By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
COUSHATTA – Before she attended a Red River Association Crusade in late May, Molly Pickett admits her life was filled with anger toward God.
But hearing a Gospel message by evangelist Sam Moore during one of seven evening services of the crusade changed Pickett, and also transformed two of her children.
All three of the new believers were baptized at Martin Baptist Church in Coushatta, Sunday, June 4.
“I was anxious at first but I decided to give my life to Christ,” said Pickett, whose husband encouraged her to attend. “I was so tired of living with the anger and anxiety, and I was not only surprised that my children accepted Jesus as their Savior that night, but also relieved. Now, I am feeling a sense of calm in all areas of my life.”
Pickett and her children were among 19 people who professed Christ as Lord and committed their lives to Him, and were obedient in believer’s baptism at Martin Baptist Church and other churches in the area as a result of the Red River Association Crusade.
Richard Kaufman, pastor of Martin Baptist Church, was one of the organizers of the crusade. Preparation included a prayer walk at the Red River Parish Fairgrounds and counselor training at Social Springs Baptist Church in Ringgold, he said.
“We were thinking before the crusade started, if we could get just one, it would be all worth it,” Kaufman said. “But the Lord saw fit to bring in 19 to His Kingdom. He did a lot more than I thought would happen.”
Between 90 and 130 people turned out each night for the crusade, May 21-27.
Social Springs Baptist Church, First Baptist Church in Coushatta and the Red River Parish Fairgrounds hosted different nights of the crusade, which featured messages by evangelist Sam Moore of Bentonville, Ark., testimonies by Northwestern State University head men’s basketball coach Mike McConathy, Louisiana Baptist Convention President Gevan Spinney and First Baptist Coushatta Pastor Nathan Davis and music by Donna Weaver of Tuscaloosa, Ala.
“Breakthrough night” was the Wednesday evening of the crusade, when 12 people came forward to publicly profess their faith in Jesus Christ,” Kaufman offered.
“I remember Sam would say to us that night that we are fixing to go to battle,” Kaufman said. “The counselors would spread out next the fence near where Sam was preaching and were prepared for a time of decision. One by one, we saw people come forward. To see a dozen people bowing their head at one time to pray to accept Jesus was very moving.”
Counselors collected contact information for those who came forward and those names, addresses, phone numbers and emails were passed along to area churches for follow up with each new believer.
“We encouraged each of them to make their decision public in the church of their choosing and then to follow through with baptism,” Kaufman said. “One of the key things is to hook them up with a church so they can get involved in ministry. We need one another, whether we admit it or not. The Christian walk is going to be a struggle. You want people encouraging them along the way.”
Although the crusade is over, the evangelistic outreach is not yet done.
Moore returned to Martin Baptist Church June 4 to conduct additional evangelism training. Around 30 people attended the session, receiving tips for witnessing effectively and learning Scripture verses to be used in sharing the Gospel. At the end of the day, participants wrote out their individual testimonies and practiced and sharing it with others there.
The hope is that even more people in the area will become passionate about sharing Christ, Kaufman said.
HARVEST OF SOULS
The crusade is one of several Harvest events that have taken place this year. Harvest officially launched Louisiana Baptists’ two-year campaign to “pray for every home and share Christ with every person” in Louisiana.
The majority of Harvest events will take place in 2018, but a few already have been completed this year, including:
— Student Night, Jan. 24, during the Louisiana Baptists Evangelism Conference, Temple Baptist Church, Ruston (dozens came forward for prayer: 34 persons made spiritual decisions – 10 repented for salvation, 13 repented to restore their fellowship with Christ, nine made other commitments, two declared a call to vocational ministry);
— a Hope, Love and Freedom spiritual renewal event for believers, April 3-5, at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond (200 attended the first night, building to more than 700 the final night); and,
— the Real Hope crusade, April 30-May 3, at Jonesboro-Hodge High School and Winnfield Middle School (700 attended each night of the four-day revival; 25 repented in making first-time public professions of faith in Jesus, 35 repented and recommitted their lives to Christ, two surrendered to career ministry).
“I was encouraged by the unity,” Kaufman said. “The spirit of cooperation is a powerful thing. Psalms say how pleasant is it for brothers to dwell in unity. There is strength in numbers. Numbers represent people. I was thankful for everyone that came out for this life-changing week.”