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JACKSON, Miss. — Nearly 1,400 people heeded evangelist Rick Gage’s appeal to commit their lives to Christ in a Mississippi crusade attended by some 17,000 people over four days. The evangelistic crusade concluded Wednesday night with an estimated 10,000 people packed shoulder to shoulder in an open-air amphitheater.

SUWANEE, Ga. — More than 4,500 locations will open to collect Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts for the Samaritan’s Purse project during national collection week Nov. 13-20. Operation Christmas Child has been collecting and delivering shoebox gifts — filled with school supplies, personal care items and fun toys — to children worldwide since 1993.

SNELLVILLE, Ga. — Georgia Baptists will hear sermons from an array of pastors during this year's annual meeting set for Nov. 12-14 at the Church on Main in Snellville. Johnson Ferry Baptist Church Pastor Clay Smith will be first up at the three-day meeting of the Georgia Baptist Convention, the state’s largest religious organization with some 1.4 million people.

HOMERVILLE, Ga. — State Sen. Russ Goodman and his mother, Donna Kane, are safely back in southeast Georgia after having their Holy Land pilgrimage cut short by the gruesome Hamas attack on Israel last weekend. “It was quite an ordeal,” said Goodman, who returned to Homerville on Friday, six days after Hamas militants staged a surprise attack that killed more than 1,300 Israelis, most of them civilians.

SNELLVILLE, Ga. — Three preachers with strong evangelistic credentials will speak at the Georgia Baptist Preaching Conference set for Nov. 13 at the Church on Main in Snellville. The lineup includes Jerry Vines, an elder statesmen in the Southern Baptist Convention who served 60 years as a pastor, including at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla., which, at the time, was the third largest church in the SBC.

SNELLVILLE, Ga. — The next generation of Georgia church leaders are now growing up in the state’s congregations, awaiting a spiritual nudge to step forward. So says Georgia Baptist Convention President Josh Saefkow who has built an annual meeting of the state’s largest religious group around the theme Calling Out the Called.

SUWANEE, Ga. — One of Mark Marshall’s greatest keepsakes is a notebook filled with letters from church members expressing their love and appreciation for him and his wife. “It was given to me 26 years ago, and I still have it,” said Marshall, a longtime Southern Baptist pastor now serving as assistant executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

LITTLE MOUNTAIN, S.C. — When wounded military personnel recovering in the Soldier Recovery Unit at Fort Stewart, Ga., are physically able, they venture into the great outdoors courtesy of a big-hearted veteran from South Carolina who knows the value of fresh air and sunshine to the body and soul. Chuck McAlister, who was stationed in Georgia more than 40 years ago as a young Army officer, welcomes injured soldiers onto a 200-acre sanctuary at Little Mountain, S.C., where they can get away from the sterile confines of hospital rooms and experience nature at its finest.

DULUTH, Ga. — A metro Atlanta pastor will lead the Georgia Baptist Education Commission, which provides scholarships to college students and monitors campus trends on behalf of the 1.4 million-member Georgia Baptist Convention. Tim Akin, pastor at First Baptist Church of Douglasville, was elected chairman of the commission on Tuesday in meeting that highlighted an ongoing spiritual movement not only on the state’s three Georgia Baptist-affiliated campuses but also in the Baptist Collegiate Ministries operating on public universities.

BAXLEY, Ga. — Hundreds of people streamed out of the bleachers at Jimmy Swain Stadium on Wednesday, responding to a call from evangelist Rick Gage to get right with God. In a scene that harkened back to  evangelistic crusades of yesteryear, they crowded around the platform where the man dubbed the “small-town Billy Graham” had just wrapped up  a fiery gospel sermon that warned of judgment for unrepentant sinners and promised eternal life for those willing to turn from their sins and commit their lives to Christ.

MOUNT VERNON, Ga. — An estimated 150 students made spiritual decisions during a chapel service at Brewton-Parker College on Tuesday in a scene that President Steve Echols described as amazing. Between 60 and 80 of the students made first-time salvation decisions while others rededicated their lives to Christ. “The Holy Spirit was moving in a way I have never seen before,” said Echols, a longtime preacher and educator. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I have seen some marvelous things of God. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more precious than this.”

VALDOSTA, Ga. — Two weeks after Hurricane Adalia walloped south Georgia, doing some $35 million in property damage and knocking out electricity across a large swath of the region, Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief crews finished the cleanup on Saturday and headed for home. Disaster Relief Director Dwain Carter said chainsaw-wielding volunteers cleared away hundreds of fallen trees from homes and prepared more than 30,000 meals for residents of the Valdosta area.

