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Friday, 23 January 2015

Indiana Revival Report: Day 12

Last night was the first time the preacher actually called for repentance. Remember, this is not about a man or an organization--it's about equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry. So rather than calling people 'forward,' he just had everyone turn to his neighbor and 'confess your sins one to another, that you may be healed.' And it worked.

Oh, and remember the sweaty soccer player who'd invited a friend to the noon meeting? The friend came back for the evening meeting, bringing his dad--who went on to become one of the speakers the very next evening. Can you imagine--teens dragging their parents to a revival meeting?

The teens are totally on board now. They even got a room reserved at one of the high schools so they could literally take the revival there during school hours. Kids are holding hands around the table at lunch as schoolmates pray to receive Christ. School rivalries are dropping away as teens from one school join to pray for teens from another school to have the boldness to request favors from their principal, too.

The Revival has now officially outgrown the building that housed it the first 11 days. There literally is not a church in the area with a building big enough to hold the crowds and their cars, so satellite parking and shuttle service is on the agenda for tonight--and who knows what for next week. There's been talk of an old-fashioned tabernacle building, with plenty of Amish barn-raisers ready to go to work on it.

The building in which the meetings have been held was originally the Goshen Wal-Mart. For being a small city, Goshen has the distinction of actually having two Wal-Marts. The other one was intended to be located in Elkhart, the neighboring metropolis, but when all was said and done its front door ended up on the Goshen side of the border.

At any rate, almost 20 years ago Wal-Mart decided to make this particular Wal-Mart a SuperCenter. There was good reason for this: the Wal-Mart was on the southeast edge of Goshen, within easy van driving distance of over a thousand Amish households. On any day of the week, 15-passenger vans pulling long cargo trailers would pull up and discharge a dozen Amish housewives doing the weekly or monthly shopping. Why not sell them food while they were already there?

So it was that Wal-Mart moved a few hundred yards farther down US 33, into more spacious quarters. But what to do with the old building? It sat vacant for a while, until it was purchased by an entertainment company and turned into a massive movie theater/skating rink/video arcade. If anyone thought that Amish housewives were going to make it a stop on their shopping trips, they could have thought again, and after only a few months of lackluster business, the new complex was shuttered.

Backing up forty years, a man named Mel Shetler had a vision for a conservative Mennonite church in the city of Goshen, reaching out to those in the community from other backgrounds than his own. Thus was started the innocuous-sounding outreach called Maple City Chapel. After a couple of decades, they had wandered a bit from their conservative roots, and taken in a lot of people interested in a more lively sort of church life than what their backgrounds had offered them. That derelict Wal-Mart building seemed just the place to plant a megachurch, and so it was that the skating rink was transformed into an auditorium, and the theaters into classrooms. A bad storm a few years in warped the hardwood floor of the former skating rink, and the insurance settlement replaced it with carpet. Other than the odd oval shape of its auditorium and the high-ceilinged classrooms, the building had now taken on the look of a church capable of handling a congregation of up to 1000 people. By adding overflow seating in the atrium and fellowship area, the maximum capacity reached 2500--as long as the rest of the mall didn't mind sharing their parking spaces. So it was that Maple City Chapel, a popular venue for wedding receptions, banquets, and conventions, became the logical host for the Indiana Revival meetings.

Never has a crowd been so big that every seat was taken--until now. And now, every seat is not nearly enough. Attendance has approached 2000 twice already, and this thing is just getting going.

1 comment:

  1. I pray that this revival keeps growing to other parts of the United States.


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