The Lakeway Area made it to the history books recently. GO TELL’s Lakeway Area Crusade was the most successful in the history of GO TELL Ministries.
According to the Lakeway Area GO TELL website, more than 800 decisions for Christ were witnessed, including 369 first-time decisions to follow Jesus and more than 500 recommitments.
“Over the last four nights, we were able to give Rick Gage and his ministry the largest offering of any crusade (that GO TELL has done),” Crusade Chairman Dr. Dean Haun said.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a community where the local newspaper ran a front page article every day about an event like this,” “I’ve never been in a place like that.”
Morristown’s fundraising banquet for the Lakeway Area Crusade was the largest fundraising banquet in the history of Hamblen County, Haun said.
“We raised more money in one night than any other event in Hamblen County, $85,000. If it had been me trying to do that, we would have had this at Fred Miller Park in the ampatheater. But God laid it upon the heart of a businessman of the Lakeway Area, David Wild, back in December. The banquet went so well. We were hoping for 60 table sponsors, hoping to sell 500-600 tickets and raise $50,000. We sold 106 table sponsors at $500 apiece, plus the sale of the tickets and sold 944 tickets to the banquet. We had to have half of the banquet at the First Presbyterian Church gym and the other half at First Baptist Church fellowship hall and the rally (in the First Baptist sanctuary) that needed to raise to do this. Much of this money was raised before we got to publicize the crusade.”
Wild also helped with the rest of the crusade.
Greg Fleenor helped with details and behind the scenes. Also, Jeanie Myers, Haun’s assistant, put in a lot of hours. Bonnie Frazee helped with logistics and T-shirt sales.
Esco Jarnagin, sheriff of Hamblen County, was in charge of security. There were 75 men and women from eight different law enforcement agencies involved with security for the crusade. “They did a bomb sweep with the bomb dog every day of the crusade,” Haun said. “They were interacting with FBI intelligence of Knoxville to make sure that there was nothing nefarious going on behind the scenes. They also had a drone flying over the facility making sure everything was OK The Tennessee Highway Patrol took care of all of the traffic that was out on U.S. Highway 25E and Interstate 81.
“Tennessee Department of Transportation put up flashing signs along the interstate and U.S. 25E. Jefferson County Rescue Squad helped with parking. It was incredible the number of people who came behind us and help us,” Haun said.
The Hispanic churches also came aboard for the crusade, broadcasting it on radio in Spanish in several countries, Haun said.
“I received reports that people in other countries were hearing the Gospel through our crusade effort,” Haun said.
“I don’t know as chairman of this crusade what I would have done if I had to invent all of this,” Haun said. “(The GO TELL organization) already had a manual telling each team and each captain exactly what we needed to do and the process that needed to be followed. We’re working with the evangelism people for the Tennessee Baptist Evangelism Department right now. There is a lot of strategies to reach the big cities for Jesus, but what about the rural areas? We’re talking to them about seven or eight key places all over the state of Tennessee, rural areas like Morristown where we can talk to the movers and shakers of that area and they can have Rick and the team come in and do crusades in their area. I’m really excited about that.”
Joe Swann and Amy Henegar helped with the financial responsibilities.
At the final Wednesday night Youth Rally, there was a “mountain” of 300 empty pizza boxes after all were fed, Haun said.
Several prisoners from the Hamblen County Jail came out to the Great Smoky Mountains Expo Center starting on Saturday before the crusade began.
“The good news about that is that many of these men sitting in this room gave their lives to Jesus Christ,” Haun said. “Some of these guys have been baptized. We were so glad, honored and so grateful for their hard work. These guys worked from daylight to dark with a great attitude and spirit.”
The greatest thing that happened was when the Heavenly Father picked up a pen, dipped it in the blood of the lamb and wrote their names in the Book of Life. “It will never be erased,” Haun said.
“It’s fun giving God the glory,” Gage said. “Somebody asked me, ‘When can we do this again?’ I said you need to wait a few years. We want to come back. I was overwhelmed at the response of the young people who were in the building. There were more youth in the building (on the last night) than on the first night. It was all for the glory of God.
“Was it work? You’d better believe it. Paul told Timothy to work to bring others to Christ. That has been the main agenda since we came two years ago on that first visit. We said then there would be one goal, one aim, one vision: to reach every lost soul that we can for the glory of God. East Tennessee, you stepped up to the plate. We are so grateful for the hard work.”
Gage said the he wanted to see this replicated across the state and all over the country.