Despite a storm, people lined up to hear evangelists and receive free food.
By SEAN BARRON
YOUNGSTOWN -- For a day, Woodrow Wilson High School was the site for thousands of people to hear a few high-energy worship services and take advantage of several truckloads of food and clothing.
An estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people came to the free three-hour event Saturday at the school, at 2725 Gibson St., on the city's South Side. Among other things, the program, put on by Reformation Ohio, featured extreme sports exhibitions -- and extreme weather.
Hundreds filled the gym to attend a prayer and worship service by elder Brondon Mathis of Reformation Ohio.
Supplementing the service were performances by members of Kansas City, Mo.-based Team Xtreme, whose feats included using their hands to shatter a stack of concrete blocks; lifting a 250-pound barbell with two sets of truck tires on each end; bench-pressing a 700-pound log; tearing a phone book in half lengthwise; squeezing and breaking soda cans; and breaking a baseball bat in half.
The Rev. Rod Parsley, senior pastor with World Harvest Church of Columbus, and founder of Reformation Ohio, was unable to attend because of a family emergency. He was to have delivered the key gospel message.
The event featured a children's ministry, games and activities for youngsters, music and dance teams. Also part of the program were clothing and food drives in which more than 120,000 pounds of food, shampoo, furniture, toiletries and other products were distributed to those with vouchers.
At one point, the weather cleared and participants and organizers moved outdoors to hear another service while people lined up for the food and clothing. A short time later, however, they were pelted by small hail as part of a brief thunderstorm packing fierce winds with temperatures in the mid-40s.
Several hundred volunteers, most from the Mahoning Valley, helped direct the crowd and assisted with the food and clothing give-aways.
Founded last year
Reformation Ohio, an evangelistic coalition of churches and businesses, is an initiative founded in October 2005 that lists as its primary goals bringing spiritual revival and moral reformation to the state. Projects include preaching the Gospel, taking part in large-scale compassion projects and empowering communities via voter registration drives.
One of Reformation Ohio's long-term goals is to present the Gospel to at least 1 million people over four years. Its compassion projects are set up to meet the needs of people in more than 200 Ohio communities, with voter registration programs designed to help register at least 400,000 new voters in the state, organizers say.
At least 60 area churches and other organizations helped organize Saturday's event.