By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA (LBM) – Organizers of recent evangelistic outreaches throughout the state may have used different approaches to share the Gospel but have achieved similar results – scores of the lost making decisions for Christ.
The Rescue Family Revival took place Nov. 10-12 at Marksville High School, marking one of the largest evangelistic outreach efforts for Louisiana Baptists in Avoyelles Parish.
In the end, this harvest yielded 42 decisions for Christ.
Prior to the revival, volunteers from Life Point Community Church, Mansura, and Philadelphia Baptist Church, Deville, held block parties in Bunkie, Cottonport, Mansura, Marksville and Simmesport featuring games, food, a basketball tournament and a classic car show – with invitations to attend a worship service at Marksville High School featuring drama and music by the Philadelphia Baptist youth group and a powerful Gospel message from evangelist Ken Freeman.
Freeman focused his messages on rescuing the perishing.
“We want to be a part of your rescue,” Freeman said. “In life today the only thing that’s going to save you is Jesus Christ.”
Freeman shared about his own experience with God’s saving grace that was punctuated by an absentee father, alcoholic mother and a life that was out of control.
He said his encounter with Christ only happened because he accepted a friend’s invitation to church 50 years ago – as a means to meet girls. But Jesus used his selfish motive to transform his heart, and Freeman said his life has never been the same.
For more than 30 years, Freeman has shared the Gospel at more than 3,000 churches and witnessed more than 200,000 individuals make decisions for Jesus – including 134 who responded to the Holy Spirit during a revival he conducted last October at Tioga High School, and, 16 who accepted Jesus at a Wednesday night service, Jan. 18, at Philadelphia Baptist.
Leading up to the Avoyelles Parish revival, Freeman spoke in area schools to support their character development programs.
Prayer and fasting were essential elements of the harvest, Life Point Pastor Jacob Crawford told the Baptist Message. His congregation held multiple focused prayer gatherings and distributed 100,000 fliers advertising the event.
“Jesus rescued so many people this weekend,” Crawford said. “I cannot express how appreciative we are to Philadelphia Baptist Church and Youth Pastor Stuart Sasser. Their sacrificial love and service are an inspiration to our church and the entire state convention. It was amazing to see Philadelphia’s students leading other students to Christ. They could have volunteered their time to go anywhere in the United States or world to do what they did, but they came to Avoyelles Parish. God blessed their faithfulness.”
Among the Gospel conversations Crawford led, a block party encounter with a teenager named Jeremy was particularly memorable. The young man declined Crawford’s invitation to attend the block party, but went to the Nov. 10 block party at Bunkie anyway – a change of mind that led to his change of heart.
“I started talking with him and simply asked him, ‘If you died today, where would you go?’ Without any hesitation he said, ‘I would go to hell’ and he began to weep,” Crawford said. “I shared the Gospel with him and told him that God loves him and sent his son Jesus to die for him.
“Rather than lead him in a salvation prayer, I told him I would start praying and then I wanted him to tell Jesus what was on his heart,” he continued. “He began weeping harder and cried out to Jesus to save him. He prayed and asked Jesus to keep him in His hands and don’t let him go. This was a snot-slinging, tear-pouring prayer. Jeremy was born again.”
For the second year, organizers held a community wide tent revival in Pitkin; and, for the second year, the Holy Spirit moved miraculously.
Each night during the Oct. 29-31 revival led by Westport Friendship Baptist Church, Pitkin, crowds averaged nearly 450.
During the first night, a crowd flooded the front, including two who gave their lives to Christ and many others who came forward seeking revival in their own hearts.
“Seeing the folks come to the altar was just so special each night,” said Braden Martin, who resigned as pastor of Westport Friendship Baptist Church shortly after the completion of the revival, in response to a call to lead Verda Baptist Church. “First because its worship – a moment when we can outwardly express our commitment to God, publicly proclaim the message of Christ and reverently follow the Spirit’s prompting.
“But I also loved seeing the folks come down each night to the altar because people were moved, saints and sinners alike,” he said. “We desperately need our hearts to change, not more rules and regulations of religion. Only the Spirit of God, only the grace of the Gospel of Jesus can truly change a heart.”
Philadelphia Baptist Church, Horseshoe Drive, hosted MegaForce Ministries founder Steve Carrier for its Halloween outreach, where 74 people made decisions for Christ.
Carrier gave motivational speeches during the day at area schools, and shared the Gospel at a Trunk or Treat outreach on the parking lot of church campus, and also led a worship service for the congregation the following night.
At the Horseshoe Drive events, Carrier intertwined feats of strength with invitations to the crowd to repent of their sins and come to Christ.
“There are a lot of names in these phone books, but it doesn’t matter if your name is in a phone book,” Carrier told the crowd of about 250 people, Oct. 31, moments before he tore apart the thick binding of pages with relative ease. “What matters is if your name is in the Book of Life.”
Leading up to the event, members blitzed neighborhoods for two weeks to get the word out. One member even visited an area shopping center, placing 500 fliers under windshields.
Clay Fuqua, campus pastor at the Horseshoe Drive location, said Carrier connected with the students and others during his time at the schools and the church.
“The people that moved towards the stage during our Trunk or Treat event had many needs such as salvation, recommitments and prayer,” Fuqua said. “We are still connecting with those decisions. Several schools didn’t have the money for the assemblies and our people stepped up and funded the event. One principal was so blessed by the gesture and broke down in tears and shared that the school could never offer something like this for their students. Many times, it’s us that get the blessing when we are trying to bless others. It is a memory I will cherish for years in my ministry.”
CORNERSTONE CONGREGATION REVIVED
When Cornerstone Baptist Church, Oakdale, set a date for a tent revival, the members hoped for a vast harvest of souls in the community, but experienced a mighty movement of God within the congregation, instead.
During the month prior to the revival, the congregation blitzed Oakdale, handing out fliers advertising the revival – causing six members to realize their lost conditions and to pray for forgiveness and salvation, vowing to live for Christ and declaring Him Lord and Savior.
During the revival, which was extended one day beyond its original timeframe of Nov. 5-10, no salvation decisions were recorded. However, a missions offering was doubled on the final night, from $3,600 to more than $7,200, thanks to an anonymous donor’s match. Three of its members also surrendered to calls to career missions.
“Before the revival, we wanted to see a lot of people get saved and revived,” Pastor Tony Robinson said. “God taught me that what we meant for Oakdale, He meant for us.”