Throwback Thursday #TBT posts are older content that I am moving to this site. I hope you love this one and read it all. It was quite an experience!
This Spring ten IBC students ministered in Albany and Blakely, GA. instead of going home. I was privileged to be one of them, and in all forty-four people visited these ministries for the first time, twenty received the Holy Ghost, and two were baptized! It was a lot of work, be a great experience for me, and a lot of fun.
Arriving after our thirteen hour drive the seven men were introduced to Bro. Bobby. A retired baker and bachelor, he made the perfect host for us. We were at once at ease in his large home, not having women to worry about, and the next morning were amazed to find heaps of breakfast. Every morning an insurmountable pile of food was waiting. Crispy pancakes, dark sausage, flaky biscuits, thick bacon, hot links, grits, and cheesy eggs dared us to finish the table; we never did. And the sweet tea never even came close to running out, even with nine of us drinking it! Come to think of it I don't remember Bobby ever making a batch- must be the magic of the South.
Our first Sunday was a lot of ministry. Two of us spoke in the adult Sunday School, our team helped with music and singing, and then Bro. Robbinette (Missionary to Austria and the German speaking countries) preached the main service. This is where the bulk of those people mentioned received the Holy Ghost. After that meeting Robbinette spoke to us over a large lunch, and then we parted ways and left for Blakely. This rural community is about an hour away from Albany through the jungles of South Georgia. In Blakely our team led worship for the thirty or so attendees, and two more preached. There was a powerful move of God and many were praying in a deeper way.
The next day we met for a driving tour of Albany. We saw the colleges, found out that 75k people live in the city, and 165k in the metro area. Sixty-six percent of the population is black, and thirty four percent is white, with an official number of less than one thousand of any other race. Local industries are diverse; and the Baptist church that filmed Fireproof, Courageous, and Facing the Giants is in this city. Albany has been a favorite beneficiary of Ray Charles, and other contributors to population are the Marine base and three colleges. New Life of Albany is the only Apostolic Pentecostal church for five counties. There are nine-thousand-six-hundred Baptist churches in GA alone; the point was made that a little religion can inoculate people from a true experience.
With our eyes open to the opportunity to impact the community we set out and started knocking doors. This has always been a dreaded tactic for me, but my experience has been in the North. In the South people were very responsive and even appreciative of the interest. We were invited into homes, offered drinks for our time in the sun, and stood on many porches delivering testimonies and sharing Christ for many hours. This was the main purpose of our coming: outreach. We continued a 10am to 6pm-ish outreach schedule, with breaks for lunch, for the rest of the week. One day we were even able to add a “bread run” to it, where we took the baked goods donated to the church from a grocery store and shared it with the community.
One exception to the schedule was on Wednesday when we ministered in the Albany midweek service. Our team led music and three preached; so we were given the later afternoon to prepare. I was able to preach the Youth Revival class in which fifteen of the twenty-five kids present (between the ages of four and twelve) were first time visitors! Our outreach found people hungry for something different. Another exception to the schedule was a day where we just enjoyed the region; we saw a zoo with an alligator swamp, an aquarium, hiked a canyon, played ball in some parks, and visited the home of pres. Carter Plains, GA.
On Friday some of our ladies ministered in a woman’s morning prayer, and Saturday we drove into Blakely, GA. and did our outreach thing. It was a sprawling small town cut out of the jungle. Some projects housed many of the people we wanted to reach, and while Blakely didn't seem as inviting to our message as Albany had been a bunch of visitors came that Sunday to the evening service.
All during this time our team had been stuffed, every meal, with some of the best food I have ever tasted. Simple dishes like beans were being fought over, we had home cooked alligator, and there was always again too much. I had the best, most smokey ribs ever, the best coleslaw, and the best sweet tea of my life! Every meal came with desert, and every meal was amazing.
The last Sunday two of us spoke in the adult Sunday School, one taught the Kids Sunday School, and then two of us preached the main service after worship was led. Then we had lunch, and drove to Blakley, where two of us preached after the team led worship again. The response was enormous. With many visitors (one being a pastor) we ended church and had a great meal of chicken pot pies and other foods.
Monday we drove fifteen hours home, stopping by Bass Pro Shop and Zaxby's Chicken. In all it was a success! I hope many people will work to go this next year to help the Waldrons.