POULAN, Ga.— If you have a passion to see God do something, get a vision from above, add some really committed pastors, plus a responsive laity, then sprinkle it with moral purity, spiritual honesty, genuine faith, and fervent prayer you can have a revival break out almost anywhere — even under a watermelon shed in the Sumner community near the town of Poulan in Worth County.
Interestingly, the greeting on the sign entering Poulan states, “Welcome to Poulan the Home of Possum Poke”. Possum Poke, located on Possum Lane, is a historically registered property and once the home of the late Michigan Governor Chase S. Osborne.
Although Worth County is one of Georgia’s larger counties in terms of square miles, its population is less than it was in 1930, numbering only 21,679.
The peanut is Georgia’s official state crop, producing close to half of the peanuts grown annually in the United States. Worth County is the Peanut Capital of the world, but the county is also known for producing some mighty fine watermelons.
However, in recent years, Worth County has become known for its spring community revival meeting. Hundreds of people gather each spring under a watermelon shed, sing songs of praise, listen to Gospel preaching, and many find their way to the altar to find peace with God and renew their commitment to Him. The Baptists seem to have taken the lead, but churches of other denominations have gotten involved, racial barriers have been bridged, and God has richly blessed the effort.
The Worth County Crusade meetings have taken place every other year since 2010, this year being the fourth time the Sunday-night-through-Wednesday-night crusade has been held. Hours of prayer and planning precede these old-fashioned revival meetings and some say that they have literally changed the spiritual tone and temperature of the county.
The theme of this year’s meeting was “Stand”. Jason Jones, pastor of Isabella Baptist Church in Sylvester and one of the coordinators for the crusade, noted, “We see the erosion of our communities and we believe it is time, really past time, for God’s people to stand for righteousness and His purposes.”
Kemp Willis of Unity Baptist Church commented, “Who would have thought that God would use a watermelon shed purposed to hold and ship produce to proclaim the Gospel? Melons are good and nutritious, but the Word of God as spiritual food feeds to soul. We have had a tremendous time in the Lord.”
Jonathan Halstead, a deacon at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton, stated, “The thing that has stood out to me the most is the cooperation of the various churches. All these people have come out to be the church.”
No flash in the pan
Mallory associational missionary Hans Wunch testified, “Seeing hundreds of people from dozens of churches come together to worship the Lord has encouraged my soul. Hearing God’s Word proclaimed boldly and with reckless abandon has thrilled me to no end.
“But seeing groups of people being prayed over and encouraged renewed me more than anything else. These Worth County services are not ‘flash in the pan’ meetings, but times of worship with eternity in sight.”
“It has been a refreshing time this week to be able to worship and hear God’s Word with so many under one roof,” said Vicky McDonald of Liberty Hill Baptist Church. “Things have begun to happen that can only be explained with words like ‘God has been in this place’.”
Jim Eure, deacon and Sunday School teacher at Pine Forest Baptist Church, exclaimed, “The fellowship among the many churches was truly something to see. Many people made a commitment to stand up for the Lord. My prayer is that this time of revival/renewal will make a difference and be ongoing.”
Jimmy and Lynette Cross, both leaders in Pine Hill Baptist Church, spoke of the soul-stirring music led by Brian Broome, worship leader at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton, and the powerful preaching of Bert Harper of America Family Radio, Fred Evers, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Tifton, and Emir Caner, president of Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland. They both stated, “God is here.”
Dianne Willis Pitts, choir member of Northside Baptist Church in Sylvester, remarked, “This revival has been an inspiration and has motivated me to share Jesus. It has been a wonderful time of praise and worship with other Worth County Christians.”
Those who think the day of revivals is over should ask the people in Worth County. They have just concluded their scheduled meetings, but the impact of the revival will be experienced for weeks and months to come.
This article appeared in The Christian Index (christianindex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Gerald Harris is editor of The Christian Index.