UNITE reached new heights both figuratively and literally on October 17. Children, youth and their leaders filled Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) Mills Home campus in Thomasville for the third-year while stunt riders from Outcast BMX thrilled the approximately 1,000 guests as they acrobatically propelled their bikes up ramps and into the air.
UNITE is free to the public and focuses on spiritual growth, music and games for middle and high school youth. It is a fitting event for BCH since the nonprofit’s primary mission is serving children who come from difficult circumstances.
“Our organizational vision statement is ‘sharing hope…changing lives,’” says Tabitha Ward, BCH Director of Marketing and Public Relations who heads the event’s planning committee. “We are extending help to boys and girls every day who need hope rekindled in their lives. To be able to come together with other churches and volunteers to host UNITE and offer that hope to even more youth is exciting.”
It is this reason that brings churches like Southside Baptist in Thomasville back to help with the event for a third year.
“The church unity through the event is so powerful especially in a world that seems to lack unity,” says Jason Craver, Youth Minister and Worship Leader at Southside. “It’s special to see churches, not just from a community but statewide, come together to see teens grow in their faith and then take it into their communities.”
The committee organized a full day of activities including offering free hot dogs and homemade ice cream churned and served by former NC senator Jim Jacumin.
Another big draw was the 16-team Dodgeball Tournament that pitted youth group teams against one another to see who would emerge as the winner. The youth from Nebo Crossing Baptist Church in Nebo were the 2015 champions.
Outcast BMX featured some of the top pro and amateur BMX riders in the country. Outcast BMX riders have been featured on the Dew Action Sports Tour and have appeared on the cover of Ride BMX magazine. Also appearing was UNITE 2015 speaker and Christian hip-hop artist Curtis “CZ” Zackery who has shared his music and inspirational message to a variety of audiences worldwide.
“I’m always extremely excited about the opportunity to share the story of Jesus,” Zackery says. “This event provides a chance for us to point to hope and serve a community that has been through a lot.”
The message shared by Zackery and through every aspect of the day’s events resounded as children made professions of faith and others rededicated their lives to Christ.
Area churches and other community friends volunteered their time, and financial resources to keep UNITE free to the public. Sponsors included: Food Lion, Frito Lay, Pepsi, Revolution Decal, Smithfield Foods, and Utz Potato Chips.
“UNITE is the perfect name for this event because it is completely a team effort,” Ward says. “As a nonprofit, there is no way we could host this type of event without the generosity of our partners. They believe in the services BCH provides to community children and they believe in this event.”
UNITE is a day of youth evangelism, worship and a fun festival that invites middle and high school youth along with their friends to the Mills campus to experience the contagious love of Christ. Learn more about what took place at this year's event by going to www.standupunite.com We hope to see you next year!