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Baptist pastor Steve Pickern of the Sonrise (geddit?) Community Church in Summerville, Georgia claims that ever since he turned himself into a proselytizing machine in mid-January, after hearing an especially inspiring sermon, he’s brought 186 people into the fold.

Whether at Walmart, a restaurant, pumping gas, or anywhere, the 66-year-old asks others what would happen if they died that day. Sure, some say no to his invitation, but at least one a day since he started has said yes. … Pickern has witnessed to around a dozen people a day ranging from age 10 to 91.

So the clergyman, who has Jesus in the blood (he’s a seventh-generation pastor, he says), proselytizes to kids as young as 10. Fourth-graders. Classy.

The encounters start with Pickern’s question about eternity and then a request for two minutes of that person’s time if they’re not sure. Some days, meeting the goal has been a challenge. One day, the pastor hadn’t led anyone to Christ until his discussion with a Walmart employee gathering carts in the parking lot that night.

Good save, Jesus!

Not every response has been positive — like the guy who called back to Pickern that, yes, not only is he going to hell, but he’s going to ask to be the foreman.

Still, 186 people climbed on the Jesus train upon Pickern’s prodding, he says. It’s unclear whether the editor of the Christian Index who profiled Pickern made an attempt to verify that number.

I broke out the calculator. Only about 4,500 people live in Summerville, and 26,000 in all of Chattooga County, where Summerville is the county seat. According to the Pew Research Center, 18 percent of Georgia’s population is religiously unaffiliated (agnostic, atheist, or nothing particular), but it’s probably less in rural areas like Chattooga.

At Pickern’s claimed conversion rate of 9.3 people per week, he stands to bag 465 souls for Jesus by December 31, the equivalent of roughly 62 percent of Summerville’s non-religious population. It seems implausible, but you never know. Mysterious ways!

I’m going to guess that a lot of the people roped in by this proselytizing pest identified as Christians all along; and that the pastor only regards them as bona fide Jesus lovers after they agree to be baptized. If that’s correct, the number of ostensible converts goes from “impressive” to “meh.”

(Image via Shutterstock)