Government and church leaders in Tennessee’s Scott County are attributing a surge in meth lab seizures and drug arrests to the power of prayer originating from monthly community rallies which began in April.
The first prayer rally held in early April was attended by 200 people on the lawn of the Huntsville courthouse and was planned by county officials as an annual event. However, when four meth labs were seized by law enforcement within the first week of the prayer event, the meetings became monthly.
Also, since the first meeting, 21 meth labs have been seized by police, an increase of 600 percent, say county officials.
For the last two weeks, the prayer vigils have turned into nightly revival meetings held in a tent at the park across from the courthouse.
In a state that recently surpassed Missouri as having the most methamphetamine production in the nation, several counties in Tennessee appear to be losing the war on drugs as the result of less funds for enforcement.
Scott County Sheriff Mike Cross and Commissioner David Day say they were desperately looking for answers when they came up with the idea for a prayer rally.
“We had three or four deaths in the county and the sheriff and I had a talk,” Day told The Christian Post. “He said, ‘Man, we just can’t control it. The only one that can control it is God.’ I said let’s have a prayer rally. Let’s get together and pray.”
Day, who attends a Baptist church in Pioneer, told CP that he and the sheriff are men of faith that believe strongly in the power of prayer.
"We seem to look at government for our solutions and a lot of people like myself don't think government can solve these problems,” Cross told a local TV station reporter at the first rally. “It's up to each individual community. I think God is the answer. Washington or Nashville are not the answer. God is the answer."
Chief Deputy Ronnie Phillips told reporters that the county has seen a 600 percent increase in drug arrests, “specifically with meth, since we have had the prayer vigil.”
“We have used every tool that we could to slow down the drug problem that we have here and prayers have been the answer,” Phillips said.
Day said the second prayer rally doubled in attendance to 400 people and that the increasing number of seizures of meth labs since that time has come in amazing ways.
“The meth labs just started falling into our laps. Everywhere the police were going, they were coming up with meth labs. Whether they were serving papers, traffic stops or whatever,” Day explained.
Residents in the county have now met 14 times during the nightly revival meetings, which meet every day but Sunday. A different church leads the non-denominational meeting every night, Day said.
The prayers have extended beyond asking for relief in the meth war, he said.
“We’re praying for jobs and different things. And it’s working, too. Eleven souls have been saved,” Day said. “God is answering our prayers. There is no doubt about it, He is hearing our prayers. I believe in prayer.”
Local Baptist Minister Kermit Phillips is one of the leaders of the revival meetings.
“We still believe, as the Scripture says, righteousness exalts a nation and sins can reproach to any people,” Phillips told local station WBIR-TV recently.