By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
SULPHUR, La. (LBM) – For several months, Addisyn Brattain had been a faithful attender of Maplewood First Baptist Church when her student minister, Nathan Yates, challenged the youth group to truly follow Christ.
Brattain knew about Jesus, but it was not until that summertime Wednesday evening that she finally understood what it meant to be committed to Him. During a worship service, Sept. 26, she shared her decision before friends and family through baptism.
“It was like a breath of fresh air being born again,” Brattain told the Baptist Message.
She also said she was excited “to be surrounded by family and friends” to celebrate her baptism.
“I can’t wait to see what plans God has for me in the future,” Brattain added.
Brattain was one of 62 students who made decisions to follow Christ in 2021. Twenty-five of those were baptized last year, 22 are awaiting baptism and the remaining 15 are being discipled about baptism.
Most of the decisions took place during summer camp and a “Disciple Now” weekend, but the student ministry also reaped spiritual fruit at a Wednesday night event in October that featured former American Ninja Warrior contestant Jared Greer. Despite an unexpected storm and a loss of power, the Holy Spirit moved 21 of the 170 students in the crowd to accept Christ.
“God worked in such an incredible way,” Yates said. “We had been praying for a harvest for so long. It was a joy to see God at work.”
Yates said the spiritual renewal was reflected in the students’ newfound passion for reaching friends for Christ at school.
“Some of our kids got saved and then the excitement blew up to where they were sharing Christ with their friends and seeing them accept Christ,” Yates said. “It’s my prayer that kids get saved and they reach their family with the testimony of their changed lives.”
The movement among the students comes as Maplewood First Baptist continues to overcome the multiple calamities of the coronavirus pandemic and two hurricanes.
Hurricanes Laura and Delta leveled a two-story building that also hosted Sunday school classrooms and a Christian school. The back wall of the worship center also was destroyed, but the congregation has continued to meet in the facility while the repairs are being made.
The weekday school and Sunday school classes are meeting in other buildings on campus, and construction on a new facility is expected to begin in the spring.
Pastor Jeremy Blocker said he is grateful for his congregation’s unwavering faith through disaster after disaster, and for God’s supernatural ways.
“One cool thing is we can trace this movement in the youth group to a couple of youth inviting their friends to a Wednesday night gathering in our student ministry,” Blocker said. “Their friends got saved and invited other friends. Many of them got saved and the cycle has continued to this day.
“What Laura and Delta took away, we are viewing as a gift,” Blocker continued, “because we have been able to plan for the future instead of rebuilding for the past.”