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Mena to Host 1st Annual BREATHE Youth Conference

BY MELANIE BUCK –

The first BREATHE two-day youth conference will be held in Polk County this weekend, with the hopes to ‘breathe life’ into today’s youth, to become tomorrow’s warriors for Jesus Christ. The idea was the brain child of a local girl who took an overseas mission trip and wanted to do more.

“I was in Trinidad on a mission’s trip. While I was away, I was able to watch the news, something I never really did at home, but I wanted to keep up while I was away, and realized the terror that was going on everywhere. While in Trinidad I was working with youth and I realized that things happen to youth all over the world. It was like my call from God saying ‘you have to do something about this.’ I can’t change the whole world, but I can do something in my small town,” explained Anna Buckley.

Emmye Rowell, best friend to Anna, is also a key figure in bringing the conference about. “It started out that we were going to do a back to school bash, but the bash never happened because God said, ‘that’s not big enough.’” Anna explained further, “I was sitting at church one night talking about doing an event and we hadn’t done a back to school bash for a while. I talked to our youth pastors about it and I went home and couldn’t get it out of my head. That’s when it changed to BREATHE. And so I went and talked to Jennifer McPherson about it and that’s how it began. That was eight months ago.”

In the eight months, the event has grown larger than the girls ever expected and now includes youth from around the region. One youth group that has pre-registered is coming from as far as Georgetown, Texas.

So why BREATHE? “I was listening to a song, ‘Come Alive’ by Lauren Daigel, and it’s the story of Ezekiel and how the bones come alive and that made it visible that this conference is to breathe life into the youth,” said Anna. “We want to breathe life into our dead generation,” Emmye said.

With the help of their friends, BREATHE Conference is coming to Iron Mountain this Friday and Saturday, June 2 & 3. They also have youth leaders, community, and more volunteers helping with the event – as many as 150 volunteers are needed each day to ensure success, safety, and that the word of God is spread to each budding youth. “ But our support is our church (The Crossing) and our parents,” smiled Emmye. “The Crossing and their leadership has been such a huge part of this. They have matched all of our fundraising dollars. And to the community who has been a part and helped – thank you! And also, Mika Harry has been a huge mentor. She has kept us on track.”

BREATHE Conference will be held at the CMA Iron Mountain Pavilion with registration beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday; conference begins at 6:30 and will last until around 9:30. Vanessa Martin will be the featured speaker that night, talking about The Love of God. BREATHE Worship, a band comprised of members of several churches from around the area, will perform during worship services. The Café will be open, making snacks and drinks available for sale throughout both days of the event.

Following Friday night’s conference, there will be an after party held at immediately following services. There will be a dance party with Yonny Flores (owner of 385 Events) DJ’ing the event.

On Saturday, the doors will open at 9:30 a.m. with the conference beginning at 10 a.m. Featured speaker will be Anna Buckley, speaking on the topic of Fearless Faith. BREATHE Worship will also lead worship.

Saturday will also include breakout sessions titled “Intenionally Designed” for more individualized teachings. Emma Mae Jenkins will speak in the girls’ session, while Nathaniel Martin and Taylor Schuller will speak in the boys’ breakout sessions.

Victor Rowell, pastor of The Crossing, will speak to the entire group at 2 p.m., focusing on Spiritual Gifts, and Arden Bevere will speak at 7 p.m. on Identity. Bevere is an evangelist from Colorado that travels the country and the world spreading the good news of Jesus.

Lunch will be provided for free on Saturday, which includes hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, water, lemonade, and cookies. The dinner break will be held from 4 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. They will offer an optional pizza dinner with ice cream, lemonade and water on site for $5 per person. Organizers need to know by Saturday morning if you plan on eating dinner.

One important facet of the conference – it’s free! Their focus age group is 6th – 12th grades. So far around 75 have pre-registered, but plans are being made to take on 400 youth.

Following the Saturday night dinner break, the doors will re-open at 6:30. There will be no after party that night, although they will offer a game lounge to keep youth busy during down times. T-Shirts for the event will be for sale for $15.

Anna said she hopes the youth take away a better understanding of who they are and how God can use them how they are. “What God has called them to do as individuals, and a generation.”

If you would like more information about the conference visit breatheconference.net. If you would like to volunteer for the event, there are many opportunities for you to serve, call or text Emmye at 479-216-4224.

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