Aug 06, 2023
Host of evangelical tent revival in Newton says it is a ‘time of celebration’
Worshipers are no longer contained by the walls of a church to connect with God. Underneath the shade of a giant tent near Integrity Cleaning & Restoration on First Avenue East in Newton, Christians
Worshipers are no longer contained by the walls of a church to connect with God. Underneath the shade of a giant tent near Integrity Cleaning & Restoration on First Avenue East in Newton, Christians will gather this week for a tent revival meeting and what some evangelists refer to as healing crusades.
James Miller, owner of Integrity Cleaning & Restoration and host of the tent revival, said the canopied worship events at his business have persisted for the past nine years. The evangelist who facilitates the gatherings is a longtime friend of Miller’s and has held many tent revivals over the years.
“I like to look at it as church outside, but maybe more of a time of celebration,” Miller said. “So it’s a little bit more expressive. The music and preaching will be louder. You’ll see dancing and people having a lot of fun. I don’t know exactly why that is. But it might be because when you’re in a building you’re contained.”
The tent revival is held through Aug. 6 at Integrity, 402 First Ave. E. Youth Night will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 4 with evangelist Jeremiah Strong; Family Night starts at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 5 and features food and games; and Sunday service starts at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Aug. 6 with evangelist Ron Lewis.
Bob Newton of Winfield is organizing the tent revival in town. Newton said he has been putting on tent revivals for the past 20 years, and he describes the events as “taking church outside of church.” In an outdoor setting, he said many passersby on foot or in vehicles are hearing the message of hope.
“In the time we’re living in, people need hope,” Newton said. “Christ came to give us hope. Hope for the hurting. Hope for the lost. Hope for those who feel like they can’t find a way through life. Something about the tent also draws people here. I can’t tell you how many times people asked, ‘Is this a firecracker stand?’”
Newton’s father thought his first tent revival was a circus. There were no animals doing tricks nor a strong man performing enormous feats of strength. Instead, there was a pair of preachers spreading the word of God, and it was that message that made a connection with his father.
“The whole reason I love doing this is because of my dad, who came from a rough life,” Newton said, adding that his father had passed away several years ago. “He was a young boy riding his bicycle to the corner store to get a piece of candy … He saw the tent and he gave his heart to Jesus that night.”
Miller said the experience of a tent revival is much different than what goes on at churches, and it is also a time when people can “feel the presence of God.”
“People may or may not know what that is, but they feel it and they sense it and they know in their mind there’s something different about this,” Miller said. “And it keeps drawing them to come back. So many people who come come all night or come for all the different nights they’re holding it. It’s a lot of fun.”
Miller claimed the tent revivals also inspire a lot of healings, which he said is one of the reasons he hosts the event ever year.
“Over the years I have seen God do some awesome stuff,” he said. “I’ve seen a kid who was in a real bad car accident because he wasn’t living a good life and doing some things he shouldn’t have been doing on a gravel road…He was beat up and in a cast. God healed him. God touched him. All the pain left his body.”
The tent revival is free to attend and is open to all.