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"It Can't Be Done In This Age!"
When it comes to soul winning or building a large church in the Twentieth Century (now the Twenty-First), have you ever heard the statement in the above title made by a pastor, a dead "Christian" college professor, an evangelist, a radio "preacher," or read it in a "Christian" publication? If so, then that Christian brother, or writer is as backslidden as one can get; and he is a detriment to the cause of Christ (if he is even saved at all)!
Christians (and I use this term very loosely) who believe in "Lifestyle Evangelism" (like John MacArthur) and other non-confrontational soul winners, use these terms to justify their laziness and unconcern for the lost. They think that your smile will cause the lost to flock to you, and, like the Phillippian jailer, fall down at your feet and ask, "What must I do to be saved?" Now, folks, it just doesn't happen that way.
Luke 14:23: And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
Notice, this verse says that we are to go and get sinners; we are to "compel" them. According to Webster's Dictionary, compel means "To drive or urge with force, or irresistibly; to force; to constrain; to oblige; to necessitate, either by physical or moral force." That's pretty strong language! Sounds like that forbidden phrase the backslidden like to use: "Confrontational Evangelism!"
Now, I do not think the Lord had in mind that we are to take the sinner by the arm and drag him to church (although I'm sure He would rather we do that than stay home and watch television). Conviction and convincing is one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit. He convicts and converts the sinner. It is the Holy Spirit Who persuades men to repent, or change their minds about trusting in Jesus instead of trusting in themselves to get to Heaven.
Church History Repeats Itself!
Acts 2:41: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. This is one for Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
Not since Peter preached on the day of Pentecost has a New Testament church seen 3,000 people baptized in one day. . . until May 3, 1998.
I am not reporting only what I read in the July issue of Revival Fires! I was a part of it. I was there. I saw the crowds we had at the meetings I was a part of at a south Chicago housing project. This was only one example of the dozens of meetings that were held that day around Chicago and northwest Indiana. -Glen Morris
Dennis Corle's Interview With Pastor Jack Hyles
Dennis Corle is the publisher of Revival Fires!, one of the most prominent independent Baptist newspapers in the world. After our big day on May 3rd, Bro. Corle scheduled an interview with Bro. Hyles. The following is the text from the June issue of Revival Fires!
Bro. Corle reports:
On Sunday, May 3rd, 1998, First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana made history by breaking a record that has been held for 2,000 years. Since the events recorded in Acts chapter two, there is no record of any local church baptizing more than 3,000 convents in one day. But now there is!
Last week, Brother Hyles and I were in a meeting together in Georgia, and I was very interested in hearing about everything that happened on that Sunday, and especially all about how it was planned and organized, and all the hours of prayer and preparation. It's an amazing story!
People can say what they like, but I don't think you can work hard enough to produce those kinds of results without the hand of God. It took an act of God in answered prayer and moving on hearts and softening people to accomplish what God used First Baptist Church to do that day.
I always enjoy spending time with Brother Hyles, but this was especially exciting. I think you'll enjoy this conversation just as much as I did, so we're going to share it with you. I trust it will be a great blessing to your heart. (Dr. Dennis Corle, editor of Revival Fires! paper)
Interview with Dr. Jack Hyles
"It all started several years ago in Valdosta, Georgia. I was preaching on a Tuesday night and made the statement, rather casually, that I believe we could have a Pentecost again. D. L. Moody said that Pentecost was a `specimen day,' showing what the church could do if they would pay the price. A.T. Pierson made a similar statement that has always stuck in my mind. So I made the statement that if a church would pay the price, they could once again have 3,000 people get saved on one Sunday. I didn't think much about it at the time."
"The next day on the flight back to Chicago, the Lord brought those words back to my mind. The Lord seemed to say, 'Did you really mean that?' I knew that I really did. The more I thought about it, the more it challenged me If it can really be done, then why doesn't somebody do it? If it can't be done, forget it. But if it can be done, then let's try it."
"So out of the clear blue sky, without really planning to, that Wednesday night I said, `On the third Sunday of March we're going to have 3,000 people walk the aisle for salvation at First Baptist Church. I'm not talking about how many folks we win to Christ on the street, I'm talking about how many folks actually come to our church, walk the aisle and profess faith in Christ on the corner of 523 Sibley Street in Hammond.'"
"My folks were stunned, and I was, too. So we went to work, and as we worked and we worked and we worked. And we prayed and we prayed and we prayed. When that Sunday came, actually on our corner, we had 4,995 people walk the aisle for salvation. I mean, we stayed there till two or three o'clock in the afternoon. We hadn't made plans to be able to baptize all of them. We should have, but we didn't. We only had the one baptistry, so we baptized as many as we could, but we had to let them get back home. We baptized 600 or 700 that day, I guess. So we called it Pentecost Sunday, and rejoiced in all that God had done."
