Student laughter flooded the lawn in front of Brock Hall as pastor Ron Halverson Jr. spoke Monday night on the first evening of InTents, a week of prayer held every fall semester at Southern Adventist University.
Halverson used humorous anecdotes from his life to illustrate the concept of 2 Corinthians 12:9, how God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Halverson will speak for each InTents service this week, with all messages centering on this year’s theme: “Amazing Grace.”
Halverson’s message began with what he called a “heavy message from the weight room,” in which he told a story of when he got stuck under a weight bar because he tried to lift more than he could handle. He was stuck at the weight bench for 30 minutes before being rescued by two high school boys. Once they had finished laughing, Halverson wrapped up the story for the students with this message: “It’s better to be humbled and set free than to be stuck at the bench.”
During the course of the evening he constantly reminded the audience that humans are not strong enough to carry their own struggles.
“If anyone is carrying a heavy load tonight, I’d like to let you know you’re carrying the wrong burden,” Halverson said. “Jesus wants to take the heavy load; He will give you the light one.”
Halverson began his message in the weight room, but ended with a lesson from the living room, telling the story of the first time his six-year-old son beat him at “dogball” (their version of football). His son was losing until he stopped, put his hