Almost 400 competitors.
Over 50 staff.
128 timer people.
11 different speech categories
3 types of debate
1000’s of judge slots
Heather says: Have you ever thought about how many different perspectives goes on in a Speech and Debate Tournament? I usually work- seeing the tournament from whatever perspective I am in, or where I am at. This time I judged, witnessing things I might not typically see. However, God is working through us all- students, parents, staff, the facility workers, community judges, etc. It takes a community of people to do what we do! Because I judged this tournament- seeing it from a new perspective, and I was reminded how we each have our own perspective. I watched nervous competitors walk into rooms, I saw kids praying with each other, I saw stressful situations, I sat with other parents while filling out ballots, I had conversations that touched me, I saw tears, I saw joy…Through it all God was there. It’s always nice to get a new perspective, but I think sometimes I know I need to remember- my perspective isn’t the only one.
Kristi says: In North Carolina I judged a LOT. And I learned some things that informed me, inspired me, delighted me, challenged me. Mostly, what I learned is that there are a LOT of kids out there who are working hard for a better
future. They are preparing themselves to be researchers, policy makers, and
leaders who are governed by values that transcend today’s desires. I
learned anew how much I love investing in that effort with my own feeble
attempts to help them along the way by writing ballots. I learned that kids
can get to my heart faster than anything else. And I learned that there are
lots of other moms and dads out there talking, talking, talking to today’s
youth, pouring heart and soul into encouraging them, and coming together as
a big community to stand together for what is hopeful.
We asked friends from around the country…
What did God reveal to you while at one of the largest Speech and Debate Qualifiers this season?
V- (parent)- I saw again this year what a “family” NCFCA is to us. I served on staff and arrived later than I had planned. The teenage son of dear church friends had fallen 50 feet from a cliff in a terrible hiking accident on Sat before the tournament was to begin on Monday. He lay unconscious and in critical condition in the hospital. During the tournament week, my husband called to tell me that another close friend had died of melanoma–not a complete surprise–but much sooner than expected. This friend also had teenage sons. So our church (and particularly our youth group) was really hurting.
All that to say, the burdens I was bearing–with and for my church family–were also shouldered during the tournament week by my NCFCA family. My staff group cried out to God with me for my dear friends at home. They also tenderly prayed for me–that I could complete the tasks the Lord had given me to do in Black Mountain. Most graciously, they offered to cover my tasks if I needed to leave.
I’m always telling my students and our club members that NCFCA isn’t just about the competition. It isn’t even just about learning communication skills. But God reminded me of that reality again in a powerful way at Black Mountain by giving me sisters in Christ who fulfilled the command to “bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”
S- (parent)- Although it is easy to be swept away into the excitement of competition, once again I was reminded of why we participate in NCFCA. Our children are stepping into a terribly confused and desperate world. The purpose of this speech and debate training is so our children will be well prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks them to give the reason for the hope they have — and to do so with gentleness and respect.
J- (parent)- Stepping out of your comfort zone! Trying something new and trusting the Lord will provide the means, the way, and the joy. You just have to put in the effort, let go of the outcome, and give the glory to God.
V- (parent)- As I walked the grounds of Ridgecrest, during the National Open, I was struck by the overwhelming love of the kids praying for one another, in little alcoves, outside doors, and then in a massive group hug, our Region, prior to the awards ceremony. Two pervasive thoughts ran through my head: (1) Proverbs 16:3 Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts shall be established. and (2) And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this? God is at work in NCFCA in raising up the remnant of believers to have His heart, His truth and His voice. Just as Moses was given a voice through Aaron, NCFCA is raising up God-loving believers as orators of the Truth in a lost world. What I witnessed in North Carolina was a real, tangible example of Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. NCFCA is raising up Kingdom builders, that love God, one another and speak truth to a world where relativism and deception abound.
S- (parent)- I think what I most learned pertained to my own children. I got to see their character in action. I got to see them respond to trials, I got to see how much they can press through and when they need to stop and recharge. Being amongst fellow believers on a big but safe campus really allowed me to give my kids a bit more space and watch how they handled it. I judged continuously, but checked in with the little kids and big sis babysitter between rounds. I also got to watch other people’s children and see how they responded to trials. NCFCA kids are very impressive; they aren’t perfect but none of us are. I am most impressed by students who are aware of their surroundings and want to engage the world for God’s sake. Students, who stand out, are the ones who greet moms on the sidewalks or who befriend future competitors or novices. Students who see beyond the moment and spread God’s love wherever they are the ones which lead me to lift up praise to our Lord. Engaging like this is so so challenging for introverted children like mine, but it’s what the Lord calls us to, and I challenge my children that they are being prideful if they succumb to protecting themselves in an introverted fashion when the should be reaching out to share the love of Christ. May God give us grace to keep growing in love toward one another and Him!
A- (parent)- A LOT! From praying with parents to encouraging students, and sharing my experience of laughing so hard I cried during an impromptu round…God was present through it all.
H and L (parents)- North Carolina was a very special tournament for us this year. What a blessing it was to be with all the other families and to have a chance to hear speeches from so many students. The setting in itself is a picture of God’s creation, as we enjoyed the rolling hills and the sunsets as each day closed. We especially enjoyed watching from our window as a small tribe of young students climb the hill behind the conference center to place their chosen Bible verses at the foot of the cross on the top of the hill. We are so thankful for the families we have met and the special friendships that we have developed across the generations, not only in our own region, but across the entire country! What a blessing to see God working to build relationships and develop talents for His glory!
P- (parent)- As a parent who was judging, it was fun to sit at tables with new faces, meet new people from other parts of the country! A National Open is a unique opportunity to meet and connect with a larger group of homeschoolers across the country. It’s enriching to experience being part of that larger group of people. There are many people like you, and you might meet some like-minded folks and establish new friendships.
Help your kids recognize that judging styles vary from across the country: people see and judge differently. One debate ballot said they didn’t like it when the debaters said at the beginning of a cross-ex, “I trust you’re doing well today.” The judge thought it sounded insincere, and voted off of that. There is no way to know what judges are going to think about things like this. Another judge may find it rude if you don’t ask. Be yourself and be sincere (and of course do be polite). That is all you can do. 🙂
S- (parent)- The NC Open is one of my favorite tournaments each year! This year I was reminded of the NCFCA Mission Statement of “…addressing life’s issues from a biblical worldview in a manner that glorifies God.” I was challenged to make sure I was doing that in my daily walk with Christ and actually living it out, not just asking students to do it at a tournament. Taking the focus off “my tournament” to walking it out from the lens of one focused on serving Christ caused me to be more patient, concerned more for others and way more loving! I had the true joy that only comes from Christ even during my most tired moments. It was good to go back to the mission statement and live it out.
photo credit: Julieanne Photography