Evangelist in father's footsteps at 2012 crusade

Baptist Press

12/19/2012 5:22:18 PM - Baptist Press

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (BP) -- The youth made him do it.

Although a retired pastor initially encouraged Mickey Briles, pastor of Beverly Hills Baptist Church in Rockingham, N.C., to explore the possibility of a Rick Gage GO TELL Crusade, the youth of the church soon became the driving motivation.

"Our kids wanted more of their friends to enjoy what they had experienced at camp," Briles said.

"Every year, we have kids saved at Rick's GO TELL Camp. They have stuck with it -- one will go into ministry," Briles said. "Rick Gage and his ministry have a genuine passion to see people saved, and they have the anointing to make it happen.

"So we had to have the crusade."

The retired pastor, Eugene McNair, had coordinated a crusade by Gage's father, evangelist Freddie Gage, 26 years earlier in Rockingham.

Freddie Gage, now retired and living in Texas, began his crusade ministry more than 50 years ago. His 1986 crusade in Rockingham drew more than 42,000 in attendance and resulted in 1,000-plus salvation decisions.

"Many have shared with me that was the greatest religious event the county had ever witnessed," the younger Gage, also an evangelist, said.

Chuck McKnight had answered the Lord's call to preach during the earlier crusade and assisted with the task force for the 2012 crusade, but he had no way of knowing how it would further impact his family.

McKnight's son, Clint, wrote to Rick Gage after the crusade to tell of its eternal impact in his life.

"I wanted to personally let you know how much I appreciate you being obedient to the Lord and sharing what the Spirit prompted you to share Wednesday night at the crusade in Rockingham," the younger McKnight wrote. "That message haunted me from Wednesday night until Sunday morning when I surrendered my life to Christ!

"Your testimony described my life. Also, like you, I 'walked the aisle' at 9 years old, got baptized and thought, 'Me and God, we're okay'; but there was no change," Clint McKnight continued. "I am now 29 years old; and just like Jesus restored sight to the blind man, my eyes were finally opened and I realized there was no fruit of salvation in my life! I knew what to say around certain people and how to act; I had a lot of people fooled -- even myself. I couldn't remember a time when I was excited about reading and praying or pretty much anything to do with Jesus.

McKnight concluded his letter by recounting that he "attended every night and was challenged. I fought moving on the invitation every night, but I am so thankful for God's mercy and grace. You will never know how your testimony touched my heart and allowed the Spirit to open my eyes. Thanks for being obedient. To GOD be the glory!"

More than 800 decisions for the Christ were made during the Sandhills Area GO TELL Crusade, including 441 for salvation. Attendance topped 12,000 for the Sept. 16-19 outreach.

Crusade chairman Thad Ussery said the Rockingham outreach "brought a unity among the denominations that we had not seen before, and the effects can still be seen with baptisms."

In post-crusade follow-up, hospitality chair Earl Rose noted, "All those who have made decisions have been called by churches, counselors, telephone committees and individuals who just wanted to encourage and invite these people to church and get them plugged into a Bible-believing church."

More than 350 volunteers from 40-plus churches helped with the crusade. "There was a sense of one purpose only, and that was to touch someone for Jesus Christ," said Ann Carr, whose husband Carr served as the crusade's finance chair.

Threatening weather on the first three nights of the crusade was a concern, but the rain either stopped or went around the 4,000-seat Richmond Senior High School stadium, Ussery and crusade co-chair Cathy Wilson marveled. "The Lord is in control of nature -- just like the storms in our lives," Ussery said, with Wilson commenting, "Although the rain showered every day, it did not rain ONE drop during the crusade, and the sky was beautiful."

Gage, president of GO TELL Ministries in Atlanta, was joined by guest speakers Adrian Despres, University of South Carolina football chaplain, and speaker and author Tony Nolan. Musical guests were Chuck Sullivan and Joy Fowler.

The Outcast BMX Freestyle Stunt Team joined Gage for his "On Track" presentations at local school assemblies. During the week, Gage spoke to more than 5,000 students about life's choices and the dangers of drugs, alcohol abuse, teen suicide, premarital sex and bullying.

"We are still hearing about conversions" as a result of the crusade, Carr said. "One that was really exciting was when a counselor went into the local Dairy Queen one night after the meeting. He saw a young lady at a table, and he could see she had been crying. He sat down next to her and struck up a conversation. She had been to the crusade but did not respond to the invitation. The counselor was able to lead this young lady to the Lord in the Dairy Queen! Praise the Lord!"

Rose, meanwhile, told of a family's experience on the last night of the crusade as a young father shared with a counselor that he had just accepted Christ and, nearby, the mother was sharing the same news with a lady counselor. "At the same time, both of their children also were praying to accept Jesus as their personal Savior," Rose said.

Gage had a simple response to the many reports of good news.

"God has done it again," he said. "He has done it again!"

Adapted from reports from GO TELL Ministries. For more information about GO TELL crusades and camps, visit www.gotellministries.com or call 1-866-446-8355. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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