VILLA RICA, Ga. — Georgia pastor Kevin Williams sees what he describes as a spiritual shift that is bringing the Bible back to the Bible Belt.
“People are searching for truth,” he said Friday, a day after 220 students in Carroll County, Ga., surrendered their lives to Christ. “We’re living in a time that the Bible warns about, when people will be calling wrong right and right wrong. We’ve reached a point where people are saying enough is enough. It’s like a switch has flipped and things are going back the right direction.”
The result has been remarkable numbers of Georgians turning to Christ in communities all over the state, including the astonishing move of God on Thursday among high school football players, cheerleaders and band members in Villa Rica and Roopville, west of Atlanta.
Georgians are also seeing a renewed boldness among Christians to proclaim Jesus, including Christians who hold prominent positions in the world of athletics.
David Rocker, who played for Auburn University and the Los Angeles Rams, shared the gospel with hundreds of students at Roopville Road Baptist Church Thursday evening. Simultaneously, on the other side of Carroll County, Rich Wingo, who played five seasons for the Green Bay Packers after finishing his college career at the University of Alabama, told hundreds of students gathered at First Baptist Church of Villa Rica about Jesus.
Their messages were strikingly similar: Only Jesus can satisfy people’s deepest longings.
Bryant Turner, executive pastor at Roopville Road and chairman of the Carroll County Board of Education, said his church got involved in Gridiron Day for the first time this year after seeing how effective it has been at First Baptist Villa Rica over the past decade.
Like Williams, Turner is seeing the pendulum swinging back to biblical truth, especially among teens.
Turner talked about a conversation he had with a student who will be attending the University of Southern California on an athletic scholarship.
“He had every award and medal you could get, president of every club in his high school,” Turner said. “Yet, he said he felt a void.”
Turner told him: “We were all born with a huge void in our hearts that can only be filled with Jesus.”
That young man bowed his head and prayed to receive Christ and felt complete satisfaction.
“I have finally filled the void in my life,” he told Turner.
At Roopville Road, 70 students prayed to receive Christ on Thursday, as did 150 students at Villa Rica.
“It was awesome,” Williams said. “The worship was unreal. All the kids had their hands up and their phones out with their flashlights on, waving them through the air.”
The upcoming generation, he said, is serious about following Jesus and seem destined to move the nation back to its Christian moorings.
People like Rocker and Wingo recognize that, too, and are doing their part to fan the spiritual fires.
“You can go to the next level,” Rocker told the Georgia student athletes. “You might even play professionally. But if you think this is going to satisfy you, you’re wrong. The only thing that’s going to satisfy you is Jesus Christ.”
Tim Williams, missions director in the Carroll County Baptist Association, said many of the 800 students and coaches in the two churches Thursday night were already committed Christians.
“I think a lot of kids are seeing that they’ve been fed a line that success can make you happy,” Tim Williams said. “The truth is Christ is the One who makes the difference. These kids are getting that. I haven’t heard of 220 kids getting saved on a Thursday night in a long, long time. This is huge.”