Berrien Springs, Michigan—For the fifth year in a row, junior high school students at Ruth Murdoch Elementary School pitched a tent on the campus of Andrews University and preached sermons directed to their peers, as well as the general community.
The Tent, as it’s known, was held for one week in May as a collaborative evangelistic effort between Pioneer Memorial Church youth pastor Ben Martin and Ruth Murdock’s 7th- and 8th-grade students and teachers. There also was a group of parents and Seminary students who assisted in planning and organizing the nightly program. Junior high students were not only responsible for preaching but also singing, greeting, gathering contact cards and operating audio-visual equipment.
It took several months of prayerful advance planning before the meetings were held. For instance, religion teacher, Christopher Davisson, said that before the sermons were written, the eight student evangelists met and spent time during the spring semester in prayer as they waited for the Lord to give each student a message to present.
Not surprisingly, the young preachers’ lives were impacted greatly. Many of them noted in final written reports that the experience brought them into a closer relationship with God and a better understanding of His character and purpose for their lives. “God is no longer the cloud with the lightning bolt in the little kids’ storybooks,” wrote eighth-grader, Lucas Navia. “Now it’s like He’s real and doesn’t want me to do stupid things, even though He knows I will. No matter how far I left, and how stupid the things I did, He will always welcome me back.”
Another eighth-grader, Daniel Randall, noted, “I often doubted if there really was a God, and if He really cared about me or heard my prayers. But after preaching, I know without a single doubt that there is a God, that He does care and that He will provide for you, no matter what.”
The experience not only affected the young preachers’ relationships with God, but also created a special bond between them. “I can go up to any of them now and ask them to pray with me and they won’t be like, ‘Mmm, okay.’ Instead they will gladly do it!” wrote Natalia Poloche.
As a result of the life-changing experience, one student decided to give his life totally to Christ and was baptized. Mugabi Menani said the preaching deepened his walk with God, allowing him to spend more time with God. “I asked Him to take over my life and plant His presence in me.”
Another pleasant outcome of the meetings, says Davisson, is families working together to build up the Kingdom of God. “I have seen families who have been struggling, but this has helped heal their marriages.”