By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
DERIDDER, La. (LBM) – A spiritual awakening is gaining momentum among the students at Westview Baptist Church.
Since November 2021, 17 students have decided to follow Christ at the Deridder congregation. Seven of those have been baptized since Sept. 18, 2022, and another seven are awaiting baptism in a church that averages 115 in Sunday worship.
Most of the decisions took place at a 2022 summer camp held at the Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center in Woodworth and at the 2021 Youth Evangelism Celebration in Alexandria.
“Our church is seeing a revival because of our students,” Pastor Jason Hoychick told the Baptist Message. “They are inviting their friends and some of them, along with their families, are getting saved. It’s creating an excitement in our congregation, who are experiencing first-hand that if you witness to your friends and invite them to come, you can reach many for Christ.”
Meanwhile a renewed emphasis on discipleship is helping students grow deeper in their relationships with Jesus.
Hoychick said the primary vehicle for discipleship has been a Wednesday night Bible study. However, he added that students have grown through other opportunities such as a Sunday evening question and answer time on various topics. In the fall that forum drew 13 youth for the two-and-a-half-hour event and produced one profession of faith.
“Teenagers are so hungry to understand God’s Word that they would give up a Sunday night to come to discuss biblical and spiritual matters – even though there were no food or games involved,” Hoychick said. “I’m telling you, God is doing something special here.”
Keith Bell, WBC minister of youth, has been amazed of the students’ desire to grow deeper in their faith.
“It’s been absolutely amazing to witness the transformation of our students,” Bell said. “To see them continue to ask questions, so they can have meat and not just live on spiritual milk, is so encouraging to a youth leader and to our church. Our students continue to see their friends get saved and that fires them up to keep living for Jesus.”
Hoychick said he is blessed to serve at a church that invests in the next generation and believes God has greater things in store for Westview Baptist in 2023.
“I have pastored 22 years, but never have quit youth ministry,” Hoychick said. “That love has not changed and I’m thankful we have leaders like Keith Bell and his wife, DeAnna.
“Our teenagers get it and are living out how we as Christians are supposed to,” he continued. “Churches need to wake up and learn they can learn from their youth groups. If we invite people and are excited about what we offer, they will come.
“There is not a perfect teenager or one that has figured out everything about Jesus,” he said. “But they know God loves them and offers them a peace. If we all had the same passion to reach our friends that this youth group does, our world would be a very different place.”