Saving Appalachia: The Story of CT Townsend


Nearly two decades ago a young student at West Virginia State University was working a part-time job for a downtown Charleston hotel.  One afternoon while driving to Yeager airport to pick up a hotel guest, the freshman business major found a long-deceased Baptist minister preaching on the radio dial.

Soon, as the hotel-owned vehicles winded through the Mountain State’s capitol city en route to the local airport, the young student found himself listening to every word of the gospel preacher’s message.

“I was approaching the airport when the preacher said, ‘So many problems in this world can be fixed by a dedicated and sincere gospel preacher.'”

“His words struck to my core and by the time I opened the car door at the airport, I found myself praying, saying, ‘Lord, if you’ll have me, I’ll be that person.'”

This young man’s name is CT Townsend, and he never finished earning that business degree he was pursuing.

“I didn’t want to just live my life, make money and die — I felt like God had a different plan for my life — a plan to help people.”

Within a year’s time of praying that prayer on the property of West Virginia’s largest airport, the Kanawha County born kid-turned preacher had enrolled into a theological college in South Carolina and quickly rose to prominence in a school dedicated to turning out ministers of the cross.

At the time of his graduation in 2007, the Charleston native had become a full-time evangelist and was soon a much sought after preacher in Baptist circles.

The West Virginia born preacher would spend the next nine years faithfully fulfilling his promise; however, never in his wildest dreams could he imagine what the year 2016 would bring.

“We had a one week revival scheduled in Burlington, North Carolina, at New Hope Baptist Church.  The meeting got so good and people were getting so much help that we made the decision to continue the revival an extra week,” said Townsend.

“The revival started in the church, but bled into the community and then into a national meeting.”

With multiple individuals getting help and some making a decision to begin a new life for Christ, revival leaders made the decision to extend the meeting and in short time, the meeting had outgrown the church.

“We borrowed a giant tent and the first night saw over 2,800 people at the meeting in North Carolina,” said Townsend, adding, “Two weeks later, we had over 5,000 people at the meeting.”

In the end, the revival meeting lasted for three months and over 1,200 people made professions of faith.

Quick to give all credit to God, Townsend stated, “That meeting made a lot of church people across this country stand up and take notice — people realized, ‘Hey, God’s still active and doing things.  He can still send revival for people who get hungry, humble and pray.”

A native of Appalachia, the 36-year-old evangelist says that the problems of his native region weigh upon him constantly.

“Every time I go back home and preach, I talk to parents whose children are on drugs and learn of even more lives that are ruined.”

“Poverty has always been rampant in our area, but when the mines closed a lot of people were left with few options and running drugs became easy money for some people and the drugs were an easy way to forget their problems for many others — it’s a spiritual attack and I’m burdened by it.”

Recognizing the problems plaguing the mountains of Appalachia, Townsend has set his sights on the region, planning a massive crusade / tent meeting for the spring of 2018 in Bristol, Tennessee / Virginia.

“Bristol in a central area for a lot of churches and we’re praying for God to send people who are hurting, hungry and ready for a change in their spiritual life.”

The upcoming revival meeting is the work of over 75 churches in the region from several states and Townsend says it is his prayer that the meeting will leave a lasting mark upon the troubled souls of Appalachia.

“I can’t take any credit for what God has done in my life.  He’s opened doors and protected us all along the way.  It hasn’t been easy doing what we’ve been blessed to do.  We’ve had to bury a baby and it sure hasn’t been all laughter and smiles,” said the West Virginia born preacher.

Townsend’s May 2018 revival will be held at the Belle Meadows Baptist Church in Bristol the last two weeks of May.

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