"Then I got to thinking. They had it twice in the book of Acts, so let's tie the record. It was two or three years later when I decided to do it again. I was really afraid it might be anticlimactic, but I was very pleased and surprised. We had 3,300 people walk the aisle for salvation there on site at the corner where our church is."
"A couple of years later we decided to do it once again. Over 5,000 people walked the aisle for salvation; I'm pretty sure it was 5,195 who were saved on that day. That was three times we've had over 3,000 saved on our corner. But it never dawned on me in all those times to try to make plans to baptize all those. To be quite frank with you, I wasn't sure we could talk 3,000 of them into getting baptized. So we baptized all afternoon, and probably baptized six or seven hundred each time."
"Recently I got to thinking about it again. I wasn't trying to figure out some kind of big day, I just kept thinking that we really didn't have Pentecost Sunday. We had 3,000 saved on three different occasions, but we never had 3,000 baptized on one day."
"So I decided to study and figure out how I thought they did it at Pentecost. I know they had no church building, no baptistry, no dressing rooms, no baptismal garments. I also know that you couldn't baptize 3,000 people in one tank in one day. Since I know they were baptized in one day, I decided that they had to have baptized in different locations. So I thought they must have had services in several different places all over Jerusalem; the Bible says they were scattered every where, and talks about daily and in every house. So I organized the day as nearly as I could imagine to what I thought they did on the day of Pentecost."
"I didn't tell my people until about six weeks beforehand. Only a few staff members knew what was in store. I announced it about six weeks in advance, and started having meetings every Saturday night with my key workers in the church. I'm talking about the bus captains and division leaders and soulwinning group leaders, and so on; about 200 or 300 people. Then I started announcing it to the church and said that anyone else who would like to be in charge of a service somewhere in the Chicago-northwest Indiana area, could come to this Saturday night meeting. We probably got up to 400 in that meeting before it was over. These were the people that were just going to lead and organize the services in the different locations. We had thousands of folks who worked in these services."
"We divided the whole region into sections and let people choose the section where they would hold their meeting. I ordered 55 horse troughs to be used as baptistries in many of these services. Then I talked with each of these leaders and they set goals for how many they thought they could have saved and baptized in each place. Then we set places to meet for each section. Almost all the services were indoors, and we were concerned about the weather, because we got a lot of rain in Chicago during May. We found sister churches around the area that allowed us to use their buildings on Sunday afternoon. All the workers were ours, but they allowed us to use their building, and we paid them to use their baptistry. We also rented buildings from Seventh Day Adventists, meeting rooms in apartment complexes, gymnasiums and schools."
"It ended up that we had 217 different services on that Sunday. Now I met with all these people and told them exactly the kind of message I wanted to have preached. I told them I wanted the clearest presentation of the Gospel that they could give. I also told them that I wanted names and addresses turned in on every single person baptized, or they would not be counted."
"Then I said, `I don't want us to spend all our time in court after this is over for baptizing somebody's little kids.' So we did not baptize anyone under the age of 18 unless we had signed parental permission. Even a 17 year old had to have signed parental permission. I said, `If we turn in a report of 3,000 baptisms, I want 3,000 names and addresses. And if 1,000 of those are under 18, I want 1,000 parental permission slips signed.' I stressed the fact again and again that I wanted a very clear presentation of the Gospel and I even went into how to present it."
"I'm not sure how many baptistries we used, but we had 217 services, and somewhere all of those arranged to use a baptistry or one of the horse troughs. I'd say we probably had 75 services where the workers used the horse troughs or improvised, and then probably another 50 had their services and bussed them to the church to get baptized."
"Our main baptistry was used all afternoon. I had men there to baptize throughout the day. If somebody had a service nearby and didn't have a baptistry, they brought their converts to the church and they got baptized. I set another baptistry up in the fellowship hall, and they baptized there all afternoon. I set another one up down at our City Baptist School a block and a half away, and they baptized all afternoon. We had three people baptizing on the church property all day. These were converts from the services that were held, if it was easier for them to bring them to the church than to set up baptistry arrangements at the location of their meeting."
"Also, who did the baptizing? At our church, the rules are that a man has to be an ordained preacher to baptize, but we didn't have 217 ordained preachers. So we chose men who were not ordained, but they were preachers or deacons, nearly 100 of them, and took them before the church in a business meeting and asked the church's permission for those men to baptize converts on behalf of First Baptist Church on this one Sunday."
"Some churches allowed us to use their buildings. There are about 55 churches within an hour and a half of our church, who are our dear friends, and most of them pastored by our graduates. So they had their own services on Sunday morning, and we borrowed their buildings in the afternoon. Our folks did all the work, but in many places, their folks got excited about it. Pretty soon, some of their folks decided to get busy getting people saved and baptized, because of what they saw happen. I've had three pastors write and tell me it was the greatest day of their lives."
