EQUIP 2017

"The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.'" - Mark 12:29-31

What a blessing it is to experience the fellowship of believers as we come together to live out these commandments! This past weekend several of our churches gathered together at First Baptist Church in Barnesville for EQUIP 2017. The goal is always to equip students for the work God has called them to do. The focus this year was on the previous verses. We are all called to love, and we should be equipped to do so.

If you have never been in a room full of teenagers who are worshiping the Lord, you should try it. Nothing is quite as refreshing as seeing the joy that some of them bring to worship. I think we need to be careful not to snuff out that enthusiasm, but to encourage it. As we love God with all we have and all we are, we should get excited about who He is and what He is doing. It is not about entertainment or who can produce the best show. Worship is about expressing love to the One who made us. We were reminded on Friday night that we cannot truly love God unless we know Him. As our knowledge of Him grows, so should our love for Him.

Each year we spend our Saturday afternoon participating in an activity that demonstrates the theme of what we are emphasizing. This year the students and their leaders went on a scavenger hunt to find items that would be used to support area ministries. They collected food, hygiene items, plates and cups, diapers, and soap among other things that will go to five different compassion ministries throughout our four county region. It was a competition with a purpose. In the end, there were over 3000 items collected. That not 3000 plates or diapers. That's 3000 packages of plates, diapers, or whatever else was on the list. Praise the Lord!

Loving others consistently is a challenge for most of us. Jesus pointed out that even the wicked love those who love them. He also said that if we cannot love the people we do see, then we cannot love God whom we cannot see. We are surrounded by hurting people every day. Most have genuine needs that we are capable of meeting if we were to just invest a little time in finding out what those needs are. For some it is simply a need for a friend or a kind word. Some need encouragement or a shoulder to cry on. Others have more tangible needs like food or clothing. Foster children need loving homes. Addicts need a place of support and recovery. Lost people need directions to the Savior. Hopeless people need hope. Spiritually dead people need life that only comes through a relationship with the Giver of life, Jesus. Each one of us may not be able to meet every need, but we can each meet some of them. And together we make a difference.

I am thankful to be a part of EQUIP and what God is doing through the CBA. Thank you to all the churches who brought their students. Thank you to all our breakout leaders. Thank you to the great speakers and worship team. Thank you to FBC Barnesville for hosting us so well. Thank you to all the pastors, youth minister, and volunteers who worked behind the scenes planning and preparing. And thank you to parents who entrusted us with your children, so we could share this experience with them.

We will continue what was started this weekend with EQUIP Missions this summer. Even if you were not able to be there this weekend, we hope you will join us for this time of serving our communities and worshiping together. Save the dates: June 25-28. You can click here for more information or to register your group.