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Rise Up!

November 30, 2014

By J. Blake Ragsdale

When Sedrick rose up from his wheelchair and stood, an inspired audience at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina rose to their feet.

It was a moment that drew shouts of praise from those attending Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) 25-minute presentation entitled Rise Up!.

The Rise Up! program was a part of the Convention’s evening session on Monday, November 10 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. It featured more than 200 staff members and residents from across the state including Sedrick and other special needs residents in BCH’s care.

“The evening was an unquenchable, prolonged time of praise,” said BCH president/ CEO Michael C. Blackwell who led the presentation. “God’s holy presence fell down upon the audience, our staff and our residents. It was magnificent.”

Dressed in colorful t-shirts and flanked by translucent, helium filled balloons, the BCH group lifted their voices in song that crescendoed into powerful testimonies.

Fifteen-year-old Tré was one of seven residents, both past and present, who spoke. Tré told of the consuming darkness he faced due to past abuse. That darkness drove him to try and end his life before coming to Cameron Boys Camp.

“At Camp, I didn’t turn to death,” Tré said to the silenced crowd. “I turned to God.”

Alumni Joe Knight, who lived at Mills Home in Thomasville from 1960-63, thanked NC Baptists for “rescuing” him and hundreds of children like him before imparting a personal word to Tré.

“Take the tools you’ve learned at Camp, pass them on and be a blessing to others,” Joe said placing his hand on the boy’s shoulder.

Audience members – 1,600 strong – clapped and cheered as children shared their decisions to follow Christ since coming to BCH. The care that twenty-eight-year-old Sedrick has received through the Developmental Disabilities Ministry (DDM) has transformed his life. Blackwell beamed as he explained how Sedrick, who lost the ability to walk because of childhood abuse, is now walking as much as 225 feet with assistance.

“After all you’ve been through,do you think you will rise up?” Blackwell asked Sedrick.

“One day, I’m going to be walking on streets of gold!” Sedrick said to the crowd. Moments later, as he and his fellow Stegall Home residents used sign language to perform the song “I Will Rise,” Sedrick stood with help from caregivers.

The North Carolina Baptist Aging Ministry (NCBAM) celebrated five years of ministry to aging adults with a special presentation during the morning general session on Tuesday, November 11. NCBAM director Sandy Gregory brought the crowd to their feet asking NC Baptists to give one another “high fives” in honor of the fifth anniversary.

“We could not have imagined just five years ago that we would be where we are today,” Gregory said. “With NC Baptists leading the way, we are confident the next five years will be greater.”

“These presentations are a taste of the goodness of God Almighty,” Blackwell said. “These are the undeniable results of what Baptists and friends are making possible.”

Click on the below image to view pictures.

Rise Up Photo Gallery