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Out of a desire to bring county folks to Jesus, a local church got the idea to hold a revival for the masses.

Ronnie Strickland, a deacon at Grace Baptist Church in Bryans Road, said last year’s revival at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf was a bit lacking in terms of what they had hoped to see happen. They moved to the county fairgrounds this year, Strickland said, hoping that they’d get a better turnout. On a recent Friday night, their prayers were answered: Strickland estimated that somewhere between 300 and 375 people attended the first night of the revival. Strickland told a reporter who visited the event in the late afternoon Saturday that so far that day’s crowd hadn’t been nearly so large, but they were still pleased.

“Today has seen a lot of new faces. A lot of them are from different churches,” Strickland said.

Although most of the people in attendance were Baptists, Strickland said, the day was open to anyone.

“Our main goal is to get people to know and hear more about Jesus,” Strickland said. “Look at society today. We’re in deep trouble. The main thing is to reach out to the lost, those who don’t know him.”

Friday’s crowd, Strickland said, was mostly teenagers. That night, he said, 15 people found Jesus. Strickland said he himself got saved in 2004.

“When he calls you, you’ll know it,” Strickland said.

Under an expansive white tent, people sat and fanned themselves while listening to preachers and praise bands. The Rev. Ronnie Miller told the small group gathered as he preached Saturday about growing up in a home that had no religion at all and how he came to Jesus in his teenage years.

“Money is nothing. I’m not the richest man, but I’m richly blessed,” Miller said.

Miller, one of several preachers Saturday, spoke for just less than an hour before making his “altar call,” beckoning people to come up front and get saved. Heads were bowed in silent reverence as organ music played and Miller made his call, but no one came to the front.

The Rev. Larry Estevez, one of Saturday’s five preachers, described revivals as a way of making Christians less “complacent regarding things of the Lord.”

“I would say the Christian community, for the most part, is asleep,” Estevez said. “We allowed the world to enter into the church. It’s about having a deep and abiding commitment to the person and work of the lord Jesus Christ.”

Estevez said he was “not pleased” with Saturday’s turnout.

“We wanted the place full, and it’s not,” Estevez said.

Having preached the night before, the Rev. Wayne Matthews said he was excited by the response that night.

“You know whenever you watch God work like that it’s so fulfilling to know ... that God is truly working,” said Matthews, a former drug addict who got saved at 23 and turned his life around. Since then, Matthews said he has traveled the world sharing God’s message.

The previous night, Matthews said he had wanted to “do something dramatic” to spread the message. With that in mind, he saw to the construction of a large wooden cross that he had wanted to come in on. The cross, which Matthews proudly showed off, still was set up Saturday, adorned with the words “King of Jews” and “Will be back.”

“This tent isn’t filled like it should be. That’s the sad thing,” Matthews said. “It’s not me. It’s not us. When we let God work through us we get it. My thing for Charles County is our eyes should be opened ... and we should be open about our faith to others.”

lrenner@somdnews.com