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8,000 attend Ignite rally
Julianne Kuykendall Goldthwaite, Special to the Biblical Recorder
May 05, 2010

8,000 attend Ignite rally

8,000 attend Ignite rally
Julianne Kuykendall Goldthwaite, Special to the Biblical Recorder
May 05, 2010

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.)