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Three-day youth outreach in Prattville results in 562 professions of faithcomment (0)

January 4, 2007

By Cheryl Sloan Wray

Seeing the results from the Freedom Experience (FX) was a reminder of just how great our God is,” said Larry Jenkins, minister to students at First Baptist Church, Prattville.
FX, held Nov. 6–8 at the Prattville High School gym, was a three-day youth outreach that resulted in 961 decisions — 562 first-time professions of faith, 332 rededications and 67 unknown decisions. 
The event featured attention-getting gospel presentations by illusionist Brock Gill and the BMX stunt team Chaos on Wheels and concerts by Eleventyseven and Group 1 Crew. 
“FX in Prattville was one of the most amazing experiences of my career,” Gill said. “I was blown away at what God did.” 
He said the mission of the event is to reach those who wouldn’t normally go to a church or Christian event. 
And that happened as hundreds of students and adults came to the standing-room-only event and heard the message.
It was sponsored by Birmingham-based Vertical Ministries and coordinated with the help of the seven churches that are part of the Prattville Area Network of Youth Ministries.
“[FX] would have never happened with just one church supporting it, but when our network came together with a common purpose to bring God glory, then He chose to pour out His blessings,” Jenkins said.
The network churches are First, Prattville; First United Methodist; Camellia Baptist; East Memorial Baptist; Glynwood Baptist; and Heritage Baptist, all in Prattville, and Shoal Creek Baptist, Deatsville. 
“We have been trying to pull together a communitywide youth outreach for several years, but finally got strong enough to attempt something of this magnitude,” Jenkins said. 
FX involved hundreds of local volunteers, representing about 15 churches in the surrounding community. They raised $20,000 in donations to fund the entertainers, band and promotion, among other things. 
Students who attended FX said they were excited and encouraged by the responses it received from other youth in the area. 
Drew Young, a junior at Pratt­ville High and member of First, Pratt­ville, said the best thing about the event was Gill’s ability to grab people’s attention. 
He said Gill’s message really made listeners think about the fact that “the choices you make today affect your tomorrow and (you) throughout your life.”
Gill confirmed that things are changing in Prattville, saying he has been receiving e-mails about how Jesus is what people are talking about in school now.
Josh Allen, a junior at Prattville High and member of First, Prattville, said he was excited by the decisions his peers made for Christ at FX.
“There was a big response to all of the invitations and lives were changed. … I felt for those who didn’t respond to the message but should have,” he said.
Organizers and students agreed that it was a wonderful experience that brought churches and youth from the community together but that there are still challenges to be met. 
“Our bigger concern now is to make sure that each of those people who made a decision get connected to a local church near them where they can be discipled and grow in their relationship with our Lord,” Jenkins said.
For more information about FX, visit its Web site at www.freedomexperience.com.
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