The Big White Prayer Tent has become an important feature of the Karoo Mighty Men Conference (KMMC), providing new believers with an opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation together with a counsellor, be baptised in water, and be baptised in the Holy Spirit.
Prayer and counselling for conflict in the family, healing from illness, and release from addictions is also provided in the tent, according to Lance Walton, KMMC coordinator of activities in the prayer tent.
“The services offered in the Big White Prayer Tent help to confirm men’s spiritual experience at KMMC and encourage them to make a commitment.
“Each year the prayer tent has grown in size to accommodate the growth in the number of men seeking prayer and counseling.
“Last year between 1 000 and 3 000 men accepted an altar call to salvation on the first night of the conference. They overflowed from the 14-metre-by-40-metre tent.
“This year the tent is a whopping 15-metres-by-50-metres and has an all-aluminum frame without pegs and poles, providing even more space,” says Walton who has a team of between 65 and 70 counsellors serving with him.
He says the team of counsellors to serve the men is large, because so many men are lost, sickly, lonely, oppressed, depressed, dependent on drugs, alcohol or pornography, and are either in need of deliverance or prayer.
“We are faced with men who have many needs from financial to overcoming family conflict and deliverance from demonic spirits,” says Walton.
“We have a team of 15 men who will focus on deliverance.
“Many men haven’t a clue of where to look for love — they only see darkness, so the team is called on to reach out in prayer to the men and their needs.”
The Big White Prayer Tent team consists of men from Churches in Port Elizabeth, East London, Uitenhage, Despatch and Johannesburg, and included pastors and ministers.
“It’s all about winning souls for the Kingdom, ‘Winning the Lost at Any Cost’, helping the unsaved,” says Walton.
“Ministry in the Big White Prayer Tent is Holy Spirit led.
“We are completely dependent on the Holy Spirit for all ministering to the men. We have no rigid programme or plan for serving the men and ministering to their needs, except for prayer and inviting the Holy Spirit to have His way.
“The Big White Prayer Tent team will meet before KMMC begins on Friday, but mainly for prayer and fellowship to create unity for the Holy Spirit’s presence and then hand the tent and ourselves, as His instruments, over to Him.
“The Holy Spirit knows how to heal the sick, comfort the broken hearted and deliver the oppressed,” says Walton.
He believes God for mighty demonstrations of the Holy Spirit in the tent as baptism in the Holy Spirit has become very powerful over the years and all who were prayed for received baptism in the Holy Spirit.
A baptismal bath will be placed just outside the tent, and a dedicated team will assist with baptisms, both in water and the Holy Spirit.
This year newly saved men will receive starter packs, including a book by Angus Buchan “Start the Journey”, to help them build their relationships with the Lord.
Included in each starter pack will be a slip that each man will fill-in with his details that will allow the counseling team to follow-up and help him link with a church near his home.
“We work towards men going back home with a full package of salvation-tools,” says Walton.
“If there are no follow-ups few men are likely to remain committed to their salvation, so the prayer tent team has ensured they provide information for men to start out in their reborn lives and link up with a congregation for support.
“The will of the Father is souls for the Kingdom of heaven, as such our task is to make sure that newly saved men receive the support they need to become established members of the body of Christ.”
Walton says the impact of serving in the prayer tent at KMMC on his own faith has been huge.
“All those serving in the prayer tent have to step out in faith and trust in the Lord. We have to be focused on Christ throughout the weekend, because as we expect much from the Holy Spirit, He expects much from us – it is all about focus and not being distracted.
“However, it has been extremely rewarding to serve men that have experienced salvation and to explain to them God’s promise in Acts 2:38-39 ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call’.
Serving in the Big White Prayer Tent as an instrument in God’s hands and experiencing the way He has changed lives has been an incredibly humbling experience for Jacques Whittle, who will be serving in the tent again this year.
“For the last two years I have actually missed some of the speakers, because of the number of men who enter the tent.
From consumer to contributor
“In the tent you see so many miracles happening. Working in the tent has taken me from being a spiritual consumer at KMMC to being a spiritual contributor. It has created an environment to help realise the vision of men rising up into a living relationship with our Lord.
“There is such an anointing at KMMC with so many men coming together in search of the Lord that it is wonderful to be part of.
“It is such a privilege to experience so many men coming there who do not know the Lord, but thirst for Him and get to know Him over the weekend,” says Whittle.
Like Walton, Whittle has high expectations for KMMC.
“I believe there is a revival happening in our country and I think we are going to see some of that evidence at KMMC.”
He says serving in the Big White Prayer Tent also offers the opportunity of training as his team brings some young Christians to learn about spiritual warfare and how the Holy Spirit works.
Ian Burnett is another who is looking forward to KMMC 2016. He served in the Big White Tent for the first time last year, which he says was an incredible experience.
“To see the sheer volume of men who came through the tent on the Friday night in response to the offer for prayer and to be able to serve men who were so open to receiving prayer was really an enlightening experience.
“The difference in serving at KMMC compared to being part of the audience is remarkable, because you are participating and are witness to what God is doing in men and boys’ lives.”
Burnett says while he found the experience emotionally draining, he believes he has grown in faith as a result of serving in the tent.
Loftie Deyzel, who has attended every KMMC, agrees.
“The only way for you and me to grow in faith and in our relationship with God is to serve,” he says.
He explains that while serving in the tent is demanding, it is also joyful and builds you in the spirit.
“Serving in the tent has enriched my experience of KMMC.
“In the prayer tent the truth is spoken. Firstly, people are being set free, secondly they are baptised and thirdly they are baptised in the Holy Spirit, so Jesus’ Great Commission is fully lived-out in the tent.”
Deyzel says when more than 1 000 men accepted the altar call on the Friday night of the conference last year and came to the tent for prayer and baptism; he could not believe the crowd.
“We felt as though we would be there for a week praying for the men.”
He says many of the men come to the tent for healing from deep hurt.
“The first man I spoke to that came for prayer had walked all the way from Nelspruit. His wife had been murdered in front of him. Then while walking to KMMC, having travelled as far as Kroonstad, he was robbed of his cellphone and his wallet.
“I saw the anger and hurt in his eyes, yet, that night he was set free from the pain and suffering, it was life changing; and to serve him was life changing for me as well,” says Deyzel.
“This year we are taking a team of 15 that will have a roster and serve in shifts for 24-hours a day,” he adds.
Walton says there will be a healing session on Saturday afternoon at 2-o-clock for all men, whatever their needs.
Counseling sessions take place after each service till late at night.
Intercession for each session of KMMC 2016 will also take place in the tent an hour before the start of the session.