MADISONVILLE, Ky. (1/4/2013)—Partnering with Pritchett’s Chapel in Hanson, Ky., Xtreme Fire Ministries has announced its third concert event, Feeding the Fire, kicking-off on the evening of Jan. 19, 2013.
Rev. Antony Bogdon, Xtreme Fire’s founder and CEO, spoke with SurfKY News concerning details of the show, and to understand how special the event is to him, one must first understand his journey.
The nondenominational evangelical ministry was birthed by Antony two years ago, but it had been a dream of his since 1999. The 30-year-old was born in Muhlenberg County, grew up in Lyon County, and now lives in Madisonville.
Antony said he became a preacher when he was 17 and went on to attend Mid-Continent College (now Mid-Continent University), a Baptist institution in Mayfield, Ky. Unhappy with the politics of his church, he broke away and struck out on his own after just a year and a half. “I was doing the sermons, but I just didn’t feel right about it. There wasn’t a peace inside of me.”
Antony met Brad Henson, Pastor of Four Rivers Covenant Church in Paducah, and he became Antony’s mentor, discipling him in ministry. The unconventional Henson had a way about him that was in stark contrast to what Antony was used to. “He’s very unorthodox,” Antony said. “He wears jeans and a tee shirt or polo to church and he preaches.”
He went on to explain that it was Henson who taught him to nurture and embrace his calling to be a preacher, a calling he felt but rejected at first. “I went to battle with God,” Antony remembered. “Somewhere over the course of being discipled by Brad, it turned from being something I did because I had to, to something I did because I had the love and a passion for it. I learned that there is a different way to do church—to do ministries.”
He spent the next 12 years trying to get a ministry off the ground.
Fast-forward to 2011 … Antony moved to Madisonville after living in Chicago for a year and a half. Encouraged by his wife Brooke, he made the final push to make Xtreme Fire a reality. “I told her that it would be the last try: ‘After this, if it doesn’t happen, I’m done.’ I kind of gave God an ultimatum.”
The effort initially included a batch of business cards and flyers. Antony credited Gary Gates of SurfKY News’ graphics department for helping him transform his vision into something tangible. The ministry website came next. Shortly thereafter, Antony said, locals began contacting him with inquiries, and the organization has grown significantly throughout 2012.
Xtreme Fire seeks to provide an outlet to people of Christian faith who wish to experience religion in their everyday lives, and Antony said that can be through music, worship experiences, online involvement, or just a place for them to go and hang out. They evangelize through internet networking and, of course, concerts, but he would like for the organization to occupy a physical structure where youth programs may be developed.
Drawing from his own childhood experiences, he said he relates to kids and young college students as well, who have “not anything to do and nowhere to go. I grew up in the churches so I know how a lot of them work. If you want to be a part of their youth program, you have to fit a certain guideline. That leaves a lot of young people and even young adults out there with nowhere to go.”
Their goal is to reach out to people who have been turned away from church and who have been left behind. “It doesn’t matter what they’ve done in the past. It doesn’t matter what kind of lifestyle they are living right now. God loves them, Jesus died for them, and there’s nothing they can do that can keep them from finding God’s forgiveness and the grace that Christ offers.”
This open-arms approach to ministry is something that he believes distinguishes Xtreme Fire from some churches, which Antony said place “stipulations” on membership.
An ordained reverend, he said that his methods are frowned-upon by some churches, which criticize the way he looks and the types of music he listens to.
He plans to establish weekly worship experiences, which will be held between church hours in order to eliminate the conflict of a choice between church services and ministry events. “Our goal is not to steal people from their churches. I’m not called to be a pastor. I am strictly an evangelist.”
The ministry’s first concert in 2011, Igniting the Fire, was a test run “just to see if we could pull it off. At the time, it was just me and my wife in the ministry. That was it. It was proving myself—to me and to everyone who kept saying, you know, you can’t do this sort of thing.”
On the day of Igniting the Fire, after a bout of rain and thoughts of rescheduling, the clouds dispersed seemingly from divine intervention, revealing clear skies perfect for the concert. Antony said that, over the next few days, people began calling to be a part of the ministry and that “over the next year, it went from being just me and my wife to having a full staff of officers, a full Board of Directors, the website is up—we’ve now been seen in 63 countries and 47 states. It’s gone all over the world, and our YouTube page is doing really well too.”
Last year’s encore concert, Reigniting the Fire, was a success as well, and he recalled being approached by Pastor Bob Rich of Pritchett’s Chapel, who expressed interest in holding a similar event at his church. Antony soon learned that it was more than just a curious, passing interest, as Rich contacted him the next day, setting the gears in motion for the upcoming third Xtreme Ministries concert event, Feeding the Fire.
“Within a week, everything was set up,” Antony said. “The bands were ready, the flyers were designed … we’ve had a month of not having to do anything but promotion.”
Pritchett’s is backing the effort with a venue for the show as well as financial support for promotional efforts such as flyers and advertising. “They have been amazing,” Antony said. Madisonville Disposal donated a flatbed trailer for the stage.
The free concert will feature Pillar of Fire, a Christian metal band that has been working with Xtreme Fire since the first show. Two more acts will be on-hand including The Alternative Christian band, Nailed Too, who performed at the most recent show, along with Paul Johnson, Christian Rap artist. The bands will have merchandise tables set up selling shirts, CDs, and other items.
Music will begin at 6 p.m. and continue until the bands are all finished, most likely around 10 p.m., Antony said that that he will preach between sets, and there will be a full alter-call.
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