Local teens rally behind TruthQuest: California team

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Hundreds of teens gathered for a TruthQuest rally July 11 meant to be the last surge of encouragement before the 12 teens headed off to California the next morning for 1,200 miles of ministry.

TruthQuest: California is a joint ministry project involving Baptist Press, FamilyNet Television and the Broadman & Holman publishing arm of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. For 10 days, the students will write stories about and participate in cutting-edge ministry in California. Their stories will appear in Baptist Press and their adventures will be chronicled in a 13-episode television series to air on FamilyNet this fall.

Will Hall, vice president for news services for the SBC Executive Committee and executive editor of Baptist Press, opened the rally at First Baptist Church in Franklin, Tenn., with a challenge from Scripture. In Acts 8:29-31, he recounted, the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip how he can understand the Scripture unless someone guides him.

"The search for truth truly is timeless," he said, adding that just as the eunuch needed help in finding the truth, young people today need help from committed Christians such as the TruthQuesters in finding the same truth of Jesus Christ.

The 12 teens were introduced, and some answered questions about why they are eager to embark on the TruthQuest adventure.

Richard Sparkman commented on the difference between the TruthQuest reality show and MTV's "Road Rules."

"Road Rules is all about sex and drugs and alcohol, but that's not reality for most teenagers," Sparkman, a member of the host church, said. "We're going to have a Christian theme in our show. It's going to be exactly like Road Rules except no sex, no drugs and no violence and stuff like that, and no eating worms."

Sarah Brown of Youngstown, Ohio, admitted that the TruthQuesters are not "super-spiritual," as some might think. "We do have Christ in our hearts, but there can be times when there's a little bit of conflict," she said. "For the most part we keep it real, and since Christ is a part of our lives he is obviously a part of this trip."

Jason Perry of the Christian pop band Plus One spoke to the teens and then sang.

"There are three things you're going to have to have in order to touch your generation or change any part of your culture," Perry said. "You're going to have to be relevant, relatable and real."

Jake, a rising Christian band, sang "Army of Love," the title cut from their latest CD, along with their hit song "Waiting."

Andy Botts, a member of the TruthQuest team from Cleveland, Tenn., sang a song called "One Desire," which he wrote specifically for TruthQuest. The song tells of his desire "to see lives being touched, hearts being changed and people's hopes and dreams completely rearranged" through the message TruthQuesters will present during their 10 days of ministry.

Teens then heard a message about the magnificence of God from Steve Keels, editor of the TruthQuest Student Bible. He spoke of his desire to see teenagers walk in the depths of God, to go beyond a surface Bible study and claim God for who he says he is.

"I believe God is not in the business of only sharing the gospel. I believe God is in the business of changing your life and revealing your life to people that don't know Christ," said Keels, pastor of student ministries at Good Shepherd Community Church, Boring, Ore.

Satan is dependent on the existence of God, but the power of our Father is dependent on no one, Keel said, exhorting the teens to see God fully in their lives and to boast of their Dad based on his magnificence as recorded in Scripture.

Teens at the rally were excited about the TruthQuest team and what they are going to do through their ministry trip.

"I think it will be a lot of fun and they will have awesome opportunities to minister to all kinds of people," said Katie Wright, 14, of First Baptist Franklin. "I'd be a TruthQuester if I had the chance."

After the rally, Perry had more to say about the TruthQuest team.

"I think it's exciting to see 12 young people who are excited about God, who are excited about testifying to his love and goodness to a generation that is at a distance from God," he said. "We are ultimately on a quest to find the truth -- and to know that these young people are going out there to minister to young people who are looking for answers is very exciting."

The team also includes Katie Royals of Jackson, Miss.; Freeman Field of New York City; David Hicks and Cara Yates of Cleveland, Tenn.; Josh Merritt of Dacula, Ga.; Chip Luter of New Orleans; Tim Harms of Franklin, Tenn.; Janie Jo Allen of Denver; and Shanna Hawkins of Winston-Salem, N.C.

Another rally was held Sunday night, July 7, at First Baptist Church in Cleveland, Tenn.


(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: JASON'S SUPPORT, FREEMAN'S FAITH and TQ TEAM MEMBERS.

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