2 Teen Deaths Spark Revivals in Kentucky & Florida: 'You Never Expect Him to Move This Big'
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The untimely death of two Christian teenagers – one in Somerset, Kentucky, and the other in Palatka, Florida – has led to revival movements among their separate communities. Residents say the teens' faith has been a "catalyst" to bring about a move of God.
In late September, 16-year-old Baylee Holbrook was out hunting with her father, Matthew Holbrook, in Putnam County, Florida, when lightning glanced off a nearby tree.
The event left the pair unconscious. When Matthew awoke he saw that his daughter was not breathing and began to administer CPR.
The frantic dad also called 911 and his daughter was rushed to the hospital. On social media he urged everyone he knew to pray.
"Pray for my baby. Every single person put your knees on the ground and pray," he wrote.
Hundreds joined in prayer, but the young girl passed on to eternity.
Baylee's sudden death rocked her community, but God wasn't done with her story. Her testimony would soon draw many to Christ.
Those who knew her best described her as a young girl passionately pursuing God and making Him known.
"Baylee had text groups and would send Bible verses. She also invited them to church," Willie McKinnon III, a close family friend and pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Palatka, told the Baptist Press.
"She was the one on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings who was texting her peers and loved ones: 'Hey, hope to see you at church,' and 'Hope to see you there,' because she always wanted to see people be better than who they were," McKinnon said. "Her main goal was to make sure they had every opportunity to accept Jesus Christ into their hearts."
Since her death, hundreds of people have given their lives to Jesus Christ.
In mid-October, 172 middle and high school students were baptized in the St. Johns River. Many of them shared that they had been impacted by Baylee's life and testimony.
"The catalyst that God used was the sudden death of a teenage girl who was known for her strong faith in Christ," said Ron Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church in Palatka.
Smith added, "The Holbrook family has been an amazing testament to trusting Jesus," even in the midst of loss.
Smith shared with the outlet that local pastors from different denominations are working together to "fan the flame."
"The pastors, churches, and community are united in our desire to continue to fan the flames of what God is doing so that we would not just see this fire burn out. Pastors recognize the great work of discipling those who have surrendered to Jesus Christ," Smith said.
"I feel an even more profound fervency to equip and send Christians into the streets of Palatka to 'Go and make disciples,'" Smith added.
Revival in Kentucky
Meanwhile, a former Kentucky Baptist pastor Alan Dodson recently shared before a crowd of 2,500 people about the life and faith of his son, Andrew, who died in April after suffering a severe brain injury in a varsity football game.
Dodson testified at "Anchored: Hope for Lake Cumberland," an evangelistic event on Sunday, November 12, following the Kentucky Baptist Convention Annual Meeting.
His message along with the message of evangelist Clayton King moved more than 80 people to make decisions for salvation.
Here's a glimpse into Anchored: Hope for Lake Cumberland. We are praising God for eternities changed and continue to pray for God to work in Somerset. Watch the entire program at https://t.co/cGtZGiWEeI. pic.twitter.com/UNXPrkqtGc— KyBaptistConvention (@KentuckyBaptist) November 13, 2023
Andrew Dodson packed a lot of life in those 17 years," Dodson shared. "Andrew loved fiercely because he knew the greatest love. He knew God's love."
"Tonight, if you don't know Jesus…come to him. Run to him!" Dodson added.
King followed Dodson's testimony urging people to ensure that they knew Jesus.
"God doesn't want you to guess, God doesn't want you to doubt, God doesn't want you to be confused," he said.
"If you, in your heart, are convinced that the son of God came to earth as a man and as God at the same time…never sinned, lived a perfect life, died on the cross, poured his blood out…to wash your sins away…if you believe God raised him from the dead…if you believe that in your heart, you will naturally confess it with your mouth," King said.
Last night was INCREDIBLE! Over 2,500 in attendance, we sang with a 100 person choir, debuted two NEW songs, @Clayton_king brought the word, and we witnessed over 80 people make decisions for Christ! So thankful to be a part of last night, thank you @KentuckyBaptist pic.twitter.com/9m5GERtrwf— Jason Lovins (@jasonlovins) November 14, 2023
Todd Gray, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, told Kentucky Today he is grateful for what took place.
"The Anchored: Hope for Lake Cumberland evangelistic crusade is a vivid testimony of what can happen when God's people pray, plan, and work together to advance the gospel," Gray said. "The hours that went into this gathering will only be fully known in Heaven, but much of the fruit of their labor was seen on full display as men and women, boys and girls stood up testifying that they had given their life to Jesus. I am so thankful for Kentucky Baptists."
Tommy Floyd, the associational mission strategist in the Lake Cumberland Baptist Association, told the outlet he never expected God to move as He did.
"Praise the Lord," he said choking back tears. "You expect Him to move but you never expect Him to move this big. I sat up there and cried."
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