept away by the flow. It was as if all our hearts became one beat in unity. This was a very safe place to explore who God is and what He has for me. I wouldn’t say this was like a typical “church experience”. The leaders were so humble and hungry for more from God. They shared the platform graciously and lead from the place of example. The honor and love they had for each other and God was contagious. They just wanted to see us all experiencing God’s love and power. I had no feelings of judgement and impossible expectation. There was no pressure to do anything or say anything or believe anything, it was just a free atmosphere of seeking. There was so much laughter in this place! Everyone was happy to be there. I had an amazing time and definitely was looking forward to the next gathering. It was an enriching life experience where I knew I began to build long-term relationships. Does this sound like any experience you have ever had?

Change of Venue

The next Encounter will be held at the Comfort Inn at RIDC Park, a few miles east of Pittsburgh off Route 28. This change in venue provides a more central location and a larger space to accommodate the growing number of attendees. This room has plenty of chairs and lots of floor space. Many of us choose to sit on the floor with blankets. It is a very casual, laid-back atmosphere. Upon paying your registration fee of $30, you have all-weekend access to the event and food provided. The main focus is always on having an encounter with God. You can enjoy the freedom to go as deep into the experience as you choose, and also the option to sit back and observe, which is perfect for those who are first-timers and need to determine how much of God they are seeking. No pressure. So, are you planning to come out and see what this is all about?

What Do You Stand to Gain?

You may be wondering, well, “Why should I go to this Encounter?” “How could this possibly change my life?” If you decide to come to an encounter, you will meet people who truly care about you. Love, peace, joy, gentleness, kindness flows all around you in an atmosphere of edification and encouragement. If you are seeking answers to life’s most difficult questions, you can be counseled. If you are feeling stress, confused, frustrated or burdened, you can be comforted. If you are lacking, you can hear about a source of provision. If your life is chaotic, you can see a way out of your mess into peace. If you feel bound, you can be set free. If you feel lost and doubt your purpose in life or need direction, you can learn a new way. If you seek truth, you will be taught and your understanding will be enlightened. If you want an outlet to make a difference in the world, you can be motivated.

These encounters offer a place to let it all go and just bask in the healing that flows. Discover your gifts and be encouraged in them. Come to a fountain of new life. Trust again. Leave with a new perspective, fine-tuned focus, and lots of friends. Come seeking, and leave having found. Did I convince you yet?

Get Connected at Sonburn.org

If you are still not sure about whether a Son-Burn Encounter is for you, check out all the social media to hear teachings and see clips of past encounters. Once you decide to come, you too will be connected to daily teaching, encouragement, prayers, and counseling through various media outlets like Facebook and Voxer. There is an on-going daily feed of open dialogue between all of us here at Son-Burn Encounters. You will find a safe place to share what’s on your heart and mind and will never feel that you have to face a challenge alone.

In the Bible, it talks about how we are EACH an important part of God’s overall master plan to change the world. Like your fingerprints, you are unique, and the role the Creator established for you cannot be fulfilled by anyone else but you. We all coexist to achieve a common goal of spreading love and peace. You are truly needed in order for God’s body to function at it’s optimum capacity. So here at Son-Burn Encounters Ministries, we genuinely want to get to know you, so come as you are. I can’t wait to meet you! Whatever questions you have, please ask.

So what are you seeking to gain by coming out to our next Encounter?
Leave your comments and questions below and you will get a response back. We care about what you have to say. Let us know what other topics you would like to see discussed.

Diane Gowaty