1,000-plus professions of faith reported at Conway revival

A revival meeting has turned into a spiritual awakening for a coastal South Carolina community, resulting in more than 1,000 professions of faith.

Langston Baptist Church in Conway planned a four-day youth-led revival to begin April 15, led by evangelist Tyler Blue, 21, of Highways and Hedges Tent Ministry in Lancaster. In the time since, the church has experienced a spiritual awakening that has extended to people in the surrounding community. Revival services will continue to be held through May 5. As of April 30, 1,083 salvations have been reported.

“My eyes have ached to see this all my life, and I thought I’d die before I saw it,” said Hampton Drum, pastor of Langston Church. “It’s amazing to see our auditorium packed wall-to-wall with young people, and they are coming in an hour and a half before it starts just to get a seat.”

Norman Abernathy, who serves as interim youth director, described it as “a movement like I’ve never seen in my lifetime. Our church will never be the same after this.”

A youth ministry volunteer suggested that Abernathy consider booking the evangelist who, at age 21, could likely connect with the Langston Church students and others from the community that the church hoped to reach. He describes Conway as a smaller, modest country town, perhaps most widely recognized as being on the way to Myrtle Beach. So when about 170 showed up in the church’s student center for the first night of revival, it seemed to be a good turnout.

“I call Tyler Blue the ‘lean, mean preaching machine.’ We had 17 salvations the very first night and, within days, we packed out the student center. It was growing faster than we thought it could. It was an amazing thing.”

Services were moved into Langston Church’s sanctuary, which seats 2,500. Abernathy said that 1,200 people were in attendance one week into the revival, and now they are nearing capacity in the sanctuary each night. Services begin at 6:30 p.m. with worship, and Blue begins preaching around 8 p.m. Response cards indicate that people from about 100 different churches have attended services, including one group that drove more than seven hours to attend the revival.

Blue travels with his wife in a small RV. As the end of the initial revival time period approached, Blue told Abernathy he would not leave while God was still moving. The couple has remained in Conway, and Blue continues to preach during the services each night. He was also invited to speak in school assemblies where additional salvations occurred, and school representatives have told the church about the changes they’ve seen in students’ lives because of the revival.

Drum has seen youth in the church become engaged and connected in worship and others becoming emboldened to share their faith. “A deaf child was in the service Sunday night. And, without the help of an interpreter, he felt the Holy Spirit on his heart, came forward, and got saved. When that was announced, the young people jumped to their feet and applauded,” Drum said.

The stories of spiritual awakening and life-change continue to pour in from the community. Norman’s wife, Sherri Abernathy, spoke with a teenager contemplating suicide but gave her life to the Lord instead, and another who had not been to church for two years. That teen said she and her sister prayed to receive Christ and were baptized, and then the very next day her sister was killed in a drunk-driving accident. Paralyzed with grief, the teenager refused to go back to church but was looking for hope.

Abernathy asked the girl if her sister would want her to be in church, and she said yes. “The girl had tried drugs but wanted a different life, and now she’s decided to come back to church. This time has been truly amazing. It’s almost like there’s a canopy in the sanctuary, and God is above us. As these young people are praising Him, He’s raining down on them, changing lives, one after another,” Abernathy said.

Church member Terry Jordan describes the atmosphere during the revival services as electric. “My heart is overflowing with joy. Youth are coming to the altar each night. It’s overwhelming. This county desperately needs revival,” she said.

Norman Abernathy said he’s excited to hear stories coming from the schools and to see photos of students praying together for the revival. “One teenager said he hadn’t accepted the Lord because ‘a seat in hell was waiting on him,’ but several nights ago he came and got saved. I really believe that when this comes to an end, if there is a time for people to come and tell their stories, it would be the kind of thing they write movies about,” he said.

Langston Church live-streams the revival services through its website, www.langstonbaptist.com, and all of the previous services held in the sanctuary are accessible there. A local teacher told Abernathy his students wanted to play something they heard Blue say one night at the revival as part of their lesson for an elective Bible class. After the teacher played the particular section, the class asked to continue watching. In his sermon, Blue asked participants in the sanctuary to turn around and kneel in the church pews. The teacher told Abernathy his students also responded to the video’s message, quietly turning and kneeling in front of their classroom chairs.

“We’ll never know this side of heaven all the ways that this revival has impacted lives,” Abernathy said.

But what Langston Church members can see are entire families receiving Christ and being baptized together, a 77-year-old woman becoming a believer, and students on the baseball team talking about revival as they sit in the dugout. One church member received more than 7,000 “likes” after live-streaming a revival service through Facebook. Members of the community are noticing changes in the schools, in homes and in other churches, as well.

“My prayer is that the glory of the Lord would show in such a way that it would stream from the top of our church and be a beacon to the entire county, so that they could hear about the one who loves them the most,” Sherry Abernathy said.

Drum said, “We’re seeing a revival when we least expected, and in a way that we least expected. The only explanation is that it’s a move of God. If you could see 68 pastors from churches in our community at the altar weeping over kids, ministering to and loving each other … this is not a Langston revival, it’s a Jesus revival.”

— Julia Bell writes for the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

2 thoughts on “1,000-plus professions of faith reported at Conway revival

  1. I’ve been and it was something to see. Really really great. Our two teens and our 11yr old is still talking about it.

  2. Praise God! He is still in the soul saving business. Praying for this to sweep across our entire nation.

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