Having been converted in Athens, Georgia a little over seventeen years ago, it was such a wonderfully surreal experience for me at this year’s ICMC East.
My feelings were heightened because some of my greatest spiritual moments have taken place in Athens. This is where I was converted. Where I learned to boldly share my faith, and where I decided to go into the full-time ministry. And, to top it all off, this is where I met and married my beautiful bride, Stacey. although I have not lived in Athens for over 13 years now, it's so encouraging to see that God is still using The Classic City to impact my life, and the lives of thousands of others!
Last year in Chicago, when the locations for both the ICMC East and ICMC
West were announced, Athens received polite applause, and the western
conference going to the mountains of Colorado elicited a roaring cheer.
And why not? Athens is a beautiful little city with a great university,
but the majestic mountains of Colorado are known throughout the world!
And hey, I know that the ICMC West is going to be amazing! Our brothers
and sisters in Denver have been working hard to bring a conference to
the students on the West Coast that will forever impact their lives and
inspire them to take their relationship with God higher! But I don't
think it would have mattered where this year’s ICMC East had been held –
the key to our success was the collaboration of the leadership team
that worked with such a unified spirit to plan this great event. And,
the leadership teams of the co-sponsoring congregations, And let me say
that in my estimation Athens Church of Christ and North River Church of
Christ put together one of the most spiritually inspiring Campus
Ministry Conferences we have ever had!
The ICMC East challenged us to take our relationship with God Deeper
and I truly believe it succeeded in doing just that.
The conference was kicked off with the Leadership Program Thursday, July
7th as Kevin Miller and Ed Anton gave us a Clearer Vision and inspired
us to Dig Deeper as brothers and sisters who aspire to lead in God's
Church. That evening, the main session prepared our hearts and set the
tone for the entire weekend with awe-inspiring singing and worship led
by Chase Mackintosh and Andrew Lombardi followed by a heart-moving
message delivered by Kevin Thompson entitled Deeper Love.
One of the highlights of the conference was the three-part Bible
Exposition on the book of Ephesians taught by Sam Laing. I have heard
Sam over the years teach the Bible, encouraging brothers and sisters to
go deeper in their study of the Word, but I have never heard him deliver
a lesson like this. His passion and delivery reminded me how amazing it
is to devour God's Word in such a way that enables us to not only
understand the lessons that God is trying to teach us through His Word,
but also how to correctly handle the Word of Truth as we present it to
In the classes that were taught on Friday afternoon, there was something
for everyone who wanted to grow Deeper in their character. From
Discipline to Purity, Courage to Wisdom, the brother's classes were
designed to help us dig down deep into our inner being and grow in our
character as men. An array of classes on women in the Bible were
presented to the sisters, highlighting characters like Mary Magdalene,
Abigail, Priscilla, Ruth and Naomi to inspire the sisters in their walk
as women of God. The Friday session closed out with Kevin Miller
preaching a grand slam home run on having "Deeper Convictions".
Saturday morning, over a thousand campus students came together on the
campus of the University of Georgia to take part in one of the largest
organized 5K runs Athens has ever hosted. The HOPE Worldwide Run For
Their Lives 5K Run. Students, campus ministers and many Athens community
runners ran together to raise money for three important causes: HOPE
Worldwide Africa, HOPE Worldwide Haiti and HOPE Worldwide Gulf Coast.
Saturday afternoon continued with great workshops and bonding
fellowship. There was also a campus ministry alumni program for brothers
and sisters who had previously been in campus ministry to come back
together to help current students who are close to graduating prepare
for life in the “real world.” Areas such as business and finance,
education, law, media & entertainment, medical, non-profit and
technology were highlighted. Dr. Kevin Broyles from Durham, North
Carolina was the keynote speaker for the Alumni General Session. After a
successful medical career, Kevin retired this year and He and his wife
will be moving this summer to Bolivia to help strengthen the church and
serve the many needs of that country.
The conference closed out on Sunday morning beginning with part three of
Sam Laing's exposition on Ephesians followed by a worship service for
the ages! The singing and worship of close to 2000 brothers and sisters
in the Classic Center Theater brought tears to my eyes. The Athens
Church, together with the ICMC participants, lifted their voices loudly
in worship as we were all reminded of how deep God's love for us truly
is!Troy Kriss of Gainesville, Florida shared as we took communion and then
Damien Jean-Baptiste from Barbados closed out with his sermon, Digging
Deeper, Building Higher.
Having been converted in campus ministry in Athens, Georgia over 17
years ago, and to be standing in the Classic Center where Stacey and I
had our wedding reception almost 15 years ago, it was all so surreal. Having over 1400 students and campus ministers from all over the East
Coast come together for the International Campus Ministry Conference
singing, worshiping, fellowshipping and digging Deeper into God's Word
has truly been the highlight of my year. The spirit of this conference
was unlike any I have ever been a part of. I truly believe that God is
reigniting the spiritual fire of Campus Ministry in our churches and
inspiring us to take our relationship with him and with one another