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Rockledge Baptist takes action by loving youthcomment (0)

October 23, 2008

By Sondra Washington

Phillip Maeger’s children were the only children present on his first Sunday as music director and youth pastor of Rockledge Baptist Church, Attalla, nearly two years ago. And for two weeks as Maeger drove around the Sand Mountain community, he still saw no youth. Yet he kept his eyes open, hoping to find some and reach them for Christ.

Soon Maeger discovered a world he never knew existed — at least not here in the Bible Belt.

“I was raised in church from the time I was a small kid, and I thought everybody was like that,” Maeger said. “I had never seen the opposite end of the spectrum.”

According to him, the community was filled with drug abuse, drinking problems, split families and “tons of children,” many of whom had never been to church. But in little more than a year’s time, he has seen God do a mighty work in the lives of area youth.

“In December, I had about 11 kids, and we took 10 of them to [a Breakaway Ministries retreat] in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and two were saved that night,” Maeger said. “Then we had several rededicate.”

A short time later, Maeger began teaching basic Bible principles to help them become established in their faith.

“The basic things that we take for granted, they had no clue about,” he said, citing the stories of creation, Cain and Abel and Noah’s Ark as examples. “Basically I went back to Genesis. What is sin? Where did it come from? What are the consequences of it? Then we started getting them into the New Testament.”

To help the youth better understand Christianity, Rockledge Baptist Pastor Rick Vaughn recently held a meeting to answer many of their remaining questions.

To ensure the youth come to Bible study, Maeger spends nearly two hours picking them up before Sunday and Wednesday night services and dropping them off afterward, driving as far as Albertville — all while working two additional jobs. And his efforts are paying off.

“I see a new kid every Wednesday night,” he said, noting at a recent service with 26 youth in attendance. “Satan had his hand on this community, and he was just squeezing every ounce of faith that everyone had. But I’ve seen a miraculous change in them, and [the Lord’s] brought them up to where they are now established in the church.”

This summer, 16 from the Etowah Baptist Association church youth ministry took a trip to Blue Horizon Church Retreat in Panama City, Fla.

Maeger said he will never forget the way God moved the first night as six came to know the Lord as their personal Savior.

“It’s been a great ride watching God move,” Maeger said of his first ministry, adding, “I stand in awe and say, ‘God, this is all you.’”

Vaughn says God is working in Maeger’s “gift for evangelism.”

“I think it has helped the spiritual morale of the church seeing the Lord working through the young people,” Vaughn said. “I think it has inspired the church. We just praise the Lord.”

Despite the life-changing results the youth ministry has produced thus far, Maeger said there is much more to be done.

“It’s a constant mission up here,” he said. “I wish that we can reach every one of them.”

Rodney Stovall, Sunday School director at Rockledge Baptist, said reaching youth is a mission that all Christians must take on.

“We should realize that the young people of the world are the future of the church,” he said.

“It has often been said, ‘Actions speak louder than words.’ This is still true today. We need to stand up and be counted for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, just as He stood up in our place at Calvary. Let’s all come together and support the youth of our churches.”

Maeger sees the need for actions, too, and sums up the theme of his ministry with the words of a song he sang in youth choir: “Worshiping on Sunday is just a way to hide if we can’t face on Monday a dying world outside.”

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