Whenever I hear these words, my heart gets happy. In this moment, to circle up means to come together, to pray and be grateful for all that God has done, to introduce new members and celebrate what is happening. “There’s something about this place”, I think to myself. The walls are plastered with scripture, the faces are full of smiles. There is a feeling in the air that I’m trying to put my finger on, something tangible, it strikes me deep within my soul; then it hits me. A heartbeat. One that is loud, strong, and full of life. One that will not falter, have an episode of arrest, or even a need for surgery. One that is fully immersed in Christ.
This is One7.
It all became clear when I was talking with a young man named Van. He is so full of life, love and happiness. Whenever I talk with him, there’s a spirit about him. One that is constantly looking to what’s ahead, pushing into God’s provision and stepping in a spiritual confidence. He encourages those around him to be bold and act in faith, serving as a true leader for the younger generation. He lives at the One7 apartments, he is all in on the vision of One7 and the people in it. He loves as Christ loves, relentlessly and fulfilling.
One7 is an organization in the heart of the west side of Charlotte. One that seeks to support and love on refugee families, kids, teens, and the communities of the inner city. Their main focus? People. The main outlet? Sports. The idea of Sports Ministry isn’t a stranger to me by any means. My father currently runs an organization that teaches churches how to reach out through sports, this idea runs through my veins.
I’ll never forget my experiences here, each time it’s different (in a good way). One7 kids surpass every expectation that I could ever have of a christ centered organization. The love, leadership, and life that the older teens lead is extremely empowering to my own heart. These older teens are bold in their faith, setting a great example for the littles ones for a life of trust in God, belief, and service. They have challenged me and my fellow interns to press forward in Christ, lean into him, and be confident that he will provide every need that I might encounter.
As my summer as an Elevation Outreach intern draws to a close, it only seemed right to have the end be at One7. We started the summer off visiting One7 and witnessing some incredible baptisms. Baptisms that served as a springboard to launch us into a life-changing summer. Now, we visit to invest in the next generation of the world. To love, lead, worship, and pour into the kids at this incredible organization.
I write, not to just plug One7, but to encourage. Hopefully, this serves as a reminder of how important it is to love those as Christ loved us. Christ said “Let the little children come to me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14. I don’t know if you can feel it or not, but there is a shift happening in the world right now. This generation is seeking to love and empower the unusual suspects. We want to see lives changed in radical ways, ways that can only be explained by a move of God. Investing in organizations like One7 is, in my opinion, the best way to see that happen.
Well, it’s simple. Get plugged in. The easiest way to miss out on what God is doing is to stand idly by and miss what is directly at your fingertips. I remember when I first started getting involved in the local church. It was terrifying. There were moments that I thought, “in such a large place, how can I feel connected?” All of that was completely undermined, in a good way, my first Sunday serving. I remember how welcoming people were, how encouraging and helpful everyone was. Take that, and imagine being able to use it to make a difference in someone’s life. Now, in this moment, I can’t imagine what my life would be like without taking the plunge to get involved.
This doesn’t just apply to those who attend Elevation. It applies to everyone. Whatever church you go to, we are designed to live in community just like Christ did among his disciples and his people. Don’t let whatever fear is hindering you have an impact anymore. Pastor Steven encourages us to dive into those fears head on, because at the end is still a God who is good and one who loves us. One who has our best interest in mind, and I will be the first to say that getting plugged in to your church is in your best interest.
It’s simple. Get involved. Make a difference.