August 12, 2003
CALIFORNIA – Moniteau County Baptists say they are pleased with the first attempt to stage a county-wide evangelistic crusade.
"Our best count the first night was 900, and we had between 1,500 and 1,700 attending on Friday night," said Frank Whitney, pastor of Lebanon Baptist Church, McGirk, and a co-coordinator of the effort. "Our attendance the last night was about 800, so we feel pretty good about the overall attendance when the largest town in the county is about 4,000."
Advertised as a "Celebration for Christ," the three-day crusade featured preaching by Vance Pitman, pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Hope, Nev., and a Friday night appearance by Randall Cunningham, a former all-pro quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League.
"We had six decisions for Christ, and there were also some Hispanic salvations," Whitney said. Moniteau County has a growing Hispanic population because of employment opportunities in the local area.
Cunningham told the Friday night crowd that he grew up in Santa Barbara, Calif., attending a Baptist church, but didn’t know anything about a relationship with Christ. "It wasn’t until 1987 that I was born again," Cunningham said.
"I am here in Missouri to bring glory to Him. I give God all the glory. It’s not about me. God wants to do something special in our lives that will bring glory to Him."
Pitman’s message Friday night was based on John 3:17-18.
"God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world," Pitman said. "He sent Him so that the world through Him might be saved. This was the reason for His coming."
Pitman explained that "saved" means rescued. "Jesus came for the express purpose that I might be rescued," he added. "He came with a divine purpose."
Cunningham remained at the Moniteau County Fairgrounds, site of the crusade, long after the closing prayer. "There’s one thing I would like to say to Randall Cunningham’s credit," Whitney said. "He stayed as long as people wanted to stay. He prayed with the people, he talked with them, he signed their things. He was marvelous!"
Whitney said Moniteau County churches will probably wait a few years before they try another crusade of this magnitude.
"But we are interested in doing something evangelistically each year, and we hope to involve more and more churches each year," he said.