The outreach was held in an area of special concern in northeast Alabama known as "Meth Mountain," about 40 miles from Huntsville.
"There is so much meth used in this county by young people," crusade chairman Roy Sullivan of Arab, Ala., stated.
"e have been praying and planning and putting all of our efforts into making this crusade happen for Christ and for Him alone," Sullivan said of local organizers' efforts since mid-2012. "This is not about us but is truly all about winning souls for the Kingdom of God."
Among the keys to the Sept. 22-25 crusade's success -- in spite of "the long and sometimes difficult road" -- was an openness to any denomination and any culture, Sullivan said.
"All were welcome to come those four nights to hear about one Lord and one Gospel and one Savior of all," he said.
Sullivan and another co-chairman, pastor Steve Swords of Victory Baptist Church in Guntersville, said they were impressed that evangelist Rick Gage was ready not only to speak at the nightly crusade meetings but also at county and city jails, all of the schools, several football practices, a pre-crusade youth rally and a Celebrate Recovery meeting for recovering alcoholics.
About 40 people made professions of faith at the jails, 80 at the youth rally and 12 at the Celebrate Recovery meeting before the crusade officially began.
"Rick Gage would do whatever he could do to reach the lost, even leading a body builder to Christ while he was working out," Swords said.
Gage, an international evangelist for 25 years, said Marshall County was an area "ripe for an evangelistic harvest. The preparation for this outreach was in place for more than a year. To have a successful evangelistic event, preparation and leadership are the two key components."
Volunteers from more than 50 churches in the county helped with the crusade. In addition to the 700-plus professions of faith, some 1,300 other people made spiritual commitments during the outreach at Guntersville High School's football stadium.One of the most amazing stories from the crusade, Swords said, involved a man who phoned his unsaved sister-in-law encouraging her to attend the crusade.
Tired, she said she would not be able to go but did agree to listen to Gage speak over the phone.
After about 10 minutes, her brother-in-law checked with her to see if she was still listening. Then after another 10 minutes, he checked again but received no reply. Then he looked down where Gage was speaking and saw his sister-in-law kneeling at the altar before Gage had even concluded his message.
Swords, one of nearly 300 crusade counselors from local churches, said he was able to lead a former football player to the Lord -- a young man he had known from seven years before who had become addicted to prescription drugs during those seven years. The young man had not even planned to attend the crusade but saw the stadium lights on and stopped to see what was going on.
Gage, of GO TELL Ministries in Atlanta, was joined by guest speakers Jose Alvarez, Tony Nolan and Steve Paysen. Musical guests were Joy Fowler and Chuck Sullivan, GO TELL's music director and worship leader for the past 20 years whose father was the crusade chairman.
Gage, accompanied by the Outcast BMX Bike Team, spoke to more than 7,000 students at every middle school and high school in the county about the dangers of drugs, alcohol abuse and premarital sex.
"After one of the high school assemblies, a student came up to me with tears in her eyes -- very broken. After hearing her heart and concern, I was able to share the Gospel with her. Right there, next to the high school gym, we led her to Christ," Gage recounted.
"There were so many prayers answered of those who had been praying for lost family members and friends who got saved," Gage said. "God is still in the saving business and He still uses crusade evangelism to reach multitudes for Christ."
Carolyn Cunningham is a writer in Smyrna, Ga. 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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