"We had businesses call us and say,`We'd like to give you something to give as a prize on that day.' We had a furniture company who called and gave us a new bedroom suite to give away. I don't even know all the promotions and give-aways that folks used in the different services to get visitors to come." "Now in some of these locations, they didn't have just one service on Sunday. They might have had a service at noon, and a service at 2:00, and a service at 4:00. Some of these meeting-locations may have had 200 workers out getting people to come, and the building they were using just wouldn't accommodate the crowd. So they divided into different service times using the same building on the same day, in some cases."
"It was unbelievable. I believe it was the nearest thing that we could ever know to what took place on the day of Pentecost. We sat down and `logicked' with one another, `Now what did they have to do with no church building, no baptistry, no P.A. system?' And we made our plans as closely as we could to that pattern."
"Then at our own church, most of our people were out working. I was afraid we wouldn't have a corporal's guard show up for our own services that morning. So I talked to the drive-in people that were going to be in the auditorium that morning, and I asked them to bring 500 unsaved drive-in guests to hear the Gospel that day. I told them if they brought one unsaved visitor, I'd give a copy of my new biography to their visitor, and also one to them. So it cost me about $10 for every unsaved visitor that showed up in the auditorium service that morning. I even told them if they brought 10 visitors, I'd give each visitor a biography and give them 10 copies they could give away to friends and relatives."
"I told the people,`Now if you bring them, I'll do the best I can to preach the clearest and most intense evangelistic sermon that I've ever preached.' I promised that I would give the best effort I'd ever given to get their loved ones saved. Now, we didn't pack the auditorium out that day, but we had such a good crowd of people, that I was shocked. We had over 500 unsaved people in the auditorium that morning. I preached a strong evangelistic sermon that I had prepared more than six weeks before. So in the church auditorium, we had hundreds of people saved and baptized, as well."
"Here's the thing about it. This was the most `healthy' service in the history of our church as far as the quality of conversions. Bear in mind, we didn't run any buses that day. All our bus workers were having meetings out in their bus route areas. All we had at the church were drive-in people. We had adults saved from all over northwest Indiana, in our own neighborhoods: Hammond, East Chicago, Gary, Whiting, Munster, Highland, Griffith, Schererville, Merrillville, Calumet City, an within a 20 minute drive of our church."
"It was amazing! We had mothers and fathers saved, and folks we've been praying for over many years. It was amazing, it really was. We baptized forever, it seemed like. But the exciting thing was that not one of our soulwinning club workers or bus workers or college students brought those folks. Our workers were all out having services. The visitors and results of that Sunday morning at the church property was the result of all our drive-in families bringing their unsaved friends and loved ones. And there were a bunch of the drive-in folks who had volunteered to have services, too, and were gone. So it was really exciting."
"And then the same kind of Gospel preaching services were taking place in every department in our Sunday School, though most of them were down in total attendance. Take for example, a high school department that runs 200 in attendance, they probably had 35 regulars that day who weren't out in the other services. But I asked them to bring drive-in visitors also, and each department had an evangelistic service. So add together the 217 preaching services, plus that happened in the auditorium, plus what happened in each department, and you see what took place at First Baptist Church on that Sunday."
"In order for all of us to get back to the church by 6:45 on Sunday evening, the last service had to end by 5:00 p.m. I didn't want anybody out of the service on Sunday night. We didn't haveany six o'clock meeting like we normally do. Everybody was back in their place at 7:00 p.m. I didn't know what the results might be. In fact, I had told the people, if we just get 1,000 people baptized, let's not complain or get discouraged about it. They're rejoicing in heaven, so let's thank God."
"But I had told them that I would find out when they found out. So I walked into the auditorium with a sealed envelope. My records secretary knew, but I didn't know. Just before the evening service, if I had been called on to predict, I'd have been torn between thinking it would be 3,500 or 2,500 baptisms for the day. I was just as anxious as everybody else."
"So I opened the envelope and read the results. The final count on baptisms for that day was 5,112! The place just exploded. I jumped up on the pew and shouted, and other people did, too. There was probably 15 minutes of clapping and cheering as folks rejoiced in God's blessing on all their hard work."
"That night our people were worn out. Oh, they were so tired. So I got up and said, `No college tomorrow. No high school tomorrow. No grade school tomorrow.' They shouted almost a much over that! Just for fun, on Wednesday night I walked out on the platform and said, `Let me tell you about the big day we're going to have in October,' and they all groaned, `Oh, no!' They were too tired to think about it. So many, many people got involved and worked so hard."
