The Burlington Revival has outgrown the church walls and has moved to Exit 140 on I-40 in Alamance County. This pop-up church-in-a-tent is back for a second year, and the organizers say they expect it to be bigger than ever.
Evangelist C.T. Townsend is the main preacher during the services, which are held weeknights at 7:30 p.m. He says it's "amazing . . . seeing people that are not believers, yet while I start preaching, you can see the light switch come on and you can see the Lord begin to deal with their heart." Townsend says he saw 1,200 people saved in this "light" at last summer's revival.
Last year, New Hope Baptist Church in Burlington held a scheduled revival that was supposed to last five days, but went on for almost four months. The fire code in the church was limiting the number of attendees, and they eventually rented a tent to hold the thousands of people. It only came to a close when the tent they were renting had to move to another event.
The organizers said they wouldn't make that same mistake this year. Through donations and planning, the church bought a tent that could withstand severe weather, such as the heavy rainstorms they experienced last year. The new tent can hold up to 3,000 chairs with room for overflow outside, weather depending.
People have poured into this tent by the thousand, with ages ranging from lthose who can't even walk the aisles to people in their 80s dragging oxygen tanks behind them.
"This is a wonderful place," said Statesville, North Carolina resident Loree Benge. "If you want to be saved, this is the place to be saved at."
15-year-old Ian Congdon said he comes to this revival to, "Wash away all my sins and rejoice because it’s a really good place here."
Jonathan Ray, of Fairview, North Carolina, said his wish for his 41st birthday was coming to this revival, and that he thanks God for making it possible.
"It was more than worth it," Ray said. "I have not felt a spirit like this and a move of God like this in a long time."
Most attendees vowed they'd be back for the next several days, if not every day this revival lasted.
"I’ve been coming here since Monday," Congdon said. "I plan on coming everyday, and everyday’s just got better since."
Even Benge said she felt compelled to continue traveling the hour and a half from Statesville to come to services every day. She carried her oxygen tank to the altar call every night.
"I felt like I had all the breath in the world," she said.
This kind of passion and dedication is living proof of the "burden" Townsend preaches about every night.
"How can you say that Jesus is fake?" he said. "Yet these lives have been dramatically, drastically turned around with the relationship with Jesus Christ. I am staking my life upon the fact that this world needs to hear the message of Jesus Christ. It’s what I live my life for."
Townsend's passion for the God and those who worship in the revival is clear onstage. He yells, jumps up and down and runs through the aisles throughout services.
"I don’t really know how to explain it, except I just open my mouth and that’s how it comes out," he said as he chuckled.
The most moving part for Townsend is the connections between the people and Jesus Christ.
"The joy of my week has been to hear people with my own ears, with tears streaming down their face, ask the lord to come into their heart," he said.
For more information, and livestream videos of all the services, visit www.facebook.com/burlingtonrevival.