They came by the hundreds, singing and praising God during the "Second Annual Believe and Receive Harvest Time Crusade" held in late June at The Brickyard and at a local church.
This year, a number of pastors from different churches in the area, including McDuffie, Warren, Jefferson and Richmond counties, united together to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. It also was a time to renew spiritual growth for many and for those lost to come forth, publicly acknowledging God as their personal Lord and Savior.
There were more than a dozen pastors who participated in the five-day crusade - three of whom addressed an estimated 350 people who attended the House of God, Church of God in Christ in Thomson on June 29, because of a threat of thunderstorms.
"This was a time for all of us to be drawn closer to the God we serve and to bring in those lost - who didn't know the Lord before this crusade," said the Rev. Frederick Favors of Springfield Baptist Church in Thomson.
The Rev. Favors and the Rev. Charles Reese, pastor of Second Chance Independent Church in Thomson, co-founded the crusade last year. The first crusade became a reality last summer.
The Rev. Reese, a self-confessed prejudiced person before being converted to what he now describes as a child of God, was the brainchild of the crusade.
After becoming a preacher, Rev. Reese said he often drove by the famous Brickyard and envisioned someday having a big crusade there.
"I knew if the Thomson Bulldogs could play football in that stadium, then the Lord could save souls there," he said.
He later discussed the idea with Rev. Favors, who explained that the Lord had been leading him to start a similar crusade. Since then, the two pastors - one black and one white - have become like brothers. In fact, Rev. Favors introduced Rev. Reese as his twin brother to those attending the church last Friday night.
"We're like salt and pepper," joked Rev. Reese.
The two men aim to unite area churches in helping to build a community shelter for battered and abused women and children in Thomson.
"I feel this is what the Lord is leading us do in this community," said Rev. Reese. "We don't have any place for people like this to go in our community, and we feel it would greatly benefit people like that in need."
Both pastors express thanks to area churches for their generosity and pledge to support a community shelter. It is hoped that the shelter can be used by surrounding counties, too.
The Rev. Randy Crawford of New Providence Baptist Church near Cadley was the guest pastor.
His message, entitled, "Can you hear me?" focused on tasting and seeing that God is good. He spoke about Jonah and how he tried to run from God and eventually was swallowed by a whale.
"It is time for those of you who have been hypocrites to become children of God," said Rev. Crawford. "Just like the story of Jonah, you can run, but you can't hide. God is trying to read your hearts."
He also spoke about the importance of praying from the heart, instead of the lips.
"God wants to be first in your lives," said Rev. Crawford.
Following his message, the Rev. George R. LaSure also addressed the crowd.
"Every now and then, your spiritual batteries need re-charging," he said.
His message centered on the Biblical story of the Leper Man.
The pastor acquainted the Leper Man story with today's problem of HIV/AIDS.
Those attending enjoyed not only the preaching, but the singing as well. The featured vocalist last Friday night was Donna Williford of Norwood.