Riverfront tent revival brings ‘holy chaos’ as dozens come to Christ

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OWENSBORO, Ky. – They just kept coming and coming and coming.

Jamus Edwards, pastor of Pleasant Valley Community Church, called it “holy chaos” as the Revival on the River was reaching an epic conclusion.

“We sang, I preached the gospel, we gave the time of response and the Lord just moved powerfully,” said the Owensboro pastor.

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They baptized “65 to 70,” Edwards said, admitting they were coming forward so fast it was hard to track them all. Counselors were available and they brought 300 baptism outfits – gym shorts and t-shirts – on a night of great expectation last Friday.

“Somebody counted like 64 but there were some on the side of the stage” that may have been missed, he said.

“It was chaotic, in a holy way. It was holy chaos. The spirit of God was there. I never heard more ‘Amens!’ in my life. So many tears. A number of people were saved and then baptized. Some came out of addiction, and some saw their children get baptized.”

The tent revival was planned for nearly a year, and the church set up 1,230 chairs in and around the tent. Most of them were filled, Edwards said.

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“But even outside beyond that was packed with people bringing their own lawn chairs,” he said.

It was a Friday night that Owensboro will likely never forget. Edwards said he’d never seen anything like it but wishes they could have stayed for at least another night.

“Our only regret – and I don’t know if that’s the right word – we wish we would have kept going multiple nights,” he said. “I don’t know that God was done the other night. If we would have come back the next night, we’d had another crowd like that. I hope we didn’t quench the Spirit.”

The pastor said if and when they do it again, they will try to do multiple nights.

Edwards said the church has been praying for revival in the area for nine months. “When you proclaim the gospel, God is going to do something. Why should we be surprised? It’s in His character to be merciful.”

The two-hour service wrapped up around 9 p.m., he said, with dozens who were baptized lined up arm in arm in the front. They had counselors who recorded information, including phone numbers for follow-up conversations, but the response overwhelmed them.

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“There was such a spirit of excitement and enthusiasm,” Edwards said. “We had people who bypassed the whole system although we tried to keep it in order. The Baptists looked pretty Pentecostal that night.”

Edwards preached out of Luke 14 on the parable of the great banquet when Jesus said to “go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. Any and everybody is welcome in the kingdom of God,” he told them, “nobody is beyond the saving grace of Jesus.”

The tent revival was the vision they saw, and the riverfront – the epicenter of excitement in Owensboro – was the right place. “I highly recommend other churches to do it,” Edwards said. “It works, and it’d be my joy to speak to this if anybody is interested.”

Edwards said it was an incredible night with a perfect ending.

“My favorite part of the night was after everybody who was going to be baptized got baptized, we had them all come down to the front and they lined up arms around each other,” Edwards said. “I had my wife come up on the stage and Annie prayed God’s blessings on them, and then we sang ‘I Saw the Light’ and ‘I’ll Fly Away.’ Everybody was dancing and clapping and shouting…I was just on cloud nine watching these lives being changed.”

Written by Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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