I’m Brandon Newton, and I am the Director of College Ministry at Mercy Hill Church. I grew up in the south, Charlotte, NC to be exact. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been deep within the “Christian bubble” my entire life. I grew up in a family with two strong Christian parents, always going to church, surrounded by people, whether in school or football/baseball teams, that would consider themselves Christians. To be honest, where I’m from that was “cool.”
Jesus on the Side
Easter was always a big deal. I remember, as a kid, I would get an “Easter outfit” from my grandparents. That continued for an embarrassing amount of years. We also had the normal Easter baskets and pictures with the Easter bunny. For as long as I remember, Easter Sunday was also a day when EVERYBODY came to church. It was the thing to do. It was an event. It was about dressing up, taking family pictures, going to a special lunch, and maybe culminating with an Easter egg hunt. Now, don’t get me wrong, there was talk of Jesus, but he seemed to get lost in the festivities of the day. At least he did for me.
When I was a junior in college, someone invited me to play in a flag football tournament. I was all about it. My time in college was admittedly more focused on intramural sports than academics. This tournament in particular changed my life—for eternity. I made friends there that shared the gospel with me; words I had heard before but never clicked that God sent his son Jesus to live the perfect life I could never live and die the death that I deserve. Then Jesus rose from the dead and walked out of the tomb three days later, defeating death, and defeating the sin that plagues each one of us. He did this because he loves us. He did this so that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
This truth freed me. Up to that point, I knew all the Christian words and could talk the talk, but I was still trying to earn my salvation by doing all of the right things. Of course, I continued to fail at that. So, hearing and believing that he already purchased my righteousness on the cross changed my life forever.
Jesus at the Center
Here in the Triad of NC there are thousands of people that have a story that looks nothing like mine, thousands that didn’t grow up in and around church. I pray that our church loves them, seeks them out, and invites them to hear the gospel for the first time this Easter. But there are also an overwhelming number of people in the Triad that do have a similar story as me. That’s one of the huge reasons Mercy Hill planted a church here in the south.
A simple invite led to a change in my eternity. My charge to our church is to take advantage of where we are. INVITE everyone you can because Easter is still a thing around here. INVITE, so that people may realize for the first time that Easter is THE thing. HE IS RISEN!
–Brandon Newton (Director of College Ministry)