CONTINENTAL — Holding an event for teenagers in Northwest Ohio has been in the Rev. Jimmy Fry’s heart for about two years. This burden led Free Christian Church of God to organize the Storm Youth Conference. The word storm stands for “sent to rescue mankind.”
“We’ve been planning this since about the beginning of the year,” said Fry, who has been the youth pastor at Free Christian Church of God for the past two years, “but it’s been on my heart for a couple years now.”
Fry, who grew up at Free Christian Church of God where his father is the head pastor, said he and other church leaders really saw the need for something to take place in the area for teenagers.
“I graduated 10 years ago,” he said. “Just since then, what kids have to deal with just blows me a way. We have had a lot of suicides and attempted suicides in our area. Drug use is up, and there is a lot more kids hurting themselves with things like cutting.”
One of the top issues Fry sees teens dealing with involves bullying and negative peer pressure.
“I think the foundation of the home is shattered for a lot of these kids,” said Fry. “There is no security at home, so they look for it at school which just causes a chaotic mess.”
The event, which will be held on Aug. 18 at Free Christian Church of God, will be all day, starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 10 p.m. The $20 registration fee will include lunch, dinner and a T-shirt. Those in seventh to 12th grade are invited to attend, but need to register by Aug. 11.
Fry, whose own youth department averages around 80 kids, said they are hoping to reach the full capacity of their church which is around 400 people. This is not just about growing Free Christian Church of God, though.
“This is about growing the church,” Fry said. “Not just our church, but the church as a whole. A lot of times there is this competition between churches about numbers, but this is about the body of Christ working together. We want full youth groups to come and leave with a spark — that’s why we had it right before school starts.”
In that spirit, Fry invited over 400 different churches to attend the conference.
“We’ve sent emails, stopped at or called 437 churches,” he said. “We hit a brick wall with a lot of the churches, though.”
Currently, they have 30 adults scheduled to work the event. Twenty of those are from Free Christian Church of God, and 10 are from other churches, some as far away as Toledo and Cleveland.
The day will start with breakout sessions. Teens will choose two of the four sessions that will be offered.
“All the classes will be Biblically based and deal with things like peer pressure, how to make good future decisions and dating.” explained Fry. “One of our speakers hasn’t quite decided what he’s going to talk on yet, but it will line up with these kinds of topics.”
Fry went on to explain that the speakers for the breakout sessions will all be either from the pastoral staff or members of Free Christian Church of God.
After the breakout session, the group will meet for a box lunch. After lunch, there will be an informal time of games and other fun activities. Youth for Christ, a college ministry, will be there also to meet with the kids.
Dinner will feature a taco bar.
“I’m an advocate for good food,” said Fry.
After dinner, there will be a one hour worship session, followed by Fry speaking for the main session.
“We were low budget this year,” he said, “and I’m cheap.”
The day will end with testimonies and a concert by Christian rap group, Life Line.
There will also be drawings throughout the day with prizes ranging from a gift card to an iPad.
“A lot of local businesses have donated money and prizes to this event,” said Fry. “What wasn’t covered by that, was picked up by our mission board. Every kid that comes will get a chance to win something.”
Although this event has taken many months to plan, Fry is hopeful that through this conference, area churches, especially teens, will be impacted.
“We want them to leave with a unity as a church group and with a passion to win the lost,” he said. “We want them to go out and do what the Bible has commanded, and that is to take the world by storm.”
Event: Storm Youth Conference
Where: Free Christian Church of God, 20799 State Route 15, Continental
When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Aug. 18
To register go to www.stormnwo.com; registration deadline is Aug. 11
For details, call 419-596-3103.