Is it just me or are churches having fewer revivals these days? Oh, I know we have camp meeting and I go to two or three of those a year, not counting our own annual get together at Salem -- but I'm talking about an old fashioned revival at the church -- with plenty of hymn singing and preaching and maybe even a testimony or two.
We had them all the time when I was coming up and whenever there was one in the area Mama would make sure we went at least one or two nights. You probably remember how they worked. There would be preaching every night for a whole week, with a lot of emphasis on salvation. Church regulars were invited to bring the non-churched with them for a good dose of singing and praying and stem-winding from the pulpit.
One night was always designated as "Youth Night," and the program on that night was slanted toward the needs of young people. I saw Paul Anderson, the World's Strongest Man, at a fall revival youth night service at the Julia A. Porter United Methodist Church. He put about 20 of us on a table and then got up under the table and stood up with it on his back. He also wrapped a handkerchief around a ten-penny nail and drove it through a two-by-four. That was impressive. Honesty compels me to admit that I don't remember much about Paul Anderson's message that night, but I've never forgotten his massive chest, practically popping the buttons off the black shirt he was wearing. And I've never forgotten being on top of that table with some really cute Methodist girls, either.
Marshall Edwards got saved at youth night of the fall revival at that same church. You and I can't count the number of lives that have been made better because Marshall found Jesus that night.
Revivals were always big on emotion, too -- and I walked down dozens of aisles to ask forgiveness for my sins from the time I was 12 until I went away from college and kind of got out of the revival habit. Every trip made me a better person -- if only just for a little while.
Somewhere along the way churches -- at least most of the ones I know anything about -- got out of the habit of regular revivals. I guess people are just too busy nowadays and with air-conditioning and 220 television stations to choose from, I guess it is kind of hard to get up a crowd. I remember pleading with the preacher at a church I once attended to have a revival. I even pledged to do whatever it took to make it a success. He wouldn't budge, though. The preacher insisted that nobody would come.
Since we didn't ever have one, I suppose he was assured of being right.
Well, I told you all of that to tell you this. Todd Hilton, down at Mansfield United Methodist Church in south Newton County, isn't afraid to go out on a limb and his church is having a big time revival this very week. Services begin at 6:30 p.m., Monday through Wednesday. The theme is Faith, Hope and Love. I don't know about you, but I believe I could use a double dose of all of the above.
Frank Bernat will be bringing the message on Monday night and will be talking about faith, and sharing his. Morgan Everson will preach about hope on Tuesday night and yours truly will be preaching on love Wednesday night. They weren't trying to save the best for last, but the Bible does say "Faith, hope and love, these three -- and the greatest of these is love."
Y'all know I'm just playing -- but not about one thing. You will do yourself a favor if you'll make your way down to Mansfield any of these three nights. There will be special music each night, too, and the night I preach my old pal Mr. Moby will be limbering up his pipes and letting loose with a few of our favorites -- like "Blessed Assurance" or "Amazing Grace" or maybe even "Love Lifted Me."
It is going to be a great evening and a great revival. Lives will be changed. One of them might even be yours -- but not if you don't come on down.
I hope to see you there, because if there ever was a nation that needed reviving, it's this one. We'd better start somewhere. Mansfield seems like as good a place as any.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.