By Laura Ann Brown Tipps/Staff Correspondent
Southside resident and international outreach pastor Acton Bowen recently kicked off a summer of ministry with a trip to AtlantaFest, the country’s largest and longest-running Christian music festival.
Bowen said it was a humbling experience to minister along side artists and speakers such as Kari Jobe, Switchfoot and Scott Dawson.
“Just before I took the stage, I had a flashback of my first visit to AtlantaFest almost 15 years ago…sitting there, dreaming of taking the stage,” he said.
At that time, Bowen had just graduated from Coosa Christian High School and was working in his dad’s business while taking seminary classes and beginning ministry work.
Bowen served at Cross-Point Community Church in Gadsden from 2003 to 2010, which he describes as some of the best years of his life.
“Many of the people from CrossPoint continue to be part of my ministry by getting involved with the board, through financial contributions and by praying with me and supporting me.”
In 2010, Bowen made a difficult choice to move to a different home church where he could follow the calling to travel, preaching the gospel all over the country and the world. He currently is on staff at Christ City Church in Birmingham, which has a congregation of about 300 people.
Christ City Church lead pastor David Nasser had a vision for the church, which Bowen said has come to fruition.
“It’s a place where you can look around and see people of all socioeconomic statuses, races, and ages among both the staff and the congregation.”
Many of the staff members at Christ City Church also travel for speaking engagements and conferences, making it a nurturing environment for the Acton Bowen Outreach.
“Sadly, today, a lot of Christian authors and speakers work alongside local churches while not belonging to one themselves,” said Nasser. “This is not the case with Acton; if he is home, he is at church.”
“It’s an incredible thing to roll up your sleeves and get involved locally,” said Bowen.
In addition to his active participation in local ministry, Bowen was welcomed into churches, schools, conferences, and festivals in 37 states and three countries last year alone and speaks to approximately 250,000 people every year.
Some of Bowen’s most notable accomplishments include serving as a chaplain at the 2012 London Olympics, giving spiritual guidance to young Hollywood stars and becoming a New York Times bestseller.
Of his time at the Olympics, Bowen said that the testimony of Carl Lewis, one of the most decorated Olympians in history, was invaluable in reaching people from all over the world.
“A lot of people were saved, and I never would have had the opportunity to visit the over 100 countries represented there otherwise,” said Bowen.
Bowen will serve as a chaplain at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
In Hollywood, Bowen has worked with Mighty Med actor Devan Leos and Talladega Nights Luke Bigham. He has been a fixture behind the scenes of many Walt Disney movie sets, advising young people amid the spiritual turmoil Hollywood can breed.
As an author, Bowen achieved New York Times bestseller status with his first book, Escape the Noise.
Last month, Bowen released his new book, Moment, a 21-day devotional for students.
“Moment is about the power of surrendering every moment to Christ,” he said.
In the first 10 days, readers learn about people in scripture who experienced moments that changed history.
The remainder of the book walks the reader through real-life applications of using every moment to its fullest potential for the glory of God. Moment is on track to achieve the same success as Escape the Noise.
This summer, Bowen will speak at about eight camps, seven churches, several conferences and another festival or two.
Having worked toward an outreach ministry for years, Bowen said he feels incredibly blessed to be called by God to do this work and to do it so successfully.
As he said of his youthful dream to take the AtlantaFest stage, “I’m so thankful God made it a reality.”