Hundreds of youth turned out for the biggest and last night of the Sandhills Go Tell Crusade on Wednesday, held at Richmond Senior High School’s Raider Stadium in Rockingham.
As the sun set, youth from all over the county and from other counties, filed into the stadium to hear the message of the gospel told by members of the Go Tell Ministry and crusader Rick Gage.
“We are so excited that you are here,” said Chuck Sullivan of the Go Tell team over the loud speakers. Cheering from the crowd echoed back.
Sullivan stood on a stage in the field facing the stands that team members estimated were holding 3,500 people on the final night of the crusade that began on Sunday. Also on the stage were members of the Go Tell team, ministers, task force members and youth ministers. A band was also set up on stage.
The night began with fun for kids, with the crowd wave, two scholarship give-aways, and a bicycle and skateboard raffle. Worship songs were sung and prayers were said while everyone inside Raider Stadium bowed their heads in unison. Some lifted up their hands while others called out, “Amen.”
Thad Ussery, co-chair of the executive task force that headed the organization and outreach of the Sandhills Go Tell Crusade, expressed his gratitude for those who have worked with him over the past year to put the event together. He gave his special thanks to God.
“We couldn’t have had better weather all week,” said Ussery. “I prayed to God it wouldn’t rain and I believed it, and you exercised your faith, too. This took a lot of teamwork and tonight is the climax. We wanted and prayed to fill this stadium and the stadium is full.”
Ussery went on to introduce members of the team that helped put the event together, and explained how each person had been integral in helping.
“The seat you’re sitting in has been prayed over, so if it gets hot, God is going to use you tonight,” said Ussery.
Before ending his speech, Ussery spoke of the crusader himself.
“I have grown to love this fellow,” said Ussery about Gage. “He is a man that loves the Lord and he loves you and he loves when people come to love the Lord.”
Ussery explained that the strong numbers of youth turn-out were driven by an appearance in 11 different schools over the course of three days. Outcast BMX bikers came to the schools to put on stunt shows, but also spoke to the youth about the importance of making the right decision, and about values.
“I have hope and faith in youth today,” said Jeanne Newton, who went along to the schools in Richmond and Montgomery counties. “I’m fired up about the youth of America. We got really good responses in the middle schools.”
Newton assisted the task force with social media, and created a Twitter account and a Facebook page for the crusade, which was updated each night with fresh pictures, and testimony was shared by some who visited the page.
The Go Tell Ministry worked to record the number of people who as a result of the crusade committed their life to Jesus Christ. A tent was set up on the far end of the Raider field, with tables and chairs and counselors who waited for the saved to come and share their commitment.
“The number of saved has been recorded each night and we averaged about 150 per night,” said Newton on Wednesday just hours before the final crusade. “There have been about 570 saved so far. Tonight there could be more than 3,000 youth. This crusade isn’t going to end tonight.”
Newton meant that when a person is saved and heads to the counselors in the tent, a contract is established so that the counselor and other ministry members can follow up with the person. This helps reinforce the commitment, explained Newton. She described a teenager who had been to a crusade, and had given his life to Jesus. However, shortly thereafter, the teen was killed in a car accident, due to being intoxicated.
“We looked to see if there had been any follow-up, and there hadn’t been,” said Newton.
Go Tell Ministries gave a plaque to Ussery and Cathy Wilson, both co-chairs of the task force, for their efforts in coordinating what some are saying has been the only crusade in North Carolina in years.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.