Churches in Effingham County conducted a creative weekend of evangelistic events on April 11-14 that drew thousands of participants and impacted the lives of over 500 people who made spiritual decisions.
Called “Effingham Adventure Weekend,” approximately 35 churches from various denominations partnered with evangelist Jay Lowder from Wichita Falls, Texas. They conducted five events over a period of four days, Thursday–Sunday.
The events included a youth rally, women’s dinner, men’s dinner, family festival and a celebration rally for everyone. Participating churches raised the budget, and each event had free admission, except for the two dinners, which sold tickets to cover the cost of food.
The events began with “Xtreme Student Night” on Thursday night. Nearly 2,000 youth gathered at the Effingham County High School gym to hear the contemporary Christian band Dayspring Reliance and evangelist Jay Lowder. Lowder spoke bluntly about teenage suicide and other youth issues.
On Friday night, a ladies’ banquet at the same location gathered 1,000 women for a meal around nicely-decorated tables. The ladies enjoyed an entertaining and moving message by LaDonna Gatlin, sister of the Gatlin Brothers. She sang and told stories, some humorous and some serious, about how God worked in her life in relationships with her family and through her trials.
On Saturday night, 700 men gathered for a sportsmen’s dinner in the county school system maintenance building, surrounded by mounted deer heads and wildlife. Lowder compared the Christian message to experiences he had in hunting, challenging the men to lead their families spiritually.
Earlier on Saturday, there was a six-hour outdoor expo at the high school that drew approximately 3,000-4,000 to the ECHS parking lot, including many children. The outdoor expo featured a classic car and motorcycle show, jumping gyms, bungee jumping, mechanical bull, animals to pet, live music, food vendors, business displays, and two dog show performances by Hank Hough. Hough used the dog tricks to compare the obedience of his dog with the need for people to obey Jesus Christ.
Effingham Adventure Weekend concluded with a Sunday night “celebration rally” in the ECHS gym where approximately 1,500 people gathered to celebrate the weekend experiences. Contemporary Christian recording artist Charles Billingsley sang with a mass choir made up of volunteers from participating churches. Lowder preached a Bible message encouraging and challenging those in attendance to live for Christ.
Preparation for Effingham Adventure Weekend started in fall 2011, when a group of local pastors met and decided on the need for a county-wide evangelistic outreach and invited other pastors to join them. As a result of Effingham Adventure Weekend, local pastors plan to continue meeting for prayer on the second Tuesday of each month. Interested pastors are invited to join them beginning May 14 at 9 a.m. at Baibry’s Café in Rincon (fellowship time beginning at 8:30 a.m.).
Floyd Zettler, local director of Effingham Adventure Weekend, had high praise for everybody involved.
“One man had a vision; he shared it, we shared it, and we put that vision in place, we prayed over it, and God delivered,” Zettler said. “The vision was to share the gospel…. A second part of the vision was to unite the Body of Christ.”
Said Billingsley: “I have never sensed a sweeter sense of unity in a body of believers.”
Added Lowder: “I have spoken at a lot of events, but I was humbled by the movement of the Holy Spirit.”
For more information on Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries, visit www.jaylowder.com.