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Thousands of Young People Choose the "Uncommon" Cause

Tony Dungy, the 2007 Super Bowl winning coach, and Assemblies of God national Youth Director Jay Mooney challenged teens at the Wednesday night Orland09 Youth Rally to commit to the “Uncommon Cause” of Jesus Christ.

Tony Dungy, the 2007 Super Bowl winning coach, and Assemblies of God national Youth Director Jay Mooney challenged teens at the Wednesday night Orland09 Youth Rally to commit to the “Uncommon Cause” of Jesus Christ.

The Orange County Convention Center rumbled with praise and worship and thousands of teens filled the aisles to make known their choice. Dungy, also a best-selling author whose latest book, Uncommon, shared accounts of high school students who dared to be different. They impacted their schools and their cities with wristband messages backed by their lives declaring “I follow Christ not the crowd.” Dungy called it simple but not easy.

Though the two had not coordinated their presentations, Mooney said they praised God for the orchestration of the Holy Spirit. He had titled his message for the evening “Uncommon Cause,” with a focus on more than youth ministry. He called for “youth IN ministry for the cause of Jesus Christ.”

From an opening countdown to worship, the service crackled and flashed in high energy. Ten thousand young people joined worship leader Jeff Deyo in full volume declaring “My life is not my own . . . I forever praise you Jesus!”

Deyo led an extended time of worship following Dungy’s remarks. In both Spanish and English, he led the teens, “I will worship You…Bless the Lord O my soul, bless the Lord!” He urged the student to sing “a new song,” their own words to the Lord as the band continued to play.

In his message, Mooney chose the term “student” to address his audience, because a student is a learner. He said “Mostly, I hope to call you ‘disciple of Jesus Christ.’” A disciple is a “disciplined learner”

He appealed to the young people to rise above the low expectations of the culture because God deems them ready to take up the cause. Presentations to two outstanding students highlighted the rally and reinforced Mooney’s message.

Michael Durbin of Whitehouse, Texas, committed to walk 500 miles from his East Texas hometown all the way to Springfield, Missouri, in an extended Speed-the-Light walk-a-thon. A video report showed his reception by the executive leadership and other greeters, including a kazoo band, upon arrival at General Council headquarters.

Durbin told the audience to find out from God “what your ‘I Will’ is.” Chet Caudill, national Youth Department Student Missions director, presented Michael the 2009 Ralph Harris Award as exemplifying the spirit of the Speed-the-Light founder.

Student Katie Long was recognized as the 2009 Campus Missionary of the Year for her efforts at her high school in Diamond, Missouri. Steve Pulis, national Youth Department Student Outreach director, presented her with a monogrammed copy of the Fire Bible for students.

Mooney said the campus missionary’s points, “Pray, Live, Tell, Serve, Give,” are more than check-offs for a report or religious tips for a better you. They are characteristics of disciplined followers of Christ.

He also asked adult leaders not to dismiss young people. He suggested it is “just a little backward” to challenge teens to take their campuses for Christ but not allow them ministry in the church.

Mooney offered four “nevers” for leading students. Never do for a student what a student can do for herself/himself—Let them be disciplined learners. Never make a student believe he or she is too young for the cause and never make adults feel they are too old. Never short-sell to any generation what the Bible declares for every generation, specifically, Pentecost. Finally, never delete a Bible mandate from a generation because a mere human, a person of another generation, doesn’t believe they will get it.

Mooney issued a corresponding challenge to students from 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” He called them to step up and step out to be a disciple of Jesus Christ above all other things. “You can still be a student, athlete, artist, friend, future doctor, or dreamer. Just be that for His cause!”

With house lights raised for a face-to-face invitation, he called the youth to application and action. First, get serious about being a “disciplined learner” of Jesus Christ. Second, commit whatever you do to the glory and cause of Jesus.

The students leaped to their feet at Mooney’s challenge to let it be known they are ready and willing to be “youth IN ministry.” Ushers then distributed 10,000 “CAUSE” gel bands to be slipped on and lifted as an offering of worship.

The rally closed with the launch of “9INE,” a special initiative to raise $10 million for STL the week of September 9, 2009. A video spotlighted the appeal with a call to give the “gift of possibility” in keeping with the STL legacy. Individuals are asked to $100 or more that week.

If one in four AG students meets the challenge, they will reach the goal and give more in a single week than the total for all of last year.

Students were then asked to take out their cell phones and text “9INE” to 24625 for information on how to follow the program on Twitter, Facebook CAUSE and a special Web site. Students committing to the campaign turned their gel bands inside out, to reveal the “9INE” theme for the next month. Each student displaying the 9INE embossed inside the band received a copy of Scotty Gibbons’ book, Overflow, as “fuel” for the final leg of the race.

Mel Surface

The late Mel Surface (1946-2018) was a writer, pastor, and former staff member at the national and North Texas District Assemblies of God offices. A journalism graduate of the University of Houston, he served as a newspaper and magazine reporter and editor. The author of two books, his writings regularly appeared in a variety of print and internet publications.