This tops my list of yet another reason to love Covington and Newton County. What is most inspiring is the passion for sharing biblical truths with others exhibited by young adults. What you may not know is this movement was started by three Newton County students who were inspired by attending Forward Conference for young adults held in June.
Forward Conference is an annual event aimed at inspiring and empowering young people across the country and around the world and features an array of influential speakers and talented music artists. This year’s guests included Jentezen Franklin, Rich Wilkerson, Jr., Banning Liebscher and Reggie Dabbs. Presented by Free Chapel, an evangelical, multi-cultural church with Campuses all throughout Georgia, Forward Conference aims to provide an atmosphere that both encourages students through inspirational teachings, and cultivates their God-given purpose.
I’ve witnessed firsthand how powerful this conference can be and the impact it can have on adolescent lives. Trey Barfield, Levi Spurling and Abby Johnston are three young adults who were radically changed and inspired to begin a movement in their own community after attending this year.
Levi shared this on Facebook following the 2016 conference: "Had an amazing time at Forward. God has truly blessed me with amazing friends and youth pastors to share this memory and I will live every day of my life through the Lord and continue to spread his word to many people."
Both born in 1999, Trey and Levi have been best friends since age 5, sharing many treasured moments but this may well be the most special of all. Perhaps Levi's Mom summed it up best with this comment, ‘Best friends since you were 5 years old. Now 18, starting your own bible study in hopes of influencing instead of being influenced. Soon to be leaving headed to Bible college trying to become a leader instead of a follower. Wanting to impact the world for the One who came to save the world. You may face adversity. You may lose friends. You may fall 1000 times, but you WILL always get back up and try again.’
One spark of inspiration is a picture with these words--What if God could use us to change our city? These young adults share a simple but powerful mission to encourage, inspire, empower and pray for one another in unity. God spoke to them through these words ‘You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16) Jesus says that Christians, likewise, must penetrate society while keeping themselves from being influenced by sin in the world. We don’t just live out our faith inside the walls of our churches and of our homes. We’re not to be of the world, but we’re to be in the world. We’re citizens of an earthly kingdom as well as a heavenly one. Citizens participate in the culture, everything from what children are taught in school to what appears on TV screens.
With support and guidance of Central Community Church Youth Pastor Brandon Walton and Senior Pastors Darrell and Donna Allen and others, Barfield, Spurling and Johnston began a weekly bible study and fellowship for fellow students on the Covington Square. The first movement held June 27th was attended by 27 students, 9 of whom dedicated their lives to God and were baptized July 9th at Yellow River Park in Porterdale. A recent prayer vigil was held outside the Newton County Board of Education. Youth leader Brandon Walton supported their decision to pray for all those involved in education, from top leaders to all employees, including principals, teachers, bus drivers and others.
Attendance continues to grow with each meeting but their biggest hope is that they inspire others to start faith inspired movements in neighboring cities, counties, states and continue growing.
The Movement meets every Monday evening at 7 p.m. on the Covington Square and is open to all students of Newton County and surrounding areas. There will be no service due to the Labor Day holiday but services will resume on Monday September 11th. Find them on Facebook @themovementcovington and on Instagram and Twitter at themovementcov.