High Day in Preston
1st November 2018
Sabbath 27 October was a special day in Preston and heaven as 24 precious souls were baptised in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the end of a two-week campaign-revival series.
This was the culmination of a year when Preston church embarked on a Reclamation and Retention programme. The whole church was engaged and various activities were organised for different age groups throughout the year. Overarching all this was the intercessory prayer ministry of the church, with the majority of the church members joining prayer groups.
The speaker for the revival-campaign series was the Spirit-filled evangelist Ray Patrick with a theme 'The Struggle is Real, but so is God' which coincided with the Preston church theme for 2018.
The revival series was nothing short of scintillating. The force of testimony came through compellingly as Pastor Ray nightly shared moving videos of how people overcame abuse, addiction, and other struggles, to find grace and healing through the mighty name of Jesus. The number of people deciding for baptism grew each day as the Word of God was shared nightly. Visitors kept coming back night after night; new visitors were attending each night; the young people were gripped by the presentation; the worship was lively and spiritual.
The charisma of Ray Patrick provided a medium for conveying powerful messages as to how God has intervened in people's lives: a recurring message was 'If God could do it for … He can do it for you'. People were clearly touched and moved by the messages they received. It was almost a nightly call for baptism, and more and more people decided to turn their lives around and commit to Jesus to a new life in Christ.
During the two weeks Pastor Ray made time to meet with the university and college students and teenagers where they discussed issues pertinent to the young people. He also joined local pastor Jeff Couzins to visit those who had decided for baptism.
One of the wonderful features of the revival was that non-members were bringing visitors. One such visitor was so touched that she brought her whole family to the following meetings, and on the final Sabbath, four members of the family committed their lives to Christ and asked for baptism.
Also, one member's husband, who himself was not a member, attended every meeting along with his ten-year-old daughter. The husband, who had previously attended church sporadically due to his other commitments, committed to baptism halfway through the revival series. It was a joy to his wife to see that, but an even greater joy was when her daughter also committed her life to Christ and asked for baptism a few days later.
The baptism service was conducted by local minister, Pastor Jeff Couzins. The greatest number of people he had previously baptised in one session was 12. Baptising 24 precious souls was a new experience for Pastor Jeff, and for Preston church. Preston City Mayor, Councillor Trevor Hart, attended the afternoon baptism programme, and delivered a wonderful message after the event to encourage those just baptised, and also to those gathered to witness the special occasion.
Pastor Jeff baptised 24 people including eight women, along with three children of one of the women; four men, along with a daughter of one of the men; three Pathfinders in their uniforms; two university students; and three people recommitting their lives to Christ (including an octogenarian).
In order to highlight the inclusive nature of baptism into Christ, Pastor Jeff invited family members to climb into the baptistry together. This included a father and daughter, two Pathfinder sisters, a married couple, and a mother and three of her children (one 23 and two teens). It may sound crowded, but only two candidates for baptism were in the water with Pastor Jeff at any one time. Everyone was baptised individually, stressing the individual nature of salvation.The day was a blessing to everyone, and as Paula said as she was about to be baptised, "The angels in heaven are rejoicing."
As the day drew to a close a visibly exhausted but very happy elder, Anita Chiumia, Preston church Personal Ministries leader, remarked "Today it felt like the Day of Pentecost. Pastor Ray was on fire for Jesus. Now we should ensure we preserve this precious harvest the Lord has given us."
I am sure the whole church shares these sentiments.