By Susan Mires
WILLARD – Healing and wholeness have occurred through a revival here at First Baptist Church.
“It was a phenomenal thing that took place,” Pastor Benny Gard said. “I sense a real genuine movement of God on our church.”
Being in full-time ministry since 1976, Gard said he has been involved in many revivals. “I have seen several saved, but this is the greatest in-house revival that I have ever been a part of,” he said.
Members of First Baptist shared testimonies of how God used the event to bring both conviction and restoration.
“It was about tearing down the barriers that were keeping us from our relationship with Christ,” said Darren Driskell, one of the members. “The revival allowed us to get beyond that. It truly allowed us to have a spiritual awakening that way.”
Several months ago, Gard contacted the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) to ask for prayer and resources for the church. He got in touch with Bob Loggins, prayer and spiritual awakening specialist with the convention. Loggins led a “Journey to Wholeness and Holiness” workshop March 13 at First Willard, then preached revival.
Janice Dodson and her husband, retired minister O.V. Dodson, have been members of the church for 14 years. She said the workshop, along with Gard’s work, prepared the church to enter into revival that turned out to be like no other.
“It gave us a great deal of hope for the future,” she said. “We felt free to love on one another.”
The revival, originally scheduled to go from Sunday through Wednesday, was extended through Thursday. First Baptist averages about 200 in weekly attendance. Two people made decisions for Christ, one joined the church and others made rededications. Gard said Loggins was a tool used by the Lord to deliver powerful sermons that spoke directly to their spiritual needs.
“The messages dealt with issues Baptist churches have. It touched people deeply,” he said.
Sunday evening following revival, more than 30 members shared testimonies of the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives. Several mentioned they were trying to control their tongue. One man rededicated his life while prayer walking even prior to the beginning of the workshop. Gard said healing has taken place in the congregation. In addition, excitement continues to build about growing spiritually and interest is renewed in a building program.
Driskell said the workshop and revival helped members to focus on God, which has led to sincere worship.
“It has lifted everyone back up and reminded us we need to minister not only in the congregation, but in our community,” he said. “If we get hung up on ourselves, we are ineffective in showing what a true Christian heart is.”
Following the revival, First Baptist began a six-week small group study with an emphasis on prayer and fasting.
“I’m looking forward to testimony time again of how the material has affected our lives and I really believe it will happen,” Gard said.
Loggins said the “Journey to Wholeness and Holiness” material grew out of his ministry as a pastor. It offers spiritual insights that resonate with believers who are coping with pain and discouragement.
“God humbles us, so that when God exalts us, we don’t think we did it,” Loggins said.
Gard encourages churches to consider the workshop and small group studies. He said the Biblical process outlined through the material can transform ministers and churches.
“I believe what’s happening here in the state is something that will catch fire,” he said.