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The Rev. Fred Lunsford, who was one of the soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day in 1944, says he encountered God at his prayer garden two miles from his house in Marble, which he calls "Light House Mountain," the Baptist Press reports.
On Tuesday, Lunsford hosted a "Prayer for Spiritual Awakening," joined by more than 255,000 people online. Tim Radford, owner of WKRK in Murphy, posted video of the morning service.
"This is truly a revival of prayer," Lunsford said during the almost-30-minute service, also thanking all those gathered remotely. "From this day forward, God's going to do wonders. What it is, I don't know, but I want to be a part of it."
It was two years ago that he told the Lord he was ready to go home, but the veteran preacher received at least one more mission.
"He said, 'Not yet because I've got some unfinished business that I need you to take care of,'" he told the BP. "Celebrate 70 years in the ministry and get everybody you can to be praying for spiritual awakening. I want to send renewal. I want to send a new work among you."
The Rev. Greg Mathis, a pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church, visited Lunsford, along with a few other pastors, on January 20 this year, which is when they said the spiritual awakening began.
"I don't know how to explain to you what happened that day," Mathis told the Christian news outlet. "I have never felt a manifestation of the Spirit of God like I did in that vehicle that day."
They rallied 200 preachers to join on the mountain but amid the coronavirus pandemic, Lunsford will go to the mountain and people joining can register for "Praying on the Mountain" online event on May 5.
After they quickly surpassed their goal of 10,000, Lunsford asked for 100,000 believers to join him.
It's gone way beyond that mark.
As of Monday morning, more than 180,000 are currently committed.
"It's been a burden on my heart for many years, even from the time of World War II when I was in Europe during the Battle of the Bulge and all that and even praying then," Lunsford recounts about the call he got from God in his prayer garden.
"I had an experience with God that was beyond measure," he added. "I looked at Buckhorn Gap...it seemed to me that I saw Jesus standing in that gap of the mountain...then I heard thunder roll and lightning flash."
Lunsford says he believes the day of prayer will launch something far greater than the encounter he had on that mountain.
"I believe honestly that God is going to do something extraordinary, that will get the attention of people all over the world. I don't know what it is, but I believe it with all my heart," Lunsford told the Baptist Press. "I believe God is moving and we need to listen."
Mud Creek Baptist Church is releasing a documentary on Lunsford's life and mission later this month.