By Brian Parker
Beginning the first Sunday in March, my church, First Baptist Kingsland, conducted a “Harvest Crusade.” Some churches call those “Revivals.” But to us, it’s a “Harvest Crusade.”
I define a Revival as a time in a church where believers are encouraged and motivated with a new fire and life to serve Christ with greater fervency.
On the other hand, Harvest Crusades, in my opinion, are times when the church seeks to invest in the lives of lost people and bring them to salvation in Jesus Christ and thus see a “Harvest” of Souls. Our church conducted a “harvest” crusade and in the process was revived because we got to see lives changed and souls saved for the glory of God. So, if you want to call it a Revival, we had a Revival.
Over four days, we saw 39 people put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. It was a tremendous experience. Revivals still work.
We had an evangelist come in named Jon Reed, and beginning that Sunday morning thru Wednesday night we saw lives changed at every service. We saw lives changed during each of our three morning services as well as at each nightly service. Some services had as many as ten decisions; but every service had at least one decision. All told, we saw 39e decisions in four days through Jon’s evangelism and preaching ministry. Let me just give you my impressions of what this “Revival” has meant to our church.
First, we prayed and fasted in preparation for this revival. Our church came together with a unified vision and direction, and I believe that the harvest we saw was directly linked to the prayer and fasting that was conducted leading up to the revival. Jon conducted a preparation day eight weeks before our Harvest Crusade. This day of preparation stimulated the eight weeks of preparation that our staff led the church through.
This allowed our people to meet him and be excited to know who was coming. We had over 225 people praying each day. We also had 35 people fast at least one meal, one day, or longer over the eight weeks of preparation. This preparation made a difference.
Second, using an evangelist made a difference. While I would say that I am an evangelistic preacher, I do not believe that I have the gift of evangelism. I work hard to build relationships, I pray for opportunities, and I ask God for boldness to share the Gospel. However, Jon Reed, the evangelist we brought in, has the gift of harvesting. I believe using a gifted harvester with the gift of evangelism like Jon Reed made all the difference in the world.
God specially equips evangelists to preach and give an invitation. I have watched God on many different occasions and settings use Jon Reed to draw people to Christ as their Savior.
God has used Jon during one-day revivals, four-day revivals, week-long revivals, one-day emphases, men’s wild game dinners, and on staff as a pastor. God has specially anointed Jon to harvest souls. Using an evangelist who is living a holy life makes a difference in the results a church sees at a revival.
Third, we experienced revival because we saw lives changed. We saw lives changed because we expected to see lives changed. We prayed for lives to change. We fasted for lives to change. We invited people to come, we brought them with us. We did intentional acts of kindness to encourage them to come. We did all of this because we expected God to show up and to speak through the evangelist and the worship. God met our expectation and exceeded it.
We were encouraged. When family members got saved, we were encouraged. When prayers were answered, we were encouraged. Watching God work today encourages us.
Today, there are those who would suggest that revivals don’t work, that they are unnecessary. I believe that revivals don‘t work because church leaders don’t pray, church leaders don’t fast, and church leaders don’t lead their churches to pray and fast. I would strongly encourage every church within the Georgia Baptist Convention to have a revival. Invite an evangelist like Jon Reed to come to their church. But before he comes, pray, fast, and prepare for a harvest. You and the church will be encouraged: Revived. Remember, Revivals still work.
Brian Parker serves as pastor of First Baptist Church in Kingsland.