Hordes of people streamed out of the bleachers at Jimmy Swain Stadium in Baxley, Georgia, on Wednesday (Sept. 20) to gather around a platform where evangelist Rick Gage had just preached the gospel on the final night of an evangelistic crusade.
Gage had called on them to repent of their sins and to be born again. They heeded that call.
Since the the start of the crusade, more than 1,600 people made commitments to Christ. That number includes decisions recorded at a pre-crusade youth rally last week.
“It was amazing to see,” said Samuel Ayala, a Geogia Baptist Mission Board staffer who served as a Spanish interpreter at the crusade. “The people were hungry for the gospel.”
Gage, leader of Georgia-based GO TELL Ministries, has been dubbed “the small-town Billy Graham” for taking his crusades to places that other evangelists might see only from the air on their way to big cities.
An Associated Press article from 20 years ago said Gage fills stadiums just as full as Graham does, except that the stadiums are much smaller.
In Baxley, the Jimmy Swain Stadium had been staged to accommodate 4,000 people.
Leading up to the crusade, Gage, a Texas native who once coached running backs at Texas Tech and Liberty University, ramped up excitement with personal appearances across seven counties. He and two other evangelists — Adrian Despres, a former chaplain to the South Carolina Gamecocks, and Scott Camp, a Texas-based evangelist and missionary to Africa — hopscotched throughout the region, appearing on local TV and delivering motivational talks.
From jails to college campuses
They also shared the gospel in local jails where about 50 inmates made commitments to Christ.
At nearby Brewton-Parker College, 150 students made commitments to Christ after Gage preached in a chapel service.
“The Holy Spirit was moving in a way I have never seen before,” said Steve Echols, a longtime preacher and Christian educator who serves as the college’s president. “I have seen some marvelous things, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more precious than this.”
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