Firstly, one should ask what Hughes perspective was before his so-called salvation and how this had changed. We learn that before the revival service he was, as he calls it, 'a sinner' and that his aunt had convinced him that he needed redemption. The service would change all that because
... when you were saved you saw a light, and something happened to you inside! And Jesus came into your life! And God was with you from then on! She said you could see and hear and feel Jesus in your soul.
Throughout the service, the twelve-year-old Langston waited for something to happen to him. Nothing happened, whilst all around him, other youngsters went forward to the pulpit to be saved. Langston sat, as he said, 'waiting to see Jesus.' He was convinced that he would actually see Christ and could not understand the metaphoric sense of what his aunt had said.
Only he and another boy (Westley) had resisted the urgings of the congregants. Eventually, his temporary companion went up to be saved and he was alone on the mourner's bench.
'I kept waiting serenely for Jesus, waiting, waiting - but he didn't come. I wanted to see him, but nothing happened to me. Nothing! I wanted something to happen to me, but nothing happened'.
He later felt pressurised since it was getting late and the preacher had personally urged him. His aunt was also literally begging him to go forward. What finally made up his mind was the following observation:
I began to wonder what God thought about Westley, who certainly hadn't seen Jesus either, but who was now sitting proudly on the platform, swinging his knickerbockered legs and grinning down at me, surrounded by deacons and old women on their knees praying. God had not struck Westley dead for taking his name in vain or for lying in the temple.
Langston then decided to save further trouble and to lie as Westley did. He went forward to be saved, much to the jubilation of the churchgoers.
In bed, that evening, he was overcome by an unstoppable grief. He cried copiously and could not stop himself. Langston was experiencing overwhelming remorse. His aunt believed that he was crying because the spirit of God had entered him. He, however, knew differently:
But I was really crying because I couldn't bear to tell her that I had lied, that I had deceived everybody in the church, that I hadn't seen Jesus, and that now I didn't believe there was a Jesus anymore, since he didn't come to help me.
Hughes was overwhelmed by the realisation firstly, that he was a greater sinner than before since he had lied in the church. He had been dishonest to his aunt, the preacher and the congregation. Secondly, he believed that he would see Christ. When that did not happen, he lost his faith, for Jesus did not come to save him from lying. The thought that the Saviour was not there to help him from committing sin was devastating. Previously, at least, even though he was a sinner, he had faith, but now he has also lost that.