Crusade draws crowds of more than 10,000
by Emanuel County Live | April 27, 2005 12:00 am
Evangelist Rick Gage has been filling football stadiums for more than a decade in small towns across America. Many were skeptical that he could do it in Swainsboro, which claims a population of only 6,943.
By the conclusion of the Rick Gage Crusade, 878 spiritual decisions had been recorded, including 524 first-time professions of faith. More than 40 churches worked together in what pastors claim is the greatest sense of unity and spirit of cooperation of churches ever seen in Emanuel County. Churches came together across denominational lines with a united goal of loving and reaching people.
Crusade Chairman Russell Collins and Co-chairman Pastor Jamie Archer worked on crusade planning and preparation for over a year and enlisted more than 200 committee workers. “The crusade was absolutely the most wonderful move of God this county has ever experienced,” says Archer. “The mighty outpouring of God’s Spirit sparked a revival that will continue. God moved in power in countless lives, and the huge impact of this crusade has changed this county forever. We are already working diligently to follow-up on the many decisions that were made. Blun-dale Baptist will baptize more than 50 people in the days ahead.”
Milton Gray, Finance chairman for the crusade and member of First United Methodist Church, marvels at the provision of God. “The crusade far surpassed any of my expectations,” he said. “Our community is on fire for Christ now. Everywhere you go, people are talking about what God did and continues to do. God even worked in our budget. Although it was large, everything came together perfectly. Our financial response was almost identical to our budget. It was the best money we ever spent. A call for Christ was issued like we’ve never had before in this community, and God showed up and changed and transformed lives for all eternity.”
Miracle stories abound in Emanuel County. “God has visited our county in a miraculous way,” said Cail Pressey, pastor of Hawham-mock Baptist Church. “Relationships were healed; families were reunited; prominent citizens were led to faith in Christ by people broken with love for others; church members were saved; denominational and racial barriers came down. There is a different atmosphere in our community.”
Counseling chairman, Pastor Ray Jenkins of Oak Chapel, is enthusiastic about continuing what the crusade started. “My heart raced,” he says, “as I looked at those standing in line waiting for counselors, and there stood my grandson and his fiancé. What a personally elating time it was to lead them to faith in Christ. A couple I had been talking to and praying for for a year and a half got saved at the crusade. The miracle stories just go on and on, and we will see to it that they continue.”
Businessman Ken Warnock recounts the thrill of seeing so many come to Christ. “God answers prayer,” he said. “All our prayer vigil rallies and preparation were rewarded as God saved so many. How do you describe the tremendous impact of seeing a hardened, 78-year-old man, a 74 year-old woman or a 20-year-old who had just moved to the community come to Christ? As Christians, we have been renewed, refocused, and recommissioned.”
Swainsboro native Ben Troupe, starting tight end for the Tennessee Titians, shared testimony with Tuesday night’s crusade crowd. Wednesday night was the culmination of Gage’s out-reach to Emanuel County when more than 4,500 attended the crusade, including 2,500 youth who were treated to a free pizza blast prior to the evening service. University of Georgia first-string football players Russ Tanner, Josh Brock and D.J. Shockley shared their personal testimonies and challenged young people and adults to live for Christ. After Rick Gage preached, hundreds flooded the altars, culminating in 458 decisions for Christ that night.
Coaches Brandon Jernigan and David Johnson of Swainsboro High School were co-chairmen of the crusade’s Youth Committee. “I am overwhelmed by what God did,” says Jernigan. “We prayed over every seat in Tiger Stadium, and they were filled just about every night. After the stadium filled on Wednesday night, we had to seat kids anywhere we could fit them, all over the grass and on the track.
For more information about Rick Gage GO TELL Ministries, please call 1-866-I-GO-TELL; e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.gotellministries.com.