La’Tia Coleman

Summit Student Conference La'Tia Coleman 2015 Tennessee“Drinking water out of a fire hydrant.”

“If you want to be a leader, you must be a reader.”

“You come to find your bridesmaids, not your groom.”

I heard all of these phrases during my first day at Summit. I didn’t fully understand what they meant at time but can now see how they summarize the Summit experience.

How I came to Summit

I first heard about Summit years ago when I was a teenager but never really considered going. It wasn’t until early 2014 when I really learned what it was and thought attending could be a possibility for me. A friend shared a promotional video on Google+, and it piqued my interest. I went to and read more information about the two-week conference before deciding it was a little too late for me to go. As a 20 year-old college sophomore, I figured I was too old for a conference geared toward preparing high school students for college. I didn’t want to attend and risk being the only person my age.

A friend of mine attended one of the Summit Colorado sessions that summer. When she returned, she told my sister and me how much she enjoyed it and assured us that there were people around our age and a little older than us. A thought formed in the back of my head that maybe I could plan to go the next year.

I heard about Summit again in early 2015 and seriously considered the possibility of attending. My desire to go grew when my parents heard about it and encouraged me and my sister to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Although I was scheduled to graduate college before attending the conference, I believed the things I would learn at Summit could apply to any age. We registered for the July 5-18 Summit Tennessee session in April and waited for time to pass.

A few weeks before we left for Summit, my dad approached me and asked what I hoped/expected to get out of Summit so he could pray for me. I had to stop and think for a moment before answering.

Growing up in a Christian home, I had two loving parents willing to explain biblical concepts to a curious child. I’ve never doubted the legitimacy of the Bible and my faith and seldom thought to wonder why I believed it was true. However, I was not always confident enough in my knowledge to “give a reason for the hope within me” and providing legitimate reasons and evidence for my beliefs.

I told my dad, “I hope to better understand my Christian worldview so I can know and defend it more effectively. I would also like to form meaningful and lasting relationships with like-minded people around my age.”

Topics and Speakers

My sister and I arrived at Summit at 4pm on Sunday, July 5 after an 8 ½-hour drive. By lights out at 11pm, I felt overwhelmed. I quickly understood how Summit was like “drinking water from a fire hydrant.” Over the next two weeks, I attended and took notes on sessions taught by the brilliant minds of Dr. Bill Brown, Jeff Myers, Sean and Josh McDowell, and Christopher Yuan among many others. I heard what they had to say about subjects like abortion, worldview, leadership, homosexuality, defending the faith, porn, economics, the Bible, euthanasia, Islam, cloning, and much more. I’ve never sat through so many lectures/discussions in the small amount of time we had, but I still feel like I was able to grasp a good bit of what was said.

All of the speakers provided recommendations for books that would further expand the subjects taught in the sessions or just good books that would be beneficial to read. I have always loved to read but wasn’t sure exactly what subjects or books to focus on as a young adult. Now I have around 50 books and resources to find and read, taking care of the next 5 years of my life at least! Summit really believes in their motto, “To be a leader, you must be a reader.”

Small Group

On the first night, I met all the members of my small group. As we found each other and our small group leader, one of the staffers, announced that, as women, we come to Summit “to find out bridesmaids, not our groom.” I remember laughing at the concept. I definitely didn’t plan on meeting a guy and deciding I could marry him in only two weeks, but I also didn’t think it was possible to meet young women and consider them my friends after only knowing them for two weeks.

However, that Thursday night I texted my mom after small group, “This group is definitely an answer to prayer as I never thought I’d have a group of girls around my age that I could talk about serious topics with. I’m praying that the relationships we are forming now will last beyond Summit.”

I already can’t (and don’t) want to imagine life without these seven amazing young women in my life. I met a spectacular group of girls and a phenomenal small group leader that I consider to be my friends. I really do hope and pray that we can stay in touch and continue to cultivate our friendships after we leave Summit.

I thank God for Summit Ministries. I don’t know anywhere else where I could have had the opportunity to grow and be challenged intellectually, relationally, and spiritually.

“Drinking out of a fire hydrant,” “If you want to be a leader, you must be a reader,” and “You come to find your bridesmaids, not your groom”… I now understand what all of these phrases mean. They don’t just summarize the Summit experience anymore. They summarize my Summit experience, and I’m extremely thankful for it.