Seven years ago, Kaley Lowry was a part of the youth group at Christway Community Church in Ooltewah, Tennessee. She was among a group of students from the church who had come to Shocco to experience “The Challenge.”
This year, as a college student, she helped lead that same challenge with 109 students, giving them an opportunity to experience a fraction of what Jesus went through during the last 12 hours of His life.
The Challenge is physically, spiritually, and emotionally grueling in an attempt to recreate the final hours before His walk to the cross, Kaley said. Students are divided into teams with natural leaders not able to talk for 12 hours. Designated leaders were forced to confront their weaknesses, which brought out their strengths. There were demanding exercises that were designed to be unfair so that each would better understand that while Jesus was treated unfairly, “he still remained silent,” she said.
“Because of His great love for us,” He accepted the torture, the pain and the humbling.
To put Jesus’ challenge into perspective they could understand, the students stayed awake most of the night, only getting about two hours sleep. They prayed for an hour and then their last leg of the journey involved carrying a large plank of wood up the hill to recreate Jesus’ walk to the cross.
“When the last student made it up the hill around 10 a.m., we joined together in worship to celebrate our Lord’s sacrifice and his love for us,” Kaley said. “We hope that our students will remember that Jesus believed we were worth it when he went through the ultimate challenge for us. We also hope that they will know that Christ loves us in a way that we can barely begin to comprehend and let that love change the way we live.”