GAINESVILLE, Ga. – Georgia is seeing revival on college and university campuses where 119 students have made salvation decisions since early January.
Beverly Skinner, collegiate ministry catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, said the new believers were introduced to Jesus by young Christians involved in Baptist Collegiate Ministry who have shared the gospel with 3,965 of their fellow students between early January and mid-March.
“Evangelism is our first priority,” Skinner said. “That’s why we exist. We are teaching students that, when you’re a Christ follower, a part of what you do is share your faith with others.”
College campuses have been a hotbed for revival this year, not just in Georgia but across the country.
“Our colleges and universities are spiritual battlefields,” said Levi Skipper, who, as the state Mission Board’s lead strategist for church strengthening, oversees collegiate ministries and evangelism. “It’s encouraging to see so many students choosing to be on Christ’s side.”
Localized revivals that have been happening across Georgia, even reaching the state’s Deaf ministries where five people are set to be baptized in coming weeks. While not the largest number of salvation decisions seen this year among any particular faith community, it a significant in a state where 3.1 percent of the population live with hearing impairment.
“Leading people to Jesus is not rocket science,” said Barb Coffan, a champion for Georgia’s Deaf community who interprets at First Baptist Church in Peachtree City and at Georgia Baptist Convention meetings. “It's just depending on the Holy Spirit to lead you to people whose hearts are prepared by others, and being willing to take the time to share. All the results are up to God.”
Churches have been reporting mass numbers of professions of faith in every part of Georgia this year, including at Northside Baptist Church in Valdosta, which has seen 43 baptisms in the past three weeks and 67 since Christmas, and at Pleasant Valley South Baptist Church in Silver Creek where 21 people made salvation decisions at sportsmen’s banquet last week.
“You could sense the presence of the Holy Spirit,” said Pleasant Valley South Pastor Philip May. “It was all ages of people who got saved.”
Prior to that, 42 people who made salvation decisions at Dudley Baptist Church in central Georgia and 30 more at Hopeful Baptist Church in Camilla.
The localized revivals have been happening in Georgia churches for the past year with some congregations reporting single-day salvation decisions ranging from a few dozens to nearly 200.
As a result, Georgia Baptist churches reported 14,333 baptisms in the past year, up from 12,865 the previous year. The latest numbers account for only slightly more than half of the state’s 3,400 churches, so the total number of baptisms could be far higher.
The localized revivals continued into the new year.
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 for a meal that included a variety of wild game, including deer, hog and quail.
Pastor Troy Dykes said members of his congregation had been praying for a harvest of souls and the Lord answered those prayers among a group of camo-clad guys, many of whom are more accustomed to sitting in tree stands than church pews.
“God moved like we had never seen Him move before,” Dykes said. “It’s a fantastic feeling to know God used our event to change men’s lives.”
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.
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