By Will Hall, Baptist Message executive editor
GILBERT, La. (LBM)— It is not often that a revival begins with evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit already in sight. But the annual Bill Britt four-day event with the First Baptist Church in Gilbert began with 19 baptisms, reflecting transformed hearts before the first word was preached.
Pastor Bubba Ezell told the Baptist Message that lives began to be changed after the congregation committed to showing greater respect for the value of one soul.
He said he returned from the 2023 Louisiana Baptist Evangelism Conference in January and told his congregation, “I would sell this building for one soul. I would give it all up for a soul.”
He said it was the challenge of “How far are we willing to go?” that created a spark in the church.
Ezell emphasized this point by sharing about a particular example within their Amazing Grace addiction recovery ministry, which has about 30 members.
“I started asking them to witness to one person a week, and to write it down,” he explained. “Three of our guys led people to Christ.” Other things began happening and before long, he said, “We started getting our hearts right with God about the value of a soul.”
“The Holy Spirit is moving among the members of our church, and it’s been that way for six weeks,” Ezell added.
He offered other instances of how revival among the saved has led to an awakening among the lost.
“People are getting their marriages back together. Then their kids get saved,’ he said. “Sunday, a lady got saved when one of the deacons led her to the Lord.”
“I got down on my knees to speak to a little kid dressed in cowboy boots in the front row,” he continued. “He acted like he was shooting at me and then hid his hand behind him. I stuck my hand out and said, ‘Let me pray for you, young man.’ His mother was with him, and I could hear her start to sob. I said, ‘Ma’am, are you okay?’ and she said, ‘I need to get saved.’”
Ezell said the result of this renewed focus by the congregation on the value of one soul is that someone has repented for salvation each week.
“We had a guy saved at 5:30 this morning,” Ezell said during the phone interview, describing how the man came to grips with the fact that he was a sinner and needed a Savior. “I told Brother Bill, ‘This is good.’”
Importantly, he underscored that the church begins discipleship immediately after a person declares Christ is Lord and was especially detailed about the program of spiritual health and growth for the men enrolled in Amazing Grace:
“Monday night, another local pastor works with them. Tuesday is testimony night. We have people from all walks of life. Wednesday night, I teach them discipleship. Thursday night, we do Celebrate Recovery which walks them through steps of discipleship. Friday, we send them to another church to participate in ‘Parting Waters.’ Saturday night, we have a lady who sits down and teaches them in specific steps in discipleship. She is 84 years old, and she studies the Bible more than any person I know. Sunday, of course, we have Sunday school. Also, six days each week I teach them Therapon, which is a belief therapy.
It’s some stuff I learned and took from the Bible. I teach them every day at 4:30 a.m.”
As for the four-day revival, 19 new believers walked into the baptistery, March 12, with six more scheduled to be baptized.
Moreover, by the end of the revival, March 15, 20 persons had professed Christ as Savior and seven had surrendered their lives to ministry.
It was an amazing outpouring of God’s love through brokenness and forgiveness, according to Evangelist Bill Britt.
“It was a powerful week,” Britt told the Baptist Message. “People were saved each service, and several were called to preach! Even after the services were seemingly over, people were still worshipping and going to the altar.
“I never get tired of seeing people getting saved, week after week,” he exclaimed. “In the last two weeks I have seen 84 people come to Jesus! There is a fresh wind from Heaven blowing across His Church.”
As for FBC Gilbert, it all began with recognizing that each soul matters to God. EPILOG: Revival and awakening continue to manifest in FBC Gilbert. On March 19, the congregation witnessed seven baptisms, two additional professions of faith and one more commitment to ministry.