by Kathi Pelton
Over the past three days we hosted a 50-hour worship tent in Portland, Oregon for the Awaken the Dawn movement (#tentamerica). When we were asked about sharing testimonies that came forth from our tent I began to ponder what I wanted to share. Although we have testimonies of healings and people experiencing deep touches of God’s love and presence; the true testimony for me was the tent itself. It’s three days standing has become a picture that is forever etched upon my heart.
Our tent was donated by a local church that owned an inexpensive “summer tent.” Purchased for under $100, they were perfect for a warm day event but not for a three day heavy storm. It did have “flaps” that acted as walls, yet they were little more then thin plastic tarps with clear faux windows (and small Velcro strips to hold them in place). The instructions enclosed with the tent clearly stated that it was not meant to remain up overnight and should NOT BE USED in wind or rain.
The weather forecast for our three day (50-hour) event revealed large storms approaching. Our venue was at a high place in our city so the wind is known to be much worse in that location. But, “in faith” we raised our flimsy tent and prayed for God to keep it standing.
The night before we were to start our 50 hours of worship I had a pretty sleepless night as I heard the rain beginning to pour and the wind blowing outside. I thought about how I was about to put thousands of dollars worth of sound equipment and musical instruments (that I didn’t own) into a tent that specifically says, “Do not use in wind or rain.”
The next morning, as we arrived at our tent to set up the sound equipment, I found a completely drenched tent that had taken a hard beating the night before from the harsh weather. My main concern was the sound equipment and the safety of the people who would be coming to worship.
As our team unloaded the equipment we decided to put two heavy duty pop up canopies over our stage area to protect it in case the tent failed; so we had “tents within tents.” We knew that nothing would keep the rain from coming in from the ground so we made sure that all electrical supplies were above the ground so that we would not electrocute our musicians! Then we took zip ties and reinforced the thin walls. Lastly, we used waterproof tape to seal any openings where water was leaking through.
After getting all of the sound equipment, instruments, chairs, lighting, tables, and decorations (even rugs) set up we were ready to go! It looked amazing and so inviting. The excitement was building but so were the black clouds outside. People arrived and our first worship team was about to start up when “boom!”…five minutes before it began all the electricity short circuited leaving us in the dark. As everything turned dark a torrential downpour began that was accompanied by huge gusts of wind. Our faithful worship leaders pulled out an acoustic guitar and began to sing in the dark. Our small team rushed around in the dark and rain trying to figure out how to get our power back on. Some of us searched for circuit boxes, some held the poles to the tent to keep the winds from giving us a “Wizard of Oz” moment, some worked in the dark to seal more leaks. All the while I prayed my heart out for supernatural help! But the worship went on! After about forty minutes of this we suddenly had power again. Our faithful team was soaked to the bone but they went right back into worshipping the One who is worthy of our offering.
Worship was continually beautiful but through each set our tent was taking a beating that surely should have destroyed it within the first hour. The heavy rain poured upon it and the winds whipped it like a kite in the wind and yet it stood!
Due to the harsh weather and need for “all hands on deck” our little team spent the 50 hours onsite more than taking breaks to get much needed rest. We were compelled to protect the sound going forth! Prior to the event the Lord kept saying to me, “Protect the sound.” I didn’t fully realize what He had meant until all of these things began to happen. We would protect the sound through prayer and remaining present!
Hour after hour the most amazing sounds of worship intermingled with the sound of the abundance of rain came forth. And hour after hour this flimsy summer tent stood like a lighthouse in the storm.
It was as if the harder the hits came against this tent the more resilient and steady it became. This cheap tent became a priceless, supernatural sign and wonder to all who came in. As it endured the storms it gained “character” and to us was no longer a cheap, plastic tent but now a true tabernacle of praise. I thought of the words from Romans 5:4-6,
“…endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
By the time we reached the half way mark, our tent had proven its ability to withstand the worst of storms and our confidence and hope grew! It was not going to disappoint us because the love of God was being poured out in it!
As I watched this tent, it became a picture of the Christian life. Storms come upon us that reveal the weak areas that need the strength and love of God. We endure storms that “should” take us down but as we remain in Him we are held up and our character is built. Then hope is produced and that hope does not fail or disappoint us! It is a hope given to us by the Spirit of God. The same Spirit that helps us to endure storms and grow in the hope of Christ was holding up our tent. In our weakness His strength is made manifest just like in the weakness of our physical tent His strength was being made manifest as we put our hope in Him.
What began as a cheap tent became a castle! It stood like His constant faithfulness that is sure and unshakable. So, yes…tents saw healings, experienced deep worship, made proclamation, experienced unity, saw orphans put in family and homeless sheltered…but what happened with our tent will forever impact me.
Our tent became a testimony of how He takes the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and how He takes our weaknesses and in that place causes His strength and faithfulness manifest for all to see!
So. now I am happy to boast in our weak tent because it revealed the strength of our God! He turns paupers into princes, orphans into sons and daughters and plastic tents into tabernacles of praise.
Will you stand with us at this time by sowing into our ministry? We just hosted a 50-hour worship tent after returning from two months of ministry travel. Due to all of these expenses our ministry account is running quite low with many needs coming up. If you would like to help us during this time you can donate through our ministry website at: https://www.inscribeministries.com/
You can also send a US check or international money order in USD to:
15959 SW Sundew Drive
Tigard, Oregon 97223 USA