By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
JONESBORO – Organizers of the North Central Baptist Association crusade are citing focused prayer gatherings as a key factor for nearly 60 people making spiritual decisions.
Held April 30-May 3 at Jonesboro-Hodge High School and Winnfield Middle School, the Real Hope Crusade drew around 700 people each night. By the end of the four-day revival, 25 people made a first-time public profession of faith in Jesus, another 35 recommitted their lives to Christ and two others surrendered to ministry.
Leading up to the crusade, churches in the association participated in eight prayer rallies that totaled a combined attendance of around 1,000 at various locations in Jackson and Winn parishes. Many of the association’s 54 churches took part in one of the prayer gatherings that were held from the summer of 2016 until just before the crusade began.
Director of missions Marty Black said prayer was a solid foundation for a mighty movement of the God throughout the four-day crusade.
“What I have seen these past few months is churches willing to come together to pray,” Black said. “Just watching their desire to do so and then to see barriers come down and spiritual decisions made during those prayer rallies made me so excited about the crusade and how God could move in our churches.”
The revival is one of several Harvest events planned in 2017. Harvest officially launched Louisiana Baptists’ campaign to “pray for every home and share Christ with every person” in Louisiana.
Harvest events that have taken place this year include Student Night Jan. 24 at the Louisiana Baptists Evangelism Conference at Temple Baptist Church in Ruston and a Hope, Love and Freedom crusade April 3-5 at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.
Bill Britt, an evangelist and native of Haughton, preached each night and ODE, a Christian band from Quitman Baptist Church, led the music. Britt’s messages included exploration of how religion hinders someone from knowing Jesus, how God can melt a hard heart and the power of the cross.
Even before he preached his first message of the crusade, Britt said he could feel a mighty movement of the Holy Spirit inside the gymnasium at Jonesboro-Hodge High School.
“Because of their intentional prayer before the crusade, people came expecting God to move,” Britt said. “A big percentage of success of a crusade is preparation before the crusade even happens, and prayer is a major factor in that preparation.”
Like other crusades where God moved mightily, Britt believes prayer and fasting preceding the event makes a difference such as the revival he preached at Crockett Point Baptist Church in Crowville in 2015. There, a revival which was originally scheduled for four days was extended three times and lasted for two weeks.
“What happened at Crockett Point, at this week’s crusade or at any other location where we saw God move, there have been prayer meetings and a time of fasting preceding it,” Britt said. “When a pastor tells me his church has fasted and prayed before a crusade, I get excited. I know God is about to do something really special.”
Now the crusade has ended, organizers are following up with those who made decisions. Black believes seeds were sown and more decisions will follow in the months ahead.
“Moving forward we will see an impact on our communities,” Black said. “From seeing how we can come together to pray for a crusade, the community hopefully saw the love our churches share for one another and for our community. They also saw how everyone worked so well together. This effort has laid the ground work for the movement to continue.”
Donald Rudd, pastor of Quitman Baptist Church, expects God to use the crusade to impact the community for many months to come. He also praised Black and area churches for pulling off an event of this magnitude.
“It was (Black’s) vision and leadership, but it was the cooperative effort of all the churches to come along side and embrace all God was and is doing in our area,” Rudd said. “The months of prayer for Bill Britt, ODE, the church and those lost and wandering souls have made the difference. Praise God for His mighty power. We will see more fruit come from this crusade.”