LONDON, Ky. -- Evangelist Rick Gage, sometimes called the Billy Graham of small towns, preached to crowds of more than 10,000 during a four-night "Share Jesus Celebration" in London, Ky.
More than 500 spiritual decisions were recorded, including 220 first-time professions of faith.
"The English language cannot express what God did in our county!" local businessman David Altizer said. "... A mighty revival started here as God changed and transformed lives. I don't see how one life could have been left untouched.
During the day, Gage and his team conducted "On Track" assemblies in 13 area high schools, talking about life's choices and issues such as drugs, alcohol abuse and teen suicide.
More than 5,000 students were in the assemblies, and many subsequently attended the crusade's youth night featuring free pizza and contemporary Christian music as well as Gage's focused preaching.
Shaun, a young man from one of the Laurel County high schools, confided in the evangelist that evening, "Before you came to my high school today, I had decided to end my life. Instead, tonight I asked Jesus Christ to set me free. He saved me and has completely changed me. I feel like a new person and have hope for the first time in a long time."
Rick Stanley, an evangelist and step-brother of Elvis Presley who often travels with Gage, gave his testimony at the London crusade.
"Rick Gage has a heart for the towns that most people overlook," Stanley said. "His mentality is that there is nothing small in the Kingdom of God. And God moves in mighty ways like He did here in London."
More than 40 churches of various denominations cooperated to reach the county with the Gospel message, beginning their preparations many months before the crusade team showed up.
The churches and supporting businesses raised the entire budget in advance of the Aug. 24-27 outreach.
"We had decided not to ask one lost person for a financial contribution," Altizer said. "We raised all the money up front over many months so that we wouldn't have to take one single offering."
Corinth Baptist Church pastor Jim Blaylock said reports abound that the crusade sparked a revival that is still going strong as leaders follow up with those who made decisions to help them get involved in a local church.
"Last Sunday night we had a tremendous testimony service that went on for one and a half hours as people spoke who had made decisions at the crusade," Blaylock said.
Rhonda Napier, her husband, and daughter, Bethany, were in the service at Corinth Baptist. Napier works the front desk at the Comfort Suites in London where Gage and his crusade staff lodged, and each day the Gage team engaged in friendly talk with Napier.
Her voice trembles when she talks about her experience. "Rick Gage and his staff were fabulous people who were very friendly to me. So I decided to attend Wednesday night of the crusade. It was unbelievable! God was there and He spoke to my heart. Both my daughter and I accepted Jesus Christ into our lives that night! It has been so wonderful!
"My whole family attended Corinth Baptist Church [the following] Sunday morning where I joined the new believers class," Napier continued. "We are all going to join the church. Bethany and I are going to be baptized together! Sunday night we went back for a wonderful time as many shared how God had changed their lives. Some have been saved since the crusade because of the powerful witness of those saved at the crusade."
Pastor Brian Cheaks of New Life Christian Fellowship baptized 14 people in his Sunday morning service as a result of decisions made at the crusade.
Pastor Ken Felty of First Baptist Church in Bernstadt, Ky., reported that decisions were continuing to be made in his services that lasted much longer than usual. "Never in my Christian life did I ever expect to see such a move of God in our local community as we have seen in the Laurel and Tri-County area of southeast Kentucky."
Mayor Ken Smith of London commented, "Reports keep coming in from young people who were delivered from drugs. City policemen were saved. Whole families were united in Christ. The stories go on and on."
"The old-time gospel still works," Gage said. "Mass evangelism still works. The days of evangelistic crusades and revivals are not over."
Gage has been involved in more than 500 crusades, revivals and conferences in small towns all across America, witnessing more than 250,000 decisions for Christ. His GO TELL Ministries, based in Duluth, Ga., include crusades, summer youth camps, school assemblies, one-day church revivals and overseas missions trips.