South Dayton Baptist Church in Moraine, Ohio hosted their first tent revival since 1961. Through the four day revival five pastors brought messages and preached their hearts to the crowds.
Dr. Terry VanBuskirk of Taylorsville, Utah was the main evangelist and preached five services in the four days. Also speaking were retired pastor Kenneth Leech, Pastor Terrell Hudson of Moraine Heights Baptist Church and South DaytonŐs own pastor, Pastor Steve Thornhill and Evangelist Michael Adams.
The following interview was held between this writer and Pastor Steve Thornhill.
Isaiah Michael: A tent revival? Just what is a tent revival? Is this not something of the past?
Pastor Steve: A tent revival is something that was done a lot in the past but has become a rare occurrence in the church today. If you look at the condition of the churches in America today, you will see that a revival is needed. Where is the church? Why aren't they standing on the truth of the bible?
Revival is not about winning souls as the lost are not "vived" or living in the first place. Revival is about believers getting on fire for God and being revived. Now the lost can be saved at these meetings and praise God for those that are but it is the believers that need to get back to their first love like Revelation talks about in chapter 2 to the church of Ephesus. God commends the church of Ephesus on many things but in verse 4 he says, "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." Many of us when we where first saved were on fire. We told everybody about what Jesus did for us, wore Christians t-shirts, and listened to Christian music, etc.. Then what happened? We got away from God and put other things in God's place and loved them more than we did Him. The church needs revival. Whether it's in a tent, the building, or the park is irrelevant, but it needs to be done. We liked the tent idea as it was like the old times in simplicity and it was something different than being in the sanctuary. Also, our church was started by a tent revival so it was celebrating God moving the people over 50 years ago to start a church on our very location we have today.
Isaiah Michael: The evangelist Dr. Terry VanBuskirk came across country from Utah, how did you find him?
PS: One of our members and Evangelist Michael Adams was studying through Salt Lake Bible college where Dr. Terry VanBuskirk serves as president. He told me about him also being an evangelist and said he travels to wherever God leads. I contacted him and the rest is history. We were actually already talking about having a revival much like the one that started the church over 50 years ago.
I M: Tell me a little about the tent? Who supplied it and who put it up?
PS: The tent was supplied by Doc Van (Dr. Terry VanBuskirk) and with the help of many in our church and Doc Van leading us, we put it up on the Saturday. Our revival started on Sunday.
IM: How would you describe the results of the four day, five service tent revival?
PS: The results where not what I was expecting. As one of Doc Van's messages talked about, God's thoughts are not our thoughts. I had this idea that we would see lost people saved. But like one of Doc's messages said, it's the believers or "vived" that need to be revived. And we had many come forward to be revived and on the last night we saw almost everybody in the tent come down to commit to following God first.
IM: You also had a special for the children on Monday Memorial Day, can you tell me about that?
PS: Yes, we had Rick Teepen who has the show "Snakes Alive" come to talk to the kids. I saw his show at the Creation Museum on two occasions and liked the way he shared the gospel through God's creation. Part of that creation includes snakes. It's amazing on how unique and beautiful God created snakes. Rick shared on how that if God took that much care to create them, how much more care did he take to create us since we are his special creation and we have the capability to actually come to a saving knowledge of God. It was a great show and even the adults learned something and where encouraged. I know seeds where planted. Being revived and seeing children and adults come to know the Lord is something that a revival can do.
IM: How well was this revival received by the community? How was the attendance each night?
PS: I would of loved to have seen more people in the community come but we had some things going against us. It was Memorial Day weekend and many people where out of town. Secondly, it was very hot outside and some people told me personally they couldn't handle the heat.
But we had several members of different churches and even their Pastors come, and we are so thankful for their support. One thing that was discouraging is that we called some churches and talked to the Pastors and they seemed like they where not interested at all. Maybe they thought we where trying to steal their sheep or they didn't like revivals but I believe it's this type of attitude that has hurt the church and not helped the church. Maybe we just took it this way and they where just busy. I'm not sure of the exact attendance but we probably averaged 30 a night.
IM: How many revivals have you had at South Dayton Baptist Church? How does this compare to any you have been involved with?
PS: We have had short revivals or one day events with different evangelist and such, but only one that was 3 days in the 9 years I have been pastor. This one will always be one that we will remember. I believe it was and is a changing point for our church's future.
IM: There were probably many highlights through the tent revival, what sticks out for you?
PS: The one thing that sticks out to me was the last night that we where challenged to come and follow God first. Doc Van preached about Joshua challenging the people to follow God. He said, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
IM: Will this be the only tent revival, a one time event or do you have plans for this to be a yearly event?
PS: I always believed in praying about what God would have us do. We will be doing something but what It is, I'm not sure. As a church, we will be praying. God always gives us unity and opens the doors and we just need to follow.
IM: What are your final words on the tent revival? Is there anything else you can ad we did not discuss?
PS: Yes, if you decide to do something like this, know that Satan will attack. We had our phones go out, printer break down, sound system blow, etc.. But God always showed us He was in complete control. One example is another pastor happened to have bought a whole new sound system and gave us his old sound board. It was nicer than the one we had. God is good!!! So don't let these things get in the way of serving God. Our God is a Big God! The bible says in Psalms 50:10 "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills"
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