The spiritual climate of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been transformed because of what God accomplished through the National Crusade with Ralph Bell, March 21-27. It’s most evident in the lives of people like Mitchell Wilson. Watching Wilson counsel two teenage boys on the final night of the Crusade, it’s hard to believe that just five months ago he was trapped in sin and running from Christ.
Wilson, who was living on the nearby Caribbean island of Trinidad, now realizes he was “unequally yoked”–in business with a non-Christian and, for the past six years, in an adulterous relationship with a married woman. “When you’re in sin, you’re so caught up in it,” he said. “I can see now that the Holy Spirit was convicting me.”
Last November, Wilson visited St. Vincent for a cousin’s wedding. What began as a two-week trip eventually changed his life forever. He was invited to meet and pray with Pastor Junior George, chairman of the National Crusade’s youth committee.
“I had a doubt about God,” said Wilson. “I wanted a personal experience; something that only God could really reveal.”
According to Wilson, as Pastor George prayed it became clear that he had knowledge of things even Wilson’s family did not know. Wilson explained, “I didn’t know if to jump, I didn’t know if to shout. I wanted to cry, I wanted to laugh. I didn’t know what to do, but I just say, ‘This had to be God.’
“This was my experience that I know God is for real, and from that time, I really start to read the Word of God and pray.”
Totally Committed to Christ
Before returning to Trinidad, Wilson decided to leave his old life behind. He prayed, “God, I’m going to give up the business for You. God, I’m going to give up the relationship for You. I’m giving up everything for You.”
He was amazed at how smoothly God worked out everything in Trinidad, allowing him to move to St. Vincent, where his mother was born, and start his new life in Christ.
Wilson began attending Glad Tidings Tabernacle church, where he learned about the National Crusade with Ralph Bell. He quickly became involved in the Christian Life and Witness Classes, which he says helped to “line up” his life.
More than 2,000 attended the classes, and over 600 prayed to commit their lives to Christ during the training–including 232 first-time decisions.
Pastor Stephen Olliverre, of Kingdom Life Tabernacle in the town of Mesopotamia, said, “Even after this [Crusade], I think we’ll see people continue to reach out because of the training they have received.”
That is certainly the hope of Wilson and others, including John Lewis, the National Director of Ministries in Action in St. Vincent and the Resident Director for the Crusade. Lewis said, “It has been my personal desire to see the churches working together, because God’s presence is in the midst of spiritual unity, and that’s where God displays His power.”
Reaching the Next Generation
The week-long National Crusade with BGEA Associate Evangelist Ralph Bell also made a significant impact on the next generation of Vincentians. More than 65 percent of the nation’s population of 120,000 is under the age of 25, and many of them attended some or all of the Crusade meetings. During the week–which included two “Youth Eruption” concerts featuring the Christian rock band Salvador–more than 2,500 people made commitments to Jesus Christ, the majority of whom were between the ages of 10 and 18 years of age.
“The Word of God is showing them that they’re precious people,” said Simone Cordice, a counselor from Miracle Tabernacle church in Lodge Village. “Giving them a self-worth in Jesus could turn around the whole nation.”
Friday night’s youth concert was attended by more than 18,700 people–making it the largest gathering ever in the history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Saturday morning “Children’s Fest” was the third largest event of the week, drawing 12,300 children and parents to the Crusade venue, Victoria Park. More than 1,200 gave their lives to Jesus–an astounding 93% of which were first-time decisions.
“If these youths can start to read and understand the Word, we could have such a different world,” said Wilson.
In total the Crusade had 76,381 in attendance for the week. At school assemblies led by Crusade team members throughout the week, 20,000 young people heard the message of hope and another 3,500 responded by putting their faith in Jesus Christ.
Reflecting on the impact of the meetings, Lewis said, “We stand in amazement at what God has done in St. Vincent. This nation will never be the same again because of the Ralph Bell Crusade.”
Continuing Work in the Caribbean
With the success of the National Crusade in St. Vincent, many are hoping that the impact on the Caribbean islands will not end. “We’re hoping that we can catapult this throughout the Caribbean,” said Lewis.
Already pastors on several other Caribbean islands have expressed an interest in having the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association hold crusades there as well. One supporter is Mitchell Wilson, who plans to return to Trinidad. He hopes to ignite a passion for bringing the Crusade ministry to that island nation.
“I want to go back and be able to make a difference there, because I am equipped now,” said Wilson. “We need this Billy Graham Evangelistic Association team to come to Trinidad, and we need it soon!”