"Here is the amazing thing to me. Everybody got involved in it. I promise you that there is nothing that has ever happened in our schools, no athletic contest or event of any kind, that excited the kids like this did. Our teenagers and junior high kids got involved. One family of six, the parents and four teenage children, got saved about 65 miles from the church. They got so excited about it that they moved to Hammond within two weeks and joined our church."
"But the thing about it, it was such a unanimous thing in our church. In a church the size of ours, I get complaints about everything. We had a shop demonstration and I got letters from people saying the judges were unfair. I get letters every week. But not one single letter of complaint, not one single negative phone call about this whole deal. One of our men said it was the `cleanest' thing he's ever seen. And not one single complaint from our people. Not a single complaint about baptizing a child, because every worker got signed permission. Not one complaint about `our neighborhood was disrupted' -- nothing. It's been over two weeks, and I haven't gotten one single letter or phone call to complain about anything that happened."
"The offering was amazing, as well. In our 7,000 seat auditorium, we might have had 2,000 on that Sunday morning. I told my wife on the way to church that morning, `Think of the offering. It's going to be terrible.' Our best people weren't even there. But lo and behold, if we didn't meet our budget even with thousands of people out. I don't know how in the world we did it. I know there were many workers who didn't put their tithe in until the next week, because the next week's offering shot up even higher."
"By the way, thousands of people in our church promised to pray a certain amount of time each day for ten days before that Sunday. Somebody was praying all the way around the clock. I learned after the fact that several of our staff men fasted and prayed during that time. If our folks prayed 15 minutes day for the meeting, that's four an hour. So I figured that if we had 1,000 people praying 15 minutes a day, that's a 1,000 hours a day for ten days, or 10,000 hours of prayer that went into this. It was miraculous. It's electrifying. I've never seen anything like it in my life."
"When May third rolled around, didn't even know what kind of weather to pray for. If I prayed for a beautiful sunshiny day, all those Chicago people that have been cooped up all winter would want to head for the beach or the park. They won't want to go to church. But if it rains, its going to kill us. The Lord knew exactly what kind of weather we needed, and He answered that prayer. The weather was too cool to go to the beach, too cloudy to get any suntan, not a speak of sunshine, and not one drop of rain all day long. It looked like rain all day, but it never did fall, thank the Lord. When Mrs. Hyles and I got in the car that night after church to drive home, we pulled out of the parking lot, and the rain began to hit the windshield."
"One time several years ago when re were going to have this kind of a big day, the weather forecast was calling for heavy rain all weekend, and it didn't rain on us at all. On the newscast that night, the weatherman said, `Something strange happened in Chicago today. There was solid rain from Iowa to Ohio, from Wisconsin to Kentucky, solid rain all over the region, except for one little patch over Chicago and northwest Indiana all day!"'
"After reaching all these people, somebody is invariably going to ask the question,`What are you going to do beyond seeing these people get saved and baptized? What are you doing to follow up on all these converts? We're still in the process now of going through ail the records of the folks who were baptized in all of these locations. We have given names of some of the converts to the churches whose building we used, if they are a good distance away and we don't have a bus route in that area. But many of these services were held on our bus routes, where there are already people working on a weekly basis, so those bus workers will stay in touch with the converts, and work on getting them into church on a regular basis. I assure you, we're doing everything we can."
"I realized after the fact that I had made a mistake. In all the concentration and planning about having 3,000 baptized, I didn't tell them to get the names of those who got saved, but did not get baptized."
Brother Corle asked, "If you were guessing, not that we're going to hold you to this, but to have as many baptisms as you had on that day, how many would you estimate were saved in all those services on that day?" Brother Hyles answered, "My guess would be around 15,000, all of whom walked an aisle and were prayed with and dealt with individually. I told the workers that I wanted every person to receive two complete presentations of the Gospel, one in the preaching, and one from the personal worker who prayed with them when they got saved."
"It's awesome when you stop and realize that it really happened. I mean, Pentecost has been untouchable, and it seems almost sacrilegious to think that it actually happened. Oh, it's been 26 years ago, when Dr. Roberson was running 3,000 down in Chattanooga. I remember the first time we passed him. I cried. I didn't want to pass Dr. Roberson. And I feel a little bit guilty about this. I certainly don't intend to cast any shadow on what happened on Pentecost. I told the people that night, `There's no way you can absorb what really happened today. But through the years, it will get bigger and bigger, and you'll begin to understand the magnitude of what's taken place, and what the Lord has allowed us to be a part of."
(Publisher's note: There will always be those reading this story or who have heard of our big day who will find fault. Even the Pharisees were displeased when Jesus healed people. Are YOU a Pharisee, or do you rejoice that thousands more will be in Heaven because of this big day?)