LIHUE — Julia Peck has gone to Kauai Island Ministries’ youth rally for over five years.
“I come here for a lot of reasons,” she said. “I enjoy seeing other youth groups and worshipping with them.”
The Kapaa High School student was one of over 300 youth who converged on the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall Friday night.
“My friends tell me I need to go,” Peck said.
This was the 11th year of the islandwide youth rally, which serves as a way for young people to connect and strengthen their faith.
“I like that I can meet people who enjoy the same things I do,” said Sanoe Grijalva.
The event started with a meet-and-greet in the lobby. When the doors to the auditorium opened, people scrambled to the front to get a good seat.
But they didn’t stay seated for long.
For about an hour, performers entertained the crowd with hip-hop and hula dances and invited the crowd to dance with them. Then, an all-youth band, complete with flutes, saxophones, drums and piano, led by David Leong, pastor at Kauai Bible Church, took to the stage.
Sarah Funtanilla sang songs like “Unstoppable,” “Beautiful One,” “You are Holy” and “Our God.”
She hopes that if the group gets anything out of the rally, it’s that they find reasons to get closer to God.
“I pray that we will find reasons to want to worship You,” she said. “It’s because of You that we’re here right now.”
Matt Higa, pastor of New Hope Kauai, gave the keynote address, themed “you are what you eat.”
“Everyone loves food. That’s the best bridge to connect us all together,” he said. “Really, in life, you are what you eat. If you eat only potato chips, candy and drink soda every day, then that’s what you’re going to become. And spiritually, mentally, what you ingest into your soul, that’s who you are.”
During the rally, a list of student-led Bible studies were presented. Students at Kapaa High School, Waimea High School, Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School and Kauai Community College were on hand to talk about their groups and how they would invite others to join them.
Funtanilla, who attends Waimea High School, participates in her school’s Bible study. She said when it comes to inviting others to join the club, it’s beyond her.
“I don’t believe it’s me. I believe it’s the Holy Spirit working through me,” she said.
For Funtanilla, it’s about being there for people who may need a shoulder to lean on.
“Being out there, and being there for anyone who needs you is the best way to start a conversation,” she said.