Up and down the aisles they went, whispering prayers for the 8,000 women expected to fill James Brown Arena tonight.
The arena buzzed with activity Thursday in anticipation of Just Give Me Jesus, a free two-day revival led by Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of evangelist Billy Graham.
Prayer teams fanned out across the arena, laying hands on each row and seat. Ushers-in-training were counseled to greet participants as though “they were visitors in your home church.” Volunteers stacked thousands of programs.
Earlier in the day, Lotz met with reporters. She talked about the need for Just Give Me Jesus, the worldwide series of revivals she has held since 2000.
“The problems in America are deeper than politics,” Lotz said. “The problems are in human hearts. In our hearts, we need to make peace with God. I don’t want to be pessimistic; I just don’t think politics is the answer. I believe Jesus is the answer with all of my heart.”
Lotz will preach for more than three hours over the two-day event, delivering Gospel invitations and sharing messages such as Peace with God, Hope for Tomorrow, and Making It Over by Praying Through. Babbie Mason will sing, and singer-songwriter Fernando Ortega will lead worship.
“In our world today, there’s just an angst, an unsettledness in our spirits,” Lotz said in an interview. “Where is truth? Where is hope? Where is love? I think it’s a thirst to get right with God.”
Although everyone is welcome, the revival is meant to speak straight to the hearts of women, Lotz said.
“Women, in many ways to me, are the strengths of their community,” she said.
Though her father’s ministry was largely to those “outside the church,” Lotz said, she hopes to reach tired and hurting women inside the church. “If we can reach the women, if their hearts catch on fire, they’ll impact many more people than can fit into the James Brown Arena.”
Hundreds of radio stations across the country will air live broadcasts of the Augusta event, and churches nationwide have groups gathering to watch video streams from the arena. Radio station WAFJ-FM (88.3) will air the event live.
The total cost? About a half-million dollars, Lotz said. Her Raleigh, N.C.-based AnGeL Ministries funds about half the cost, while a local revival team aimed to raise $233,000.
As of Wednesday, they had raised more than $200,000 and were just $31,000 short of their goal, said Blanche Conger, the chairwoman of the Local Revival Team for Just Give Me Jesus.
“It’s been a tremendous community effort,” she said.
On Thursday, she praised the local revival team for its organization and attitude.
“The committee here has had a lot of vision,” Lotz said. “They reached out past Augusta.”
Buses from across the region are expected. Women are urged to show up early to get seats when doors open at 5:30 p.m.
For women who are not sure whether they want to attend, Lotz asked to speak to them directly:
“God loves you,” she said. “If no one else was alive in the world, God would have sent Jesus to you.
“If life has become dull, hard, boring, pressure-packed and you just need a fresh encounter with Jesus, then just come. Don’t miss this opportunity.”