You might have seen the signs and tents advertising a revival meeting alongside the road. When I was younger, tent revivals were more prevalent and a constant fixture in the middle and rural parts of the country I used to travel as a child with my parents. I always wondered what happened in those meetings and I was curious about the emotions and people who attended them. In the spring of 2010 I discovered one such tent meeting was coming to an area near me so I asked to be allowed to photograph and attend the meetings. The folks putting them on were more than accommodating and allowed me to spend the 10 days they were there documenting the revival.
I saw promises made and people’s lives opened up. I saw fear and longing for a better life, joy and adoration, and most of all I saw love and acceptance. The group that ran the meeting was a Christian motorcycle club called the Christian Crusaders with chapters worldwide. They have been spreading their brand of the Christian gospel as a group from the back of motorcycles for 40 years. The first thing they do when in an area is to set up a kitchen to feed anyone that might be hungry regardless if they attend the meeting or not. They are more than willing to help where it’s needed in any place they find themselves. Pastor Jerry, the head minister, calls their group a service organization whose mission is to help spread the Christian gospel to those that want to hear it. To reach out to people no-one else would–like the outlaw motorcycle clubs–and to provide a safe place for all no matter the group to which they belong.
Days were broken up into two Bible studies led by Pastor Jerry and feeding folks who stopped by to see what was happening. At every space between the campfire and where the bikes were parked, discussions took place on everything from what was the best motorcycle to passages from the Bible.
Nightly sermons started at seven with an hour of music provided by a band made up of members from the group and anyone else that wanted to play along with them. People sang and had coffee or snacks until eight when the sermon began. The sermon was never scripted or from a written statement. Instead the person whose turn it was to give the message spoke about what they found to be important from their studies of the Bible or from something that was current on the news. After the sermon and meeting was over, many gathered back around the campfire to continue the discussion or for personal counseling long into the night.
The essay here is a small part of what I experienced in the 10 days from set-up to take-down and hopefully it shows some of what others who attended experienced as well.
~ Ray Ketcham