8,000 attend Ignite rally
    May 5 2010 by Julianne Kuykendall Goldthwaite, Special to the Biblical Recorder

    To be perfectly honest, 26-year-old Brandon Ledbetter from Franklin really didn’t want to come to the Ignite Asheville 2010 youth explosion.

    BR photo by Julianne Kuykendall Goldthwaite

    The youth group from Mount Zion Baptist Church in Canton were among the first youth groups in line each night when the doors opened for Ignite at 6 p.m. Front: Walker Stamey, Allie Messer, Hunter Mease, Levi Singleton, Josh Farmer. Back: Ivy Mills, J.K. Willis, youth minister Jonathan Blaylock and his wife Rebekah Blaylock.

    He would rather have spent that Saturday night the way he typically did — partying with his typical alcohol and drugs. In fact, the only reason he reluctantly agreed to show up was to pacify his sister, Bethany Alberts, who openly begged him.

    He knew he didn’t want to come. But, what he didn’t know was that some openly Wiccan groups in Asheville didn’t want him or anyone else there either and they publicly raised their voices in a protest walk around the civic center against the Ignite movement.

    However, God had different plans for this young man.

    On Saturday, May 1 when Ledbetter casually strolled into the Asheville Civic Center along with 3,000 other people from all over Western North Carolina, he had no idea that he embodied everything that Ignite Asheville 2010 was all about — and everything that Ricky Mason, pastor of First Baptist Church of Maggie Valley, had envisioned in 2006 — seeing lost young people come to know Jesus as their Savior.

    “The first Ignite rally was in Maggie Valley at the Stompin’ Grounds in March of 2007 and we’ve had 14 meetings all over Western North Carolina since then so the Ignite Asheville 2010 is our 15th meeting,” said Mason in a telephone interview while driving the church van to the event and seeing the enormous crowd gathered outside the civic center. “Coming to this event tonight is a great feeling because it’s a move of God. We just do the organizing and God takes over from there — that’s how it’s been since the beginning.”

    The rally opened up with these forward-thinking words from evangelist Clayton King previously spoken at a fall 2006 Ignite rally at Lake Junaluska and re-played at Ignite Asheville 2010: “I think it’s going to get so big we’re going to have to move to the civic center in Asheville, N.C.” Those prophetic words were realized when a dynamic King, who has preached at every Ignite event, took the stage.

    Since Ledbetter had never been to an Ignite rally, he had no idea that Ignite had taken on a life of its own, but he quickly caught on when King opened with these words, “What began as a vision in the heart of Ricky Mason in 2006 has now spread to 14 locations. Here we are four years later together in the name of Jesus. We’ve seen over 2,000 people saved as a result,” shouted an exuberant King.

    “Traffic is backed up to Interstate 240,” King exclaimed to a roaring crowd.

    Ledbetter was even more impressed when Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, in the face of much political Asheville opposition, took the stage with a dynamic personal testimony. “I believe in Jesus, and I’m not ashamed of that,” said a visibly enthused Bellamy. “I’m asking you as young people to dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand against opposition to see what God wants to do through you!”

    After Ledbetter enjoyed praise and worship with Christian artists Carl Cartee, Leap of Faith and 3-D, he settled down to hear King’s enthusiastic, down-to-earth, evangelistic message geared for young people to easily understand. Even teenage prom-goers left their prom early with bibles in hand to come sit in the balcony, still dressed in prom attire, to listen to King.

    During the message, King told a humorous story of how he went water skiing for the first time as a pudgy 10-year-old boy. He said he was so scared when that rope started pulling him and he thought he was going to die that day because the rope had so much pull and control over him.

    BR photo by Julianne Kuykendall Goldthwaite

    Brandon Ledbetter, left, made a profession of faith May 1 at Ignite. He is pictured with his sister, Bethany Alberts, who invited him to the event.

    “Then, I had an idea to just let go of the rope if I wanted to live that day, so I did and the life preserver saved me,” said King, comparing the rope to a sin in a young person’s life and the life preserver to God’s salvation.

    “Sin will control your life if you hang on — just let go of the sin and let God save you,” King explained to the hushed crowd in the civic center.

    As Ledbetter sat there, he couldn’t keep his eyes off the 37-year-old evangelist while King’s poignant, blunt words hit him hard.

    “I was into partying every night and I realized I was more lost than I knew,” Ledbetter explained, adding that he was at rock bottom in that moment. “I had thought that the people I partied with really liked me but I realized they didn’t and they were just putting on a false front, so I decided that’s not who I am or who I want to be and I got up and decided to be saved and walk the right way.”

    When he walked down the aisle that night, his sister Bethany Alberts was crying tears of joy.

    “Actually, I was absolutely blubbering like a moron,” said Alberts with a joyful laugh. “He’s my brother, and I couldn’t stand the thoughts of going to heaven and not taking my family with me and knowing he wasn’t saved just broke my heart,” added Alberts. “When he stepped out and walked down that aisle, I knew he was terrified but I was so proud of him.”

    Ledbetter said that, when he prayed that salvation prayer, all the weight that he had been carrying was instantly lifted. “I realized that all the stuff I had been hiding really wasn’t hidden from God at all and saying that prayer was the best feeling in the world,” he said.

    “I look at things in a whole different way now,” he added. “It’s not just someone telling me there is a higher power out there — now I know God for myself.”

    When Ledbetter prayed that salvation prayer, he joined more than 400 people who were saved over the Ignite Asheville 2010 weekend and 300 others who made decisions about their spiritual life.

    “This whole weekend has just been an answer to so much prayer over four years and I think it’s just been fantastic,” said Mason.

    For more information about Ignite Asheville 2010, visit www.igniteasheville.com.

    (EDITOR’S NOTE — Goldthwaite is a writer in western North Carolina.)
    5/5/2010 8:02:00 AM by Julianne Kuykendall Goldthwaite, Special to the Biblical Recorder | with 0 comments

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