News Articles

Teen’s death stirred peers; area-wide revival under way

HINDMAN, Ky. (BP)–A revival that began after the death of a popular cheerleader last year has resulted in more than 90 people accepting Christ as Savior the past two months.
Mike Caudill, pastor of First Baptist Church, Hindman, Ky., said the latest move of God began at a Sunday night youth service March 9. After 10 youth were saved, he urged the church to continue the ministry to teenagers.
That led to ongoing Sunday night youth services, with at least two people saved each week.
“It’s rocking this whole county,” the pastor said. “We’re having cross-denominational attendance in church. It’s incredible how churches are reaching across denominational lines.”
The services feature skits, mime, interpretive dance, music and preaching. Commonly lasting at least two hours, they recently inspired “afterglow” meetings that sometimes run until midnight.
The latter provide additional opportunities for testimonies and music from “Burnt Offering,” a contemporary Christian band of First Baptist youth who gave their debut concert several weeks ago.
Of the salvations registered since early March, almost 90 percent have been teens, Caudill said. Three dozen of the converts had been baptized by April 27.
To follow up on these decisions, First Baptist established a “Nehemiah Team” of adults to disciple the youth converts. The church also has a new believers’ Sunday school class.
The youth-centered revival also inspired a “Burn The World” night in early April. Eighty teens gathered to burn their unwholesome music cassettes and CDs, T-shirts, Ouija boards and other materials, Caudill said.
Among those who have made professions of faith is Christopher Prater, who accepted Christ at First Baptist’s Vacation Bible School but had never been baptized.
He is the brother of Merri Kathryn Prater, a cheerleader at Knott County Central High School who died in April 1996 from injuries sustained in a single-car accident.
Two dozen people accepted Christ as Savior four days after her death and a dozen more salvations soon followed. Jarvis Williams and Mark Combs, two of her friends who were saved last year, are the main speakers at the youth services.
Williams, the first African American to join First Baptist, does the preaching. He plans to become a pastor after college.
“This is pretty awesome,” he said. “I’m just grateful I’m a part of it. The highlight has been getting up there and preaching God’s Word and seeing family members and friends walk the aisles.”
The former Knott Central baseball and basketball player credited Merri Kathryn with inspiring the current move of God’s spirit.
“She’s touched my life and a lot of others. When we saw her lying in that hospital bed fighting for her life, it made me look at my own life. From that point on, I felt the Lord saying, ‘Jarvis, it’s time you gave your life to me.'”
Combs, who accepted Christ at the church the night Prater died, said he realized the drugs and other things he had been doing weren’t helping him. Today he feels called to become a youth pastor.
“I just feel so unworthy to be used the way God is using us right now,” he said. “A lot of people say it’s because of Brother Mike, Jarvis or me, but we stress every Sunday night that we’re just the tools. God is using us to get to the people.”
Nor is this activity limited to church. A youth team has given testimonies at a local school and a service was held on a recent Sunday night at the high school. Youth from Smithboro Baptist, another Southern Baptist church, helped lead the latter.
Caudill said he has seen God move in the past, but nothing that compares to this revival.
“Our youth minister walks up and down the hall at school and kids are talking about God. I’m talking about kids who were on cocaine, who had severe, terrible drug use problems. Parents’ mouths drop open in the congregation when their kids say, ‘I’ve been delivered from drugs.’ These kids are being set free.”
While the revival is a tribute to Prater, the pastor said, the church’s Promise Keepers men’s group also has played a part.
After attending a rally three years ago, the men began meeting at the church every Tuesday night to pray. They have interceded for many of the teens who have been saved recently, Caudill said.
“This prayer ministry has done more for me in shaping and developing my commitment to the Lord than anything I’ve experienced in the life of the church,” the pastor said. “They pray for our people and hold up our ministry in a powerful way.”

    About the Author

  • Ken Walker