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Beats by Mark: April

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We serve an amazing God and we have some amazing volunteers and students involved in this ministry.  Everyone came together to pull off one of our best retreats to date. It was an incredible mixture of fun, laughter, relaxing, community, and very deep discussions about how to enjoy God.

Benson Avis, Matt Virgin, Austin Smith, Tori Densley, and Morgan Scott all worked extremely hard on a video that allowed students to share deep parts of their story and how God changed them. It was a beautiful video that will be available on youtube soon. God really used this video and the stories told to open up other students about things going on in their life. It is so incredible to see how God uses so many different pieces and people to chase down one person and show him or her that He loves them deeply.

Benson Avis delivered his first sermon on this retreat and knocked it out of the park. Many many students talked about how much his sermon impacted them as he talked about three different types of people: people who are dead, people who need a reason to celebrate, and people who are celebrating. There were students that connected deeply with the fact that they were dead and God used this sermon to raise them to life.  Benson’s sermon really was the highlight of the retreat for many. I’m unbelievably thankful for Benson and his heart for ministry and these students.

Matt Virgin led out on the large group game that we played at retreat. Matt has been an indispensable part of this ministry for several years, but these past couple years he has really led out in so many areas. The games he comes up with, the videos he creates, and the way he connects with the students are all just incredible. God uses Matt constantly to teach truth and encourage our students weekly, but then he steps into these large projects and just does an outstanding job with everything. 

Morgan Scott did everything...as usual. She helps with every project we ever do. From videos to games to helping with administrative things behind the scenes. She is an incredible servant. But what makes her irreplaceable is the depth of relationship she has formed with all the students. She cares for and prays for these students constantly and God is constantly using her to encourage and build up our students. I can’t explain how thankful I am for her.

Kristin Anderson has loved and poured her life into these students for years now. On top of school and work, she diligently pours into and loves these students. God used her extremely powerfully during this event to walk with students through some very difficult conversations, and she is able to have these deep conversations because of her deep love and wisdom. I’m so thankful for her ministry here.

A huge thank you to April Sharp and Paul Hollis for stepping in to help chaperone and have just a great time with students. I know everyone knows how incredible these two are, but I love how they grab every opportunity to talk about the Lord and encourage students to trust Him more...even if that opportunity is just sitting around the cabin at night. Thank you so much for being apart of this. 

Tori Densley has been helping out for just a short period of time, but she has jumped in with both feet. She has an incredible eye for videos and helped a tremendous amount with the video. But what was awesome to me was how she is already having great conversations with the students about the Lord and what honoring Him looks like. I can’t wait to see how God uses her into the future.

A huge thank you to everyone who donated funds to help students attend this event. We literally could not have done this without you. Your generosity is what allowed so many students to come hear the Word of God and enjoy Him. 

I’m overwhelmed with thankfulness and love for this church, these volunteers, and our absolutely amazing students. We definitely have the best youth group around :)

With deep love,


March Pastor's Points

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Dear Church Family,

First, I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has made UPWARD such a huge success this year.  There are about 80 volunteers every week that make this ministry possible and I am so
thankful for each and every one of them.  I need to say a special thank you to
Jacob Townsend and April Sharp for making it all possible.  Their leadership is what allowed all of the 80 volunteers to come together and make an eternal impact on the lives of the families that we ministered to.  Thank you for all of your dedication and sacrifice!

Also, as we begin the month of March, I want you to be thinking about those that you can reach out to during the upcoming Easter season.  This is one of the times of the year that people are very open and receptive to a personal invitation to come to church.  Ed Stetzer shares in one of his articles the power of a personal invitation:

“Whatever happened to the strategy of simply inviting a friend, co-worker, or neighbor to church? According to our research, an invitation to church is still an effective way to reach the lost.

A few years ago 
LifeWay Research conducted a survey of 15,000 adults for the North American Mission Board to try to determine which of 13 approaches is the best-received when a church wants to be heard. The research showed us that best-received means of seeing new people walk into one's church is, well, a personal invitation.

  • 67% of Americans say a personal invitation from a family member would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church.
  • 63% of Americans say a personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church.
  • 63% of Americans are very or somewhat willing to receive information about a local congregation or faith community from a
    family member.
  • 56% of Americans are very or somewhat willing to receive information about a local congregation or faith community from a friend     or neighbor.

So, people ARE open to an invite from church, particularly if it is from someone they know. But one simple invitation isn't necessarily going to result in subsequent attendance. Neighbors may come because of an invitation, but they'll stay for the community.”

Community is the last thing I would like to touch on this month.  We have been blessed with numerous people visiting our church!  Many are returning guests and we need to assimilate them into a small group so true community can happen.  Please make an extra effort to reach out to those that you may not know and invite them to your 2:42 group.  Ask their name, introduce yourself and help them to feel a part of what God is up to at Oakhill!!  God is moving and preparing us for what He has for us in the near future!!  I am so excited to be a part of what He is doing!!!!

I love you and I love being your pastor

Pastor Alan

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