The small town of Bowdon is the latest to experience a localized revival with more than 32 people making salvation decisions at a ministry outreach that drew some 900 people.
Several local churches worked together to organize the March 25 event — dubbed Love Loud Bowdon — that showered people with a variety of gifts ranging from appliances to groceries.
“The whole purpose is to show the love of God,” said Mountain View Baptist Church Pastor Scott Estes. “People have struggled to understand why everything is free. On Saturday, an older man said, there’s nothing free. I told him, sir, it is free.”
That, Estes said, always opens the door for conversations to explain God’s free gift of salvation.
Tim Williams, missions strategist in the Carrollton Baptist Association who preached at the event, said while they know for sure that 32 people made professions of faith, the number of salvation decisions may have been closer to 50.
Local churches collected a wide variety of gifts, ranging from refrigerators to baby strollers, from washers and dryers to gift cards for monthly electric bills, to give to attendees. Church members also served about 800 lunches of hotdogs, chips, sweet tea and cookies.
The churches gave $5,000 in gift cards for Piggly Wiggly and another $5,000 in gift cards to cover utility bills.
Such events, Williams said, can be highly effective, especially in economically depressed communities.
“In areas where a lot of people are hurting financially, to be able to get a $100 gift card for food or to get a power bill paid is huge,” he said.
Estes said the Bowden event dates back 12 years and has been helpful in making personal contact local families.
“The purpose is to give, to show love,” he said.
Because getting around to all the homes for personal visits is difficult, Estes said the church heeded the advice of a missionary who suggested a Love Loud event would bring the residents to one location.
The event began as a free yard sale where people were invited to come and pick up any items at no cost. The event provided so popular that Mountainview had to move the event from the church to Bowdon Middle School.
Over time, the yard sale gave way to the much larger Love Loud event.
“It’s all about reaching people,” Estes said. “That’s what we want to do.”
Growing number of decisions
Georgia Baptist churches have been reporting growing numbers of people turning to Christ.
On college and university campuses, 119 students have made salvation decisions since early January, said Beverly Skinner, collegiate ministry catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
The state’s Deaf ministries have also been impacted with five salvation decisions in recent weeks, a significant number in a state where 3.1% of the population live with hearing impairment.
Northside Baptist Church in Valdosta has seen 43 baptisms in the past three weeks and 67 since Christmas.
Others have seen big numbers of salvation decisions in single-day events or at multi-day events, including Pleasant Valley South Baptist Church in Silver Creek where 21 people made salvation decisions at sportsmen’s banquet last week, at Dudley Baptist Church where 42 people made salvation decisions, and a Hopeful Baptist Church in Camillia where 30 people made salvation decisions.
In February, 41 people surrendered to Christ at a wild game dinner in the fellowship hall at Bethel Baptist Church in Omega where some 400 men had gathered.
In January, First Baptist Church in Blackshear reported 19 professions of faith at a venison supper. Another 28 people recommitted their lives to Christ at that event.
And in north Georgia, Cassville Baptist Church began the new year with nine baptisms, the first sign that the spontaneous revivals were continuing into the new year.
Such localized revivals that occurred in churches across the state last year pushed numbers of baptisms up by nearly 2,000.
Georgia Baptist churches reported 14,333 baptisms in 2022, up from 12,865 the previous year.
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EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Roger Alford and originally published by the Christian Index.