By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
PINEVILLE – Brent Gambrell believes heroes of the Christian faith such as evangelist Billy Graham are fast becoming a rarity and that students could fill those shoes if they are willing to take a bold stand for Christ in their world.
“Where is the next Billy Graham going to come from, if not from this generation?” Gambrell told about 750 youngsters and adults during the recent PreTeen Invasion 3.5 at Louisiana College. “I won’t be the next Billy Graham but I hope someone in this room will be.”
Gambrell – an evangelist from Cleveland, Tenn., who regularly travels to Haiti for missions trips – challenged the students to put aside their reputation and spend time with those the world deems as the less desirable. When that happens, Gambrell said, the world takes notice and desires a relationship with Christ.
“Jesus is saying follow me now,” Gambrell said. “Don’t wait.”
Youth from 51 churches heard Gambrell’s message at PreTeen Invasion 3.5, a Cooperative Program-funded ministry of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Unlike previous years, this was the second PreTeen Invasion of 2013.
Based on feedback from churches, event organizers decided to move the event from its traditional day in January to August. LBC childhood education strategist David Anderson said if they had not scheduled another PreTeen Invasion then that would have meant an 18-month gap between both events. Instead, there is just 12 months between the PreTeen Invasions.
Next year PreTeen Invasions are scheduled for Aug. 16 at Temple Baptist in Ruston and Aug. 23 at First Baptist Lafayette.
The event for fourth- through sixth-graders in LC’s Guinn Auditorium featured games led by the Louisiana Baptist Convention childhood education staff and music by Broken Vessels of DeRidder. By the end of the day, 17 had accepted Christ as their personal Savior and Lord, 23 indicated a recommitment to Jesus and one person said they were called into the full-time Christian-related vocation ministry.
“That is why we do it – to see kids’ lives changed,” Anderson said. “Lost kids come to Christ and believing kids challenged in their walk.”
Gambrell encouraged all in attendance to do as Christ commanded in Matthew 4:18 – “come, follow me.”
He said the youth must choose to follow either God or the world.
“Live one way or the other but stop living on the fence,” Gambrell said. “There’s no time for that anymore.
“You have to decide who you are,” he continued. “If you decide now it will be so much easier by the time you’re in high school.”
Gambrell’s message was a highlight of the day for Alyson Wiggins, a sixth grader from Unity Baptist in Pineville.
“God has been speaking to me since I gave my life over to Him,” Wiggins said. “And He spoke to me again at PreTeen Invasion by bringing me closer to Him.”
Ben Day, a fifth grader from Florida Boulevard Baptist in Baton Rouge, said the entire day was exciting.
“It went by so fast, from bouncing the balloons in the game time to worshipping God,” Day said. “I can’t wait to come back next year.”