The 1st Building Youth is Better Than Mending Men Boys Conference on Abaco was hosted by the Falcons Boys Club out of Grand Bahama under the direction of Pastor Darrin Rolle. The conference, which will be held annually, took place at Patrick J. Bethel High (PJBH) School on March 3.
Pastor Rolle acknowledged all in attendance as he recognized those who had travelled along with him as well as special guests seated in the audience.
Among his specially invited guests were Patrick Bethel, special honouree; Pastor Rick Schuessler, guest speaker, from Champs Missions in Orlando, Fla.; BTC Representative Mitch Fils-Aime; Abaco Groceries Representative Tim Roberts Jr.; Ricardo Ferguson, PJBH principal; Vincent Coakley, PJBH senior master; Jerome Hill; George Martin Jr.; and James Martin Jr. Edney Anderson, CEO of Pineyard Technical Center & Pineyard Steel, and Lloyd Rolle also accompanied the group from Grand Bahama.
Pastor Rolle introduced himself along with Ashton Atkinson as Masters of Ceremonies for the occasion. Atkinson then called on Pastor Deion Gibson to lead in the opening prayer, and Philip Wedderburn, vice president of the Falcons Boys Club, to give the welcome address.
BTC prizes of phone cards and special presentations were made to audience members particularly the young men. Several teachers and Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Rangers also received prizes.
During his Director’s report, Pastor Rolle told how the Falcons Boys Club was founded 21 years ago as a way to mentor boys through the sport of basketball free of charge. Since that time, more than 2,600 lives have been impacted for the better.
He emphasized that there are a lot of boys doing positive things, and that it is important to teach them social responsibility so that they will become productive citizens.
“Today, as we celebrate this event for young men, we hope that this event will encourage all young men of this school to remember that the most important decision they can and will make is their personal relationship with the Lord,” he affirmed.
He was proud to talk about the close relationship he enjoys with his 20-year-old son, who lives in his own home, yet still calls or messages him to ask permission to do certain things or just to check in.
On to more presentations, a special roundtrip giveaway onboard SkyBahamas Airlines Ltd. was given to Deputy Head Boy Dremiko McIntosh for him to fly wherever the airline offers service. Next, a special prayer was offered up for the young men in their midst.
Soon Pastor Rick Schuessler was introduced to the attendees.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” was his first profound statement.
He shared the biblical story of Ruth and Naomi based on the conference’s scriptural text taken from Ruth 2:4-8. Pastor Schuessler focused on the point that God oftentimes gives us second chances.
In 1970, he was given a second chance. In fact, he calculated that he has had a total of four near-death experiences in his lifetime.
One experience, in particular, was when he was 15 years old and went on a camping trip with his Boy’s Scout troop. While he and the other scouts slept, their cabin caught on fire. Although he woke in time to escape the fire, he had to return to the cabin to rescue another scout. Pastor Schuessler received burns all about his body, and his head had swollen to three times its normal size. When his parents came to the hospital to see him, they could not recognize him because he was completely covered in bandages.
“I was almost dead, but I thank God for my parents,” he extolled. “I was supposed to be in ICU for three weeks. My parents prayed, and I was there for only three days.”
His healing process was excruciating with each treatment making him feel like his body “was being burned in the fire all over again.” Pastor Schuessler said he was so badly burned that he had only ligaments and tendons and no skin.
He lost all mobility and had to learn to walk again. He endured countless surgeries, and for three months his parents would drive 70 miles to see him every day.
“God gave me a second chance just like Naomi. The Bible says that Hell is a place of fire, and I have been in the fire.”
He extended a special invitation to all of the youth to accept Jesus as Lord of their lives. Almost every child in the audience accepted the invitation and came forward for prayers. Pastor Schuessler presented copies of his book “Trial by Fire” to Coakley, Pastor Gibson and Roberts.
Next, there was a plaque presentation made to Patrick Bethel. In his response, Bethel applauded the organizers of the event explaining that he had been touched by the day’s events. Bethel shared how he, too, had given his life to God as a young boy, and told the youth that just because they are young doesn’t mean they cannot be a good Christian.
Before taking his seat, Bethel offered a small monetary donation to assist Pastor Rolle with his work in positively impacting the lives of young men all around the nation.
Another presentation was made by Principal Ricardo Ferguson, who called Ivan “KC” Curry, head boy, to receive a phone donated by BTC.
A noteworthy partnership was that of Abaco Groceries whereas the management team agreed to offer summer employment to four male students attending the conference who have not made plans to attend college. There was also a presentation made to the Rotary Club of Abaco, which was received by Desmond Bootle.
Recognition of all sponsors and partners were announced by Pastor Rolle, and several more presentations were made before the conference drew to a close.
Following the Vote of Thanks and benediction, lunch was served by Rotary Club of Abaco representatives: Bradley Albury, Desmond Bootle and Rev. Charles Carey. The participants enjoyed deliciously prepared grilled hot dog and hamburger sandwiches and assorted beverages.
Throughout the conference, entertainment was provided by Miguel Major aka DJ Mugglin’, CEO of City Beat Entertainment.