BAXLEY, Ga. — Christians in the Baxley area were preparing for an evangelistic crusade when a revival broke out. Some 600 people had gathered for a pre-crusade youth rally on Wednesday evening. Nearly 300 of those made decisions for Christ. “The key to the success last night was the people of God have been praying for months for this crusade,” said Rick Gage, the Georgia-based evangelist who leads GO TELL Ministries, in an interview Thursday. “This area is ripe for a great harvest, and I think we’re going to see a move of God.”

SNELLVILLE, GA. — With several first responders in his family, Bethany Baptist Church Executive Pastor Rick Kirkland is privy to the needs of police officers, including, well, their privy needs. Turns out police officers need restrooms where they can safeguard their firearms, tasers, pepper spray, handcuffs and assorted other items attached to their duty belts.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — Fayetteville pastor Josh Saefkow will seek a second term as president of the Georgia Baptist Convention with hopes of keeping churches focused on sharing the gospel. Saefkow, elected last November, said the position has given him “a front seat to see all that the Lord is doing in Georgia.” “I have loved seeing how God is moving all over our state, and I have loved being with our pastors, our associational missionaries, our Mission Board staff,” he said.

VALDOSTA, Ga. — In the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia, residents of south Georgia have been turning to Christ for hope, comfort and salvation. “When people get into these kinds of life-or-death situations, they start thinking about their own mortality,” said Bob Sprinkel, a longtime volunteer with Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief. “When a hurricane hits, people need hope, and Jesus is that hope.” Disaster Relief volunteers reported that nine people had made salvation decisions in the Valdosta area as of Monday.

VALDOSTA, Ga. — Lt. Col. Scott Smith’s regular job is flying F-15s for the U.S. Air Force, but during the long Labor Day weekend he was manning a chainsaw for one of the Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief crews helping Valdosta residents clean up in the wake of Hurricane Idalia. “I don’t know that I have a whole lot of the spiritual gifts the Bible talks about, but God has given me a strong back,” said Smith, a member of Central Baptist Church in Warner Robins. “I feel like manual labor is one way I can serve.” People from all walks of life have joined forces through the Disaster Relief ministry to help hurricane survivors in the Valdosta area, where thousands of trees were toppled by Idalia’s winds.

VALDOSTA, Ga. — In Georgia’s hurricane zone, the long Labor Day weekend has been no walk in the park for Disaster Relief crews who are volunteering their time to help storm victims. Sweat soaks their conspicuous yellow shirts as they balance on sweltering rooftops, sawing away fallen trees that had been toppled by Hurricane Idalia on Wednesday.

VALDOSTA, Ga. — Cleanup is underway in south Georgia after a pummeling blow by Hurricane Idalia knocked trees onto homes and downed powerlines, leaving thousands without electricity in the summer heat. A chainsaw crew from Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief spent Friday removing a fallen tree from the Baptist Collegiate Ministries building at Valdosta State University. Others prepared meals for storm victims.

VALDOSTA, Ga. — Hurricane Idalia arrived in Georgia as a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph Wednesday morning, bringing heavy rains, toppling trees, knocking out power, and causing lowland flooding. First responders in southern Georgia used boats to rescue some residents stranded by localized flooding. Utility crews worked throughout the day to restore power in hard-hit areas.

JEFFERSON CITY,  Mo. – The Executive Board of the Missouri Baptist Convention has named former Georgia pastor Wes Fowler executive director-treasurer. Fowler succeeds John Yeats, who steps aside after 12 years of leading the network of 1,750 self-governing churches through challenging times and to higher levels of cooperative ministry.

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Dr. Brad Whitt stood waist-deep in a pool Sunday evening, sending out ripples with each new believer he dipped beneath the water’s mirrored surface. Hundreds of people from Abilene Baptist Church had gathered at Camp Lakeside to see 21 people baptized in the sun-warmed waters.

SUWANEE, Ga. — Georgia Baptists, who give millions of dollars each year to reach the lost around the world, will focus their financial resources on their home state in the coming month. September has been set aside as the Mission Georgia emphasis month, meaning churches will spent the next four weeks encouraging members to get behind an effort to reach the state’s 7 million unchurched residents with the gospel.

ATLANTA, Ga. — Standing-room-only crowds of students have been flocking to Baptist College Ministries on university campuses across Georgia as the new academic year gets underway. One of the largest gatherings involved 450 international students who gathered at Georgia Tech for  worship and a meal provided by First Baptist Church of Woodstock, said Beverly Skinner, collegiate ministry catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — A study from Lifeway Research has found that 52% of American Protestant churchgoers say their church teaches God will bless them if they give more money to their church and charities. That’s an increase from 38% of churchgoers surveyed in a similar study in 2017.

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