"Hurry, we need more chairs!" exclaimed Tom Russell, Butte Church member, as he recruited members to help him due to the overflow of visitors lined up for registration. The joy and energy of these eager members to accommodate the interest of the local community suggested what the early apostolic church must have experienced when God blessed their faith by following up the work of sowing with a public crusade on the day of Pentecost.
Nearly 70 visitors coming on opening night to a church of 15 active members was enough to set the church on fire. After the first week in the local fire hall, the event transferred to the church, with 51 visitors continuing to attend along with excited members.
Lance Elias, Butte Church head elder, says, "We've never seen this kind of turnout and interest in this community before ... . It's inspiring."
Linda Barney attended every night after she received the flyer in the mail. She was scheduled to be on vacation but experienced an overwhelming conviction to put her plans on hold so she could attend the seminar. Picking up the phone to invite her friend Angela, she learned her friend had received the same flyer and was calling to invite Barney. They both decided to commit together from start to finish. "The truth was so clear and powerful, it has changed my life," says Barney. Both she and Angela were excited to be baptized together and find a new church family with which to enjoy their renewed faith.
Donna Bacon, Butte Church evangelism coordinator, introduced a unique method of reaching out to the younger community. Prior to the series, Bacon advertised at the local university an evaluation panel of young men and women to attend 10 nights of the series for $150. The students were required to fill out nightly evaluation forms of their personal thoughts on the messages and overall opinions of the series. As the series progressed, so did the impact the gospel had on these young evaluators. Out of six students, all six remained with the meetings until the end, and all were baptized and joyfully joined the Adventist church family.
Due to several abusive relationships, Patti Ward had became an alcoholic and tried several programs to overcome her struggle. When she finally experienced the power of the gospel, Ward was freed from her addiction. Many more testimonies of changed lives could be given from this series. At its conclusion, the Lord blessed the Butte Church with 16 baptisms and eight more committed to attending a new believers class led by Elias.
If there is any doubt about the effectiveness of public evangelism, Pentecost should be a reminder of God's willingness to bring the harvest if the church is willing to be a channel by doing its part in proclaiming the good news of His soon return. Just ask Butte.