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