Dual outreach and revival event refreshes Panhandle community

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BRISTOL–After a tough year of ministry, Pastor Cody Watson of Lake Mystic Baptist Church wanted to plan a special weekend to minister to the Bristol area.

“Even though we live in a community that is clearly in the Bible Belt, we know that around 70 percent of our small county is unengaged in the church,” Watson said.

Called “Love Liberty County,” Lake Mystic members served their neighbors through community service projects while holding daily revival services during the weekend event.

“It started as a desire to get back into the community after this past year of COVID-19 severely limited our outreach efforts, and as a way to practically show love for our neighbors and to impact the lostness we see in our county and surrounding areas,” the pastor said.

The event didn’t happen without its share of setbacks. A few days before the outreach event, a storm threatened to postpone their plans.

“The Lord was really good in it,” Watson said. “It was supposed to be really bad weather with a possibility of tornados. We prayed all week and the weather cleared up.”

On the day of community service, church members scattered across the county to show the love of Christ to everyone they met. One group washed cars and changed oil for free. When someone stopped by needing help to change a headlight, they were able to assist.

Another crew held a yard sale where anyone could pick up household items and clothes for free. One group handed out bottled water and witnessed to shoppers in store parking lots. Others prepared and delivered care baskets to the widows and homebound in their church.

Landscaping was needed at W.R. Tolar, a K-8th grade school nearby, and a group from the church stepped in to meet the need. They trimmed hedges, added mulch and pine straw to flowerbeds, and even painted a bridge for the school.

As they served at their various projects, church members held Gospel conversations and invited people they encountered to the revival services.

“Like many small communities in the Panhandle we are not short on physical needs from those who are hungry or counseling people through broken marriage,” Watson said. “But honestly, it is the spiritual needs that have concerned us the most. As a church we desire to help meet these physical needs as a means to share the love of Christ with people.”

The event sparked a love for sharing the Gospel and ministry among the Lake Mystic members.

“The youth are excited to do more carwashes and share the Gospel,” Watson added.

Several members enjoyed the homebound visits so much they committed to going again frequently, creating a homebound ministry.

During the revival services over the weekend, Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, challenged those in attendance with the Gospel message. They held a Friday service, two services on Saturday, culminating in a Celebration Service on Sunday.

Three new believers made professions of faith during the revival services and were baptized shortly afterwards. Watson is continuing to follow up with others who came forward during the revival.

“We will do it again–definitely. I would love for this to become an annual event,” Watson said.

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