Now, picture this. Imagine a few thousand high schoolers jumping up and down, dancing to the rhythm of worship, and singing praises to the Lord.
In 2009, when I was in high school, it was this scene at the RICE Rally that made me think: “wow, this Christianity thing must be pretty special”.
The RICE Rally
It’s really quite difficult to describe what the RICE Rally is. Essentially, it’s a 3 hour Christian conference that is contextualised for the high school demographic.
The night usually begins with a few upbeat worship songs that is accompanied by spectacular lighting. This is followed by arena games, gospel focused dance routines, and in recent years, a few verses of rapping.
After all the fun and games, the spectacular lighting is dimmed, the amazing band steps off the stage, and the room goes quiet as the Bible is read and the speaker begins to preach.
Ultimately, the best part of the RICE Rally is that the Gospel is preached to high schoolers who have never heard the good news of Jesus.
My own experience
In 2009, a Christian friend of mine invited me to the RICE Rally. He was attending with his church’s youth group, and I’m guessing that he was encouraged to bring any “non-Christian friends”.
Matt Chandler was the speaker. I remember very clearly what he said on that day. He preached from Ephesians chapter 2 and the passage spoke directly into my heart.
Up to that point, I was always trying to meet my mum’s, and my family’s, expectations. However, the idea that someone would ‘love’ me and ‘sacrifice’ for me, despite my failure to meet their expectation, was something profound.
This really started a chain of events that spanned until the end of high school in late 2010. I told my mum that I wanted to find out more about Christianity. I started visiting a church, I started reading the Bible, and I thought critically about the profound message that I heard at the 2009 rendition of the RICE Rally.
Eventually, in early 2011, I gave my life to Jesus.
Today, I attended the RICE Rally again.
Once again, the night commenced with a few songs from Hillsong Young and Free, and even an upbeat version of ‘In Christ Alone’.
The speaker was introduced via a game, and the gospel focused dance routine highlighted critical social issues that are prevalent in a high schooler’s life, including: parental expectations, the Higher School Certificate (or in other words, the university entrance exams), relationships and social acceptance.
This year’s RICE Rally theme was ‘Temporary Forever’. The speaker spoke about the temporary and fleeting nature of society’s desires, dreams and problems. He noted that the only inevitability was death itself, and that only God’s kingdom remains forever.
Further, he explained to the high schoolers that ‘sin’, which makes us deserving of God’s punishment, doesn’t just mean doing “extremely bad stuff”. Instead, it was “knowing very well that you are mortal, but living as if you are immortal”.
Sometimes, I wonder if 12, 13 or even 17 year old teenagers, without a church background, are able to comprehend such messages. After all, not every adult comprehends and accepts such messages. However, it always amazes me how God is able to speak into the hearts of young children.
The speaker offered anyone who had questions, or had committed their life to Jesus, to walk outside and talk to someone. Consequentially, hundreds of high schoolers left their chairs and walked out the hall under a banner that was decorated with fairy lights, which inscribed the word ‘eternity’.
These high schoolers were turning away from the temporary and walking towards to the eternal. It was truly a sight to behold.
Jia Pan Xiao is a graduate lawyer working in Sydney. Jia Pan attends GracePoint Chinese Presbyterian Church, and in his spare time, he enjoys watching American sports and drinking coffee.
Jia Pan Xiao's previous articles may be viewed at
Jia Pan Xiao attends GracePoint Chinese Presbyterian Church and is an employment lawyer working in Sydney. In his spare time, Jia Pan enjoys watching American sports, drinking coffee and devouring chocolate mud-cake.
Jia Pan Xiao's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jia-pan-xiao.html