ZonaMen’s Conference explores #butGOD theme

By Zach Papuga | Sep 12, 2023

This year’s ZonaMen’s Conference was a powerful and life-changing event. The conference was attended by about 150 men from around the state and was held and hosted by Cross Church in Surprise on Aug. 26.

This one-day event featured Jeremy Freeman, an author, speaker and pastor of First Baptist Church Newcastle, Oklahoma. The theme was #butGOD, which is also the title of Freeman’s testimonial of God’s grace throughout the near-death experience of his teenage son, Caleb.

During the sessions, Jeremy and Caleb shared messages of suffering, miracles and God’s power to overcome grief and hardship. Ten years ago, Jeremy lost his 7-year-old son, Trey, to a long battle with cancer, and, just a few years later, he almost lost Caleb in a car accident. It was through Caleb’s miraculous recovery and journey of faith #butGod came about.

During the first session, the men spent some time in worship, led by Cross Church’s worship band, and then listened as Jeremy shared from Acts 27 and some of the verses that helped him and his family get through their darkest moments.

After a break, participants returned to a time of prayer led by Pastor Jackie Allen of Cross Church. Following another time of worship, session two was led by Jeremy and Caleb. They shared their testimonies of loss, pain, and miracles.

One of the highlights of the day was the humorous banter between Jeremy and Caleb. Their authentic dialogue on stage as they shared their stories helped to draw everyone deeper into their message.

As Jeremy closed the second session, he shared the story of his son, Trey, and how he asked to receive salvation through Jesus about a year before he passed away. Jeremy then shared a gospel invitation, and five men raise their hands indicating they had just accepted Jesus as Savior. One of the men later shared, “I’m so thankful Caleb came. God used him to help me give my life to Christ, something I’ve needed to do for 40 years.”

After session two, the men were spent some time in fellowship over a lunch provided by Babbo Italian. After lunch we the day concluded with one more short time of worship and then a Q&A time with Jeremy and Caleb. Again, their authentic relationship as father and son gave way to more meaningful conversations as the men asked questions.

If you would like to know more about #butGod and follow Caleb’s journey, you can go to butgodthebook.com for more information.

Zach Papuga is executive pastor at CalvaryPHX and leads the ZonaMen Team.

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