WILLIAMSON, Ga. — Dixie Gilbert was nauseous during worship on Sunday morning and was thinking she needed to go back home.
“I was not feeling good at all and was super dizzy and lightheaded,” she told Pastor Chris Watson at Harp’s Crossing Hollonville after the service. “But something kept telling me to stay.”
She understood why when, near the end of the service, her 13-year-old daughter prayed to receive Christ.
“Praise God,” she said, “the devil lost another soul today.”
Redemption stories abound at the Hollonville campus, where attendance had fallen sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Watson said, the Lord has stepped in in a big way.
The campus has recovered remarkably since January, beginning the year with six baptisms and an infusion of excitement.
On Sunday, three new believers were baptized, and, with Georgia-based evangelist Keith Fordham preaching, two others prayed to receive Christ.
“We’ve been seeing God move in the past nine months,” Watson said. “We’re seeing people who weren’t connected to church getting connected. We’re seeing a lot of new people coming in, many of them young families.”
Harp’s Crossing Baptist Church in Fayetteville had brought the struggling Hollonville congregation into its fold in 2011 through a merger. Attendance had fallen to about 30 people on Sunday mornings at Hollonville, and the congregation knew it needed to merge to survive.
Watson was named campus pastor, and Sunday morning attendance swelled to about 100. Then came the pandemic, which hit churches hard across the nation.
Many congregations continue to struggle to get attendance back to pre-pandemic levels.
Watson said his church’s rebound has him excited.
“We don’t have anything to attribute it to, as in anything we did, except that we’ve tried to be faithful,” Watson said. “God has done it all.”
Watson said one of his new families, a mother and two children, came to the church the first time by mistake, at least that’s what they initially thought. After the service, they had a different assessment.
“I was supposed to be here,” the mother told Watson.
They have been attending every Sunday since.
“I’m loving it,” Watson said. “The good news is we can’t take any credit for it. We didn’t do any dog-and-pony show to get people in the door. We just preached the gospel. God has honored that, and now we’re back.”
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