By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
LAFAYETTE – In a culture where many are searching for joy in the wrong places, the one source for true satisfaction is found in Jesus Christ, Eric Thomas reminded more than 400 pre-teens on Saturday, Aug. 27.
And in the quest to find that joy, surrounding one’s self with a circle of godly friends is vital.
“We turn up volume on that joy by being with friends who love Jesus,” Thomas said. “When we have friends who don’t love Jesus and we are trying to run toward joy, they hold us back. They are like a load that keeps us from experiencing that joy.
“We need to surround ourselves with a family of friends,” he added. “They can love you like Jesus has loved them.”
Speaking from 2 Corinthians 5:17, Thomas told the youngsters attending PreTeen Invasion while they can find happiness with friends or at school, those earthly things will not make someone be filled with true joy.
“All of us here are made to want joy,” he said. “We are made to want joy. Only Jesus can give you the joy you need.”
Thomas, pastor of First Baptist Church in Norfolk, Va., was the main speaker for PreTeen Invasion at First Baptist Church in Lafayette. The event also featured music by the worship team from Cypress Baptist Church in Benton and Louisiana College’s interactive games team.
Participants had the choice between two locations – Temple Baptist Church in Ruston on Aug. 20 or First Baptist Church in Lafayette on Aug. 27 – for this age group’s annual evangelism conference. Though the event took place at two separate locations on two separate dates, it offered the same games, interactive activities, worship and Gospel opportunities.
More than 500 attended PreTeen Invasion in Ruston and 400 more came to Lafayette.
David Anderson, children’s ministry strategist for Louisiana Baptists, said PreTeen Invasion has become the go-to event to celebrate going back to school.
“PreTeen Invasion has become the premier opportunity for churches with fourth to sixth graders to spend a day of fun and spiritual focus,” Anderson said. “Over the past years we have seen many children make first-time commitments and this year is no different.”
During the first event in Ruston, 57 children made some type of spiritual decision, including 29 who made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. During Saturday’s PreTeen Invasion in Lafayette, 28 children indicated a spiritual decision, 16 of who declared a first-time decision to follow Christ.
Fifth-grader Jenna Debusk was one of 21 who came to PreTeen Invasion from Cotile Baptist Church in Boyce. She took to heart Thomas’ message.
“The dancing and moving and clapping were all a lot of fun,” Debusk said. “I liked what he said about being around the right kind of friends. I would encourage anyone to come back here next year and learn about God and what He is trying to teach us.”