DULUTH – There are 79 verses in the Bible about “tents”. The Hebrew word pronounced “oh-hale” means “a tent,” more specifically, “a traveler’s tent.” It is translated into English as either “tent” or “tabernacle”.
The “tent “ or “tabernacle” is often thought of as the place where God dwells. Today, Christ’s followers have become the tabernacles, the place where God dwells. However, today a variety of churches are using tents – material, physical tents – for revivals, wild game dinners, picnics, groundbreaking ceremonies, homecomings, fall festivals, children’s camps, Vacation Bible Schools, and multiple ministry events.
The Georgia Baptist Mission Board has a selection of three tents that are available to those who may be interested in securing one for a ministry event. The small tent (40’ by 80’) seats approximately 500-theater style. The medium Tent (60’ by 90’) seats approximately 750-theater style. The large Tent (60’ by 150’) seats approximately 1,000 to 1,250-theater style.
Last year The Christian Index reported about the revival that was held under a tent in Burlington, NC for 11 weeks with more than 1,250 people accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Using tents for Christian outreach and other special events is not a thing of the past. In fact, tents are in vogue not only for church events, but also for convention meetings and receptions at some of the most prestigious hotels in the nation.
Last year some churches used the tents for evangelistic events and saw almost 700 people come to faith in Christ under the canvas tabernacles. Other churches used the tents for service projects and ministry events and demonstrated the love of Christ in the communities where they were erected. Yet others used the tents to enhance their fellowship or celebrate special events.
Priscilla Birdsong, spokesperson for Maximum Impact Ministries in Atlanta, indicated that the ministry she represents has secured the medium tent twice a year for at least five years in order to bless the people who live east of Atlanta in the area of Fulton Industrial Boulevard.
Maximum Impact Ministries sets up the tent in the spring and again at the beginning of the school year to pass out clothing, food supplies, and items of hygiene to needy families in the area. At the beginning of the school year there is the addition of backpacks or book bags filled with school supplies for children. There are approximately 3,500 people who come to the tents each May and August. There are Christian witnesses there to pray for the people who come into the tent; the Gospel is shared and every year hundreds come to faith in Christ.
Clayton Baptist Church used the largest tent last year for a community-wide revival and plans to use it again this year according to Yance Thompson, the church’s director of evangelism and discipleship. Thompson stated that the tent was placed on a hill on Highway 441 between the WalMart and Home Depot stores where it was very visible to the community.
To save a life
“We probably averaged 1,000 in attendance for the nights of the revival and had 26 people saved.” Thompson added. “It was wonderful to see a good number of the churches come together to support the revival effort. In fact, several of the churches meet every quarter in a different church for the purpose of community, fellowship, and accountability. It has been great for the town of Clayton. We will rent the tent again this year and come together for our fifth combined revival/evangelistic effort.”
Mark Brown, a layman at Rocky Grove Baptist Church near Clayton was present under the tent as preparations were being made for the first service and noticed a young man seated in one of the chairs nearby with his head down and knew something was troubling him. He tried to witness to him, but in the course of the conversation he discovered that the man had swallowed a bag of methamphetamines. He was taken to the hospital, the bag was extracted, and the man’s life was saved.
Brown, who is the recipient of a double lung transplant, went to the hospital to see the man the next day thinking he would be more receptive to the Gospel, but the man was gone. His soul was not saved, but his life was saved, because he was somehow attracted to the tent.
The Colquitt County Association has been using a GBMB tent since 1999 for the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo. They use the medium sized tent and have 2,000-3,000 people come through their tent every year. Under the tent people can hear a variety of music, including Southern Gospel and Blue Grass, from morning until late afternoon for the three days of the Expo.
The tent also provides adequate space for all kinds of displays and there is always a booth where Gospel presentations are made and people are led to faith in Christ. Last October there were 238 individuals who made professions of faith under the tent and there were 125 rededications.
In an Open Door column from last year, Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director Dr. J. Robert White stated, “ I encourage you to think about planning an event for which you can use these beautiful tents. We will provide the guidance to put the tents up and take them down. Your people will love the unique environment of worshiping in the tent. People from the community may very well be drawn to a time of worship under the tent when they would not otherwise attend.”
Go here for more information about the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s selection of tents available for your use.