“Tent of Meetings” an Overflow of Spirit’s Ongoing Work in West Liberty
By Carl Stagner
In Exodus 33:11, the “tent of meeting” is described as a special place where God would speak with Moses “face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” Solemnity and reverence surrounded its use, as the pillar of cloud would descend upon the tent to the sound of the people worshiping the Lord while watching the sacred situation unfold in holy fear. West Liberty First Church of God recognizes the removal of the veil as a golden opportunity to encounter God in similar life-changing fashion. With that in mind, for the past seven years the central Ohio congregation has raised a temporary, open-air structure of their own for the purpose of calling others to close fellowship with their Maker. This year’s eight-day conclave circulated as the “Tent of Meetings” proved especially potent, demonstrating visible overflow of the Spirit’s ongoing work in West Liberty.
From September 10 through 17, people from near and far crammed into the shelter of the giant tent to inquire of the Lord, seek his face and heart, hear from God and, in many cases, find out what all the hubbub was about. Return guests and consistent crowds indicate this was no ordinary tent revival. Immersed in waters of the local Mad River, some thirty believers publicly declared faith in Jesus. Though the unplanned baptism celebrations in the late hours of the night were exhilarating, they were only reflective of what was taking place under the tent, in hearts, souls, minds, and bodies.
“We saw salvation, deliverance, and people laying down their alcohol, pills, and other drugs at the altar,” Pastor Nate Wilcoxon reports. “We had young people aged twenty-five and under coming forward, many flat on their face, praying and turning to Christ. It was the strongest move of God we’ve seen in seven years of this.”
Similar to Sunday morning gatherings at West Liberty First Church of God, the Tent of Meetings services are unscripted and intentionally not programmed. That’s the way the congregation prefers it; these saints express preference for the Holy Spirit’s leading and guiding on the spot. That may translate to finding out in the eleventh hour who would fill the roster of speakers—or, as Pastor Nate likes to call them, ambassadors for Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 5:20), but that’s familiar uncomfortable territory. These on-fire believers aren’t content with comfortable, anyway. They’ve been called to illuminate the darkness, and without spark in their souls and a little fire in their belly, that simply can’t happen.
“If Jesus is in it, then all we have to do is be obedient and show up,” Pastor Nate reflects. “Today everything’s about hype, but all we want is Jesus. It’s about his strength, his presence, his power. Though I also preached that week, I didn’t need to. I have at least fifteen leaders who could preach the Word of God. I don’t mind getting out of the way and letting God work. We know the tent today is really inside us—what Jesus is doing in you—but this tent set up in Lions Park in West Liberty, Ohio, is a special place for all of us.”
Revival-like events and worship services held under tent-like structures are often associated with relics of a bygone era, completely out of touch with current trends, ministry strategies, and perceived needs of the not-yet-saved. Preconceived notions of those who embrace certain seemingly old-fashioned methodologies might include the sound of stale singing of slow, old songs staggered by legalistic preaching and an overall tone of societal condemnation. But worship at West Liberty First Church of God is lively and current, punctuated by preaching that is remarkably conversational, practical, and powerful. Every service under the tent and under the steeple is deliberately bathed in prayer, and believers are admonished to go out and infiltrate every sector of society with good works and influence in the name of Christ.
“The Holy Spirit is in charge when we come together under that tent,” Pastor Nate concludes. “We are not in charge. The anointing is found in the surrender. The surrender is only found when one gets sick and tired of being sick and tired. You bow down to the King in surrender. Then, when you get up, he clothes you with his strength and power. Jesus is enough! Jesus is the agenda! Jesus still saves and sets the captives free. It’s in the surrender that we can see the Savior in what he wants of us, and who we are to be.”
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.