By Carrie Brown McWhorter
The Alabama Baptist
More than 2,000 high school students, coaches, parents and church volunteers gathered at Corner High School Sept. 8, 2019, for At The 50, an evangelistic outreach of North Jefferson Baptist Association and area churches, where the gospel was shared and lives were changed.
“Ultimately we wanted people to have an encounter with God,” said Joey Hill, an organizer of At the 50 and pastor of Highpoint Community Church in Corner.
And that’s what happened. Music, magic and speakers wowed and motivated the crowd, but the call to follow Christ was issued throughout the evening and in the end, 110 decisions were made, including 63 salvations and 39 rededications.
“We had a feeling that this was going to be something special,” Hill said. “We have felt very confident that the wind of God was going to blow. We just wanted to make sure the sail was up so when it did we were ready to move.”
Last year’s At The 50 event was held at Mortimer Jordan High School in Kimberly, and 38 people committed their lives to Christ. This year more than 52 churches came together for the second year of the event, and the response was even better than last year.
Christian illusionist Bryan Drake and his Bryan Drake Show opened the night with his blend of biblical truth and illustrative illusions. Iron City Worship led in music. And Auburn head football coach Gene Chizik and evangelist Scott Dawson spoke about the importance of a life spent following Christ.
“I want to make this very clear to everybody here. It doesn’t matter what your age is, who you are or what you do,” Chizik said. “This moment was not by accident.”
There’s a difference between having a religion and a relationship, Dawson told the crowd.
“Relationship is when you can call Jesus your personal Lord,” he said. “It can happen tonight and it can happen to anyone.”
Organizers of At The 50 have been planning in earnest for weeks, said Steve Abney, evangelism team leader for North Jefferson Association and pastor of North Highlands Baptist Church, Warrior.
The goal of the event, he said using football terminology, is to get people past the halfway mark of their relationship with God and all the way to the end zone.
“The coin toss is at the 50. Trophies are presented at the 50. Everything stands around the 50 but if you only got to the 50, you really got nowhere,” Abney said. “If you only get to the 50 yard line, you’re only halfway there.”
With that in mind, the prayer of organizers of At The 50 is to get people out of the churches and into the world, “to reach people for Jesus Christ with the greatest message we could ever have and that’s the gospel.”
Volunteers utilized customized “Who’s Your One?” material from the North American Mission Board, including daily prayers and Scripture reading so volunteers could focus on the “one” they would bring to the event.
“We are thankful for our partnership with the evangelism office of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions and the North American Mission Board who have helped us with materials and funding,” said Steve Loggins, associational missionary for North Jefferson Baptist Association. “We utilized a modified version of the ‘Who’s Your One?’ emphasis currently being taught throughout the convention with a ‘Bring Your One’ promotion using prayer guides supplied by the North American Mission Board.”
Next year’s event is in the planning stage for Gardendale High School.