THOMASVILLE, Ga. – The number of new Christians in Georgia grew by another 19 in revival services earlier this month at Pineland Baptist Church in Thomasville in the state’s southwest region.
The new converts join hundreds of other Georgians who have made professions of faith in recent weeks in what denominational leaders hope is the beginning of a widespread spiritual awakening.
“I do think that people are extremely open to the Gospel right now, more so than they’ve been in a long time,” said Tim Williams, an evangelism strategist for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. “I don’t know if it has to do with people being concerned about all that’s going on in the world or if it’s that the Lord’s coming is near and He’s touching people’s hearts. What we’re seeing isn’t limited to a single demographic group. We’ve seeing adults being saved. We’re seeing teenagers being saved. We’re seeing children being saved.”
Before that in Mount Vernon, Ga., it was college students, 20 of them, who made salvation decisions in a Brewton-Parker College chapel service.
“We’re seeing a spiritual hunger, and, as a result, we’re seeing an awesome move of God,” said Brewton-Parker President Steven Echols.
Three days before that, 102 Columbus, Ga., residents claimed Christ in an evangelistic outreach in one of Georgia’s toughest neighborhoods, one that had become known as Little Chicago because of its high crime rate.
In the Columbus Baptist Association, associational missionary Jimmy Blanton said he had been heartbroken by surveys that showed fewer than 10 percent of the people living in the 31907 zip code area attend church, an indicator that perhaps 90 percent of residents there are spiritually lost.
That led Blanton and other church leaders to develop a plan they dubbed “CrossOver907”, which sent about 260 volunteers into the community on a Saturday to visit homes to tell residents about Jesus. They also threw block parties in local parks with food and activities to share the Gospel.
I just believe that God has opened the door for a great harvest,” Blanton said. “I think the door is going to swing wide, and we’re going to see a lot of people come to faith.”
Three weeks ago, more than 1,100 people turned out for a Roopville Road Baptist Church event in Carrollton, Ga., that saw seven come to Christ.
And in Sylvester, Ga., more than 100 people made professions of faith during an evangelistic outreach sponsored by a group of area churches.
Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr. said the COVID-19 pandemic could actually be the trigger for what’s happening in Georgia.
“Since the pandemic, it seems as though there’s a greater receptivity to spiritual truth and eternal hope,” he said.
Churches began to see salvation decisions rise when they returned to pre-pandemic activities, including revival services, community outreaches, block parties and more.
In northeast Georgia, 17 salvation decisions were reported in March at two Christian learning centers where public school students go for Bible studies. Mike Blount, mission strategist in the Tugalo Baptist Association, said those professions of faith were among 30 made since August in the learning centers.
“It’s amazing to see what God is doing,” Blount said.
Other ministry leaders also have used the word “amazing” to talk about recent instances of revival, including at Shorter University where 24 students made decisions for Christ during a chapel service in late February.
Shorter President Donald Dowless called what happened “a mighty movement of God.”
Georgia Baptist Convention President Kevin Williams, pastor of First Baptist Church of Villa Rica, preached in the chapel services at both Shorter and Brewton-Parker. He said he feels blessed to have been able to be a part of what the Lord is doing in the state.
Brewton-Parker also reported more than 20 salvation decisions at a campus tent revival last fall.
In Moultrie, Kingwood Baptist Church Pastor Matt Greene reported 30 salvation decisions during a four-day revival in early February. That’s in a church with average Sunday attendance of about 80 people.
In Woodstock, First Baptist Church baptized 99 people on a single Sunday in September, and in Bethlehem, Bethlehem Church baptized 114 on a single Sunday in August.
At Pineland Baptist Church, Pastor Rickey Whitley said the revival was sparked by prayer.
“We asked God to show up and show out,” Whitley said. “We’ve been praying for revival to start with us, as individuals. We felt like if we had revival begin in us first, then evangelism would take place. We’d begin to talk about what God is doing. We’d begin inviting lost people to come to church. We’d begin introducing people to Christ.”
Whitley said his church has seen lives were completely transformed this week, including for one man who had been involved with drugs.
“He got saved, and his wife got saved,” the pastor said. “Now, that whole family is serving the Lord. It’s just amazing what God is doing.”