We spent three wonderful weeks of meetings in the Appalachian region of Tennessee and North Carolina.
Our first meeting (February 24-March 1) was with Pastor Dale Cunningham and the Boones Creek Bible Church in Johnson City, Tennessee. There is no question that the church has grown since our last meeting, both spiritually and numerically. During the services, there was an obvious heart and passion for the Lord, and the church received the Word of God with an eagerness to obey.  It was a joy to be with Pastor Cunningham. His enthusiasm for Christ is both genuine and permeating! It was my privilege to present a message called Biblical Discipleship to the congregation, and we had a good time discussing the potential of a Cross Impact ministry on the campus of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. We also had an amazing opportunity to visit the local public high school and play music in a number of classes and invite teens to the Cola Wars. We finished the week with a well-attended Irish Sacred Concert.
The next meeting (March 3-8) was only 30 miles down the road from Johnson City in Greeneville, Tennessee with Pastor David Fox and the Eastside Baptist Church. Pastor Fox is a special blessing and a real man of God. It was so exciting to enter into the building and see all the wonderful remodeling work that has gone on. The church has experienced solid growth over the last few years, and the people were very responsive to the Word throughout the week. We had an exceptional Cola Wars with 9 teens trusting Christ as their Savior. It was also good to see some special friends, Dr. Bill Hall and his dear wife, Shirley, who attended a few services. Dr. Hall has been a faithful evangelist and wonderful example for over 50 years in his ministry! They are so gracious, humble, and classy. On Monday night, I was surprised to see an old friend from my Citadel years, Larry Laplue. Larry lives in Morristown and drove over for the service. He was a freshman my senior year in college. It was privilege during that time to help him along spiritually and to disciple him. What a joy to hear of the things he is doing for the Lord in the various ministries he is involved in. We concluded the week with a wonderful concert and a full house.
Our final meeting in the mountains (March 10-14) was with Pastor Matt Collier and the Bethany Baptist Church of Brevard, North Carolina. This is the home church of many staff members from The Wilds Christian Camp. This was the first time for the church to have an evangelist in many years. I have such respect for Matt Collier and his dear wife, Kelly. They are such a spiritual example and a blessing to us. It was thrilling to see the passion of the Wilds staff for the local church. The church was filled with local town people who have connected with the ministry of Bethany. On Sunday morning a man was saved who had been coming to their addictions program called Freedom That Lasts. We finished with an Irish Sacred Concert and many were able to hear the Gospel from the community. On Thursday, we had a special Cola Wars for teens. We were able to visit Brevard Public High School and play blue grass music to hundreds of teens and invite them to the Cola Wars. It was a joy to see 3 teens respond to the Gospel that evening. We were also able to spend some time with former team members, Matt and Christy Taylor. They traveled with us from 2003-2005. They have been serving at The Wilds ever since that time, and Matt is currently in charge of the The Wilds music program. We had such a sweet time of fellowship with them.
It was also our special privilege to spend sometime with Matt and Julie Herbster. Julie was diagnosed with colon cancer last
May. We were able to visit them in their home at The Wilds that week, and two weeks later on March 25th, Julie went to be with the Lord. Terry and Julie connected very quickly because of their mutual sufferings. Both Matt and Julie have been a supreme example through their trials, and they have not only shown Christ, but also they have allowed the Holy Spirit to transform them through their trials. Terry and I were privileged to attend Julie’s viewing at The Wilds on Friday evening, March 29th. The spirit of the Herbster family and The Wilds staff shined brightly as they magnified the grace of the Lord through this time.
– Steve Pettit
Check out photos from the weeks here!