Small churches can be revived. There was a special joy and excitement in the Eufaula, Ala., Church on Sabbath, June 22, 2019. Christopher Atkinson, pastor, and Don Korenko, elder, went over the final details for the baptisms of Barry Rivers, mayor of Fort Gaines, Ga., and Ralph Carlton, Rivers’ Bible study partner. This baptism was particularly meaningful because it signaled the continued revival that God has germinated in this small congregation and the surrounding district.
The revival began when Atkinson and his wife, Claudine Atkinson, Ph.D., accepted a Macedonian call with prayer and fasting to join the east Alabama district of Phenix City, Eufaula, and Uchee Pines. In answering this call, they determined to follow God’s design and plan for the ministry in this area.
In each church, they found faithful, praying members who loved the Lord and their churches, but who struggled with intentional planning and execution of meaningful and sustainable community outreach and evangelism. With the support of the members, the Atkinsons were inspired to begin the process of renewal. They trusted the Lord as He showed how to institute and produce an evangelistic culture and vision; this was stimulated by consistent fasting and prayer, city-felt needs ministries, and fellowship. In the throes of the transition, they trusted God for a blessing and approached every obstacle knowing that God was leading. They met regularly with members and leaders, and crafted their short- and long-term goals in keeping with the local vision and mission, and then implemented workable and sustainable strategies to accomplish their goals under the mantra “Organize, Mobilize, Evangelize.”
The Lord has graciously multiplied their feeble efforts. During this relatively short time, they have witnessed a transformation through the Holy Spirit. The district has had more than 100 baptisms, and their smallest congregation bought a $2.8 million dollar church building for a fraction of the cost, while simultaneously increasing tithes by more than 90 percent in the same year.
This purchase took place while expanding and renovating the Phenix City Church, doubling its attendance, and preparing for building a new church and community development center for the Uchee Pines community and congregation.
Atkinson noted that “although the church’s faith has been encouraged by these indicators, our greatest evidence of revival is apparent in the maintenance of a year-round culture of evangelism and community involvement. Our small churches are privileged to serve our communities through ministries to city leaders, citywide days of prayer, teachers’ health appreciation weeks for all public schools in our city, annual back-to-school bashes, citywide health expos, food and clothing distribution centers, weekly radio ministry, needs-oriented small groups ministries, and mass literature distribution.
“It’s from this that we are rejoicing in God for the baptisms of Mayor Barry Waters and Mr. Ralph Carlton. Our churches are still in the process of revival, but, no longer declining, they’re discipling; no longer cold, but bold; and no longer stagnant, but persistent in the preaching of God’s three angel messages of Revelation 14:6-12.”
Gulf States | November 2019