By Sherrie Norris
Now in its fifth year, the annual Rising to the Occasion Youth Rally will return once again to the Old Cove Creek Gymnasium for a three-day event beginning Wednesday April 24 and running through Friday 26
The rally will begin each evening at 7:30 p.m. and is expected to draw a large crowd, as it has in the past.
Moderator/coordinator Ethan Greene, pastor of Victory Baptist in Newland, offers an open invitation to people of all ages.
“Rising to the Occasion Youth Rallies is devoted to reaching the youth of our nation by working hand-in-hand with pastors and their churches,” Greene said. “Our desire is to see our churches come together and encourage our youth to rise to each and every occasion that God gives them — and to make a difference in their generation for Christ. We also want to be a help to pastors and youth leaders in our area churches.”
The need for this event, Greene shared was recognized originally for the youth of the High Country, but quickly branched out to reaching young people in more than four different states.
“We saw the broken hearts of many pastors over the spiritual condition of our young people and we listened to their concerns,” she said. “In December of 2014, after much time spent in prayer, preparation was made to host a meeting/rally in April of the following year, and to work hand-in-hand with pastors and their churches to provide this special opportunity, in a positive, Christ-centered, youth-focused atmosphere.”
From the beginning, Greene said, teamwork prevailed, as over 30 churches came together to make that first event a huge success, and have continued to do so on a regular basis.
“Each year, as long as God permits, we will have our main three-night youth rally the last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of April,” Greene said. “Our quarterly meetings, which have proved to be a great source of strength and encouragement, are held in July and October.
Rising to the Occasion Youth Rally is a ministry hosted by Victory Baptist Church in Newland, and Bibleway Baptist Church in Boone, and receives support primarily by pastors and churches of the High Country.
Speakers and musicians
Evangelist Cody Shew from Lenoir will headline the Wednesday night opening service. Described as a rising star in the rodeo arena, Shew declined bull riding scholarships, and a likely future in the PBR, to devote his life to the gospel ministry, Greene said. “He preaches across the country, sharing the good news to young and old alike, that joy can only be found in knowing God through a personal relationship with His son, Jesus, and serving Him.”
Music will be provided on Wednesday by a youth rally choir comprised of youth from the churches that will be moving their midweek service to be part of the event, Greene said. “Last year, we had more than 30 churches represented there, and when you have youth coming in from many churches to form one mass choir, to say it will bless your heart would be an understatement.”
Thursday’s message will be delivered by Pastor Steven Aldridge from Pageland, SC. A pastor’s son who grew up actively involved in Christian youth and conferences, Aldridge is also well known throughout those same venues as a respected leader, and has been blessed with the ability to connect with people of all ages, the youngsters, especially.
“Like Cody,” Greene said, “Steven is dedicated to sharing the good news of salvation offered through faith in Jesus and a proclaiming that God has a purpose for everyone’s life.”
Providing music that night will be The Nunn Sisters, two very talented young ladies who are sharing their gifts in meetings and revival crusades all across the county, Greene said.
Evangelist Heath Williams “a highly sought after youth conference and revival preacher,” said Greene, will be preaching on Friday night,
Greene described him, “like Cody and Steven” as a great friend, and a man in whom he places all confidence. “I have always been inspired by his passionate delivery of God’s word,” said Greene. “He has been blessed with the ability to communicate profound truths in the Bible in a way that everyone listening can understand.”
Special music on Friday will be provided by The Mylon Hayes family from Hudson. Many may recognize Hayes from his hometown of Boone and longtime member of the well-known gospel group, The Hayes Family.
“This well-loved family is ministering to hearts through their singing on a national level as they are in high demand for Southern Gospel concerts and tours, and yes, in youth rallies like ours,” said Greene. “We are excited to welcome them back again this year.”
Following the Friday night service, the gym will remain open for an extended period of time with food, fun and fellowship available to all.
Bibles and other special prizes will be given away each night, including Dollywood day passes on Friday night to one boy and one girl.
“This is a free event and everyone is welcome to attend,” said Greene, who admits to having a heart for the lost and especially for the young people in our area.
The Old Cove Creek Gymnasium is located at 207 Dale Adams Road in Sugar Grove
For more information, contact Greene at (828) 964-5763, visit www.risingtotheoccasionyouthrallies.com or follow on Facebook.