An evangelistic outreach in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Georgia recently resulted in 102 people becoming followers of Christ one Saturday, thrilling local church leaders eager to see their community transformed.
“We’re sometimes known as Little Chicago because of our high crime rate,” said David Lix, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, one of seven congregations that joined forces to sponsor block parties and to go door to door in the 31907 zip code to tell people about Jesus.
The spiritual harvest is the latest evidence of revival in Georgia where hundreds of people have made professions of faith in recent months.
Associational missionary Jimmy Blanton said he was heartbroken by surveys that showed fewer than 10 percent of the people living in the zip code area attend church, an indicator that perhaps 90 percent of residents 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 to knock on doors.
Lix said volunteers found people living in the high-crime neighborhoods open to discussing spiritual matters in visits at their homes and at the block parties held at two community parks on the sunny Saturday afternoon.
Marguerite Hodge, one of the Liberty Baptist Church volunteers, said three people have been killed in the parking lot of a discount store not far from her home. Those kinds of tragedies, she said, reflects just how important the CrossOver907 initiative is.
“If the entire city finds Jesus, we will not have these problems,” she said.
Two days earlier in nearby Carrollton, Ga., more than 1,100 people turned out for a Roopville Road Baptist Church initiative that included a low-country boil, a get-together that centers around a delicious meal of boiled shrimp and other seafoods with sausage, corn, potatoes and other ingredients all combined in the same pot.
Pastor Stephen Peeples said seven people made professions of faith at that event.
And in Sylvester, Ga., more than 100 people made professions of faith during an evangelistic outreach sponsored by a group southern Georgia churches the week before, said Tim Williams, an evangelism consultant for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
Williams said the COVID-19 pandemic may have opened the door for what’s happening in the state.
“People are extremely open to talking about spiritual matters since the pandemic,” he said. “Everyone knows someone who has been sick or who has died as a result of COVID-19, and that has caused people to open their eyes to spiritual matters.”
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 earlier this month 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.
‘Mighty movement of God’
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.”
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.
More than 1,500 Georgia Baptists turned out for regional evangelism training events sponsored by the Georgia Baptist Mission Board in February and early March, an indicator that the state’s largest religious group is ready to get back to the kind of soul-winning it has historically been known for.
“This is the largest turnout we’ve seen in years,” said JJ Washington, the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s evangelism catalyst who organized the multi-site and multi-day conference. “We’re seeing renewed excitement in both the pulpits and the pews to win our state for Christ.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story was written by Roger Alford and published by The Christian Index, news service of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.