Do you remember the 1970s television show Emergency! starring Randolph Mantooth and Mike Stoker who played paramedics from Station 51? Several years ago in Carson, California, a show reunion was held at the still-active fire station including an autograph signing time by the actors and the opportunity to tour the fire station and see up-close the fully-restored fire trucks used in the series. Streets were blocked off as thousands of people gathered to reminisce about the popular show and meet the people who had brought it into our homes through our televisions. The event was hosted by the Los Angeles County Fire Museum.
On Oct. 5 and 6 of this year, an even greater event has been planned for Tyler and East Texas. This event is called CityFest and it hopes to birth a great revival in our community as Christians from Tyler and outlying communities gather on Tyler’s square, bringing friends who do not personally know the love of God in Christ Jesus. Unlike an event hosted by a museum that seeks to entertain through nostalgia, the Tyler-based leadership team, working in collaboration with the Luis Palau Association, is planning a true “life-saving” event where people in our community can come hear the Gospel and be invited to respond in the presence of God’s loving community, the church.
More than 330 churches, including Marvin, have committed to sponsor this event, pray for its success, bring our unchurched friends, help support it financially and provide the volunteers needed to make it happen. As your lead pastor, I am asking for every Marvin member to find a place to serve within this great revival event.
Why should you be involved? Because reaching our community with the Gospel is what God has called us to do for the advancement of His Kingdom and for the aligning of our lives with God’s will. The Bible narrative speaks of a God whose desire is to be in relationship with the people He has created. Jesus’ ministry illustrates a God who rejoices over the finding of one lost sheep, one lost coin and a son who is reconciled with his father (See Luke 15). Jesus concludes his earthly ministry with the sending of his followers out into the world to make disciples (see the Great Commission from Matthew 28:19-20).
Making disciples for the transformation of the world is not only God’s mission for the Church, it is the mission of the United Methodist Church. And as for Marvin, making disciples is found in our mission statement Call Equip Send. In fact, the expansion of God’s Kingdom through evangelistic events has been a part of our ministry DNA for a very long time.
At a recent worship meeting, a church member asked me to read Chapter 5 from the book Forward in Faith, a book written by John Wesley Hardt about the ministry and mission of our church. The chapter is entitled Revivals from One Generation to Another. The chapter opens with a statement about the inspiration of our great church sanctuary being birthed out of the Sam Jones revival of 1890. In the era when our sanctuary was built, camp meetings and annual revivals were common, offering enthusiastic singing, an emphasis on prayer and evangelistic messages inviting people to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
For the February 1890 multi-day event, a large tabernacle was built with a large stage and a seating capacity of 4,500 people. Jones preached twice a day for 10 days. Hotels were filled with guests and railroads lowered fares to encourage participation. The schools even let out to promote the revival. Hundreds of pastors from many different denominations gathered from around the region. More than 7,000 different people attended and 1,000 people walked the aisles to celebrate a decision for Jesus. Marvin Church experienced a 22 percent increase in membership that year and $85,000 was pledged for the new Methodist sanctuary.
Where was this revival held? On the block sided by Ferguson, Bois d’ Arc and Erwin. This is the exact location where the Family Fun Zone and Extreme Sports Events will be held and the gospel presented during CityFest! This is right across the street from our campus where many Marvin members park on Sunday morning!
I believe, Marvin family, that God has something very exciting in store for our community and for our church. I believe that the same God who stirred the Methodists in the 1890s can stir His people again. I can’t wait to see the new converts come into our church, the new classes that are birthed and the new ministries started as a result of CityFest. I look forward to telling younger generations the stories of what God did in our midst in 2019.
So please find your place to serve. (See information about volunteering on this page.) Join me in prayer as we anticipate the movement of God in our community and the harvest of many souls for Jesus Christ:
Habakkuk 3:2 says “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known ….”