By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
LAKE ARTHUR – The four-day revival may have ended in late November, but for the congregation of First Baptist Church in Lake Arthur a season of spiritual awakening has only just begun.
The revival drew around 175 each service, with 23 making first-time salvation decisions in all. Four people were baptized during the revival itself, with many more expected to do so before the end of the year.
It was the culmination of months of prayer by the congregation capped with 24 hours of continuous prayer by a sequence of members just prior to the revival.
“People let go of their pride and gave their lives to the Lord,” said Jered Thomas, pastor of First Baptist Lake Arthur. “We had fire beginning to burn in the hearts of our people.
“They are pressing on,” he continued. “Revival has just begun. It starts now, today, with each person. They are ready to continue on. We will continue to grow, invite and get those to come.”
Bill Britt, an evangelist and native of Haughton, preached each night and Broken Vessels of Deridder performed music.
“The biggest thing Bill Britt got across to those coming to the revival was gaining a relationship with the Lord,” he said. “From the beginning to the end, he pointed to salvation.”
Thomas has been at the church for just two years, but he said he learned this is the first revival the church has experienced in 10 years.
He believes this could be the catalyst to spiritually reenergize a congregation that has experienced its own recent setbacks: The pastor who preceded Thomas died in the parsonage; and, members’ homes were flooded in August.
Fortunately, the worship center and education space escaped the same high waters of the nearby Mermentau River.
“This church has been through a lot,” Thomas said. “The Lord gave me a vision when I got here and a hunger for that church and the people, their lives and their souls. The church wasn’t dead but they were in a dormant stage. It took some time to build some trust with them.
“They began to search and pray,” he said. “We began to pray.
“I began to share my heart with the church and what God could do,” he continued. “The church began to pray and hearts changed – desire grew for revival in each individual and for the community.”
There had been some signs of revival before the November crusade, seen in an increased emphasis on missions – from its Woman’s Missionary Union sewing dresses for overseas missionaries to delivering Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to needy families in the community.
Also, every Wednesday a bus picks up children from the area. They get to enjoy a meal and then participate in a time of discipleship that includes lessons about character development and memorization of Scripture. Two-thirds of the 95 who come do not have a church home.
Already, Thomas has seen fruit from the ministry effort.
During the recent revival, a woman accepted Christ after first attending a Wednesday evening service to hear her child sing a solo hymn.
“You could tell the Holy Spirit was moving in her life and stirring,” Thomas said. “She ran to the altar and gave her life to the Lord. And it may never have happened if we hadn’t reached her child first.
“That’s our prayer,” he continued. “Through our Wednesday night kids, if we can reach that kid, I promise down the road we will reach that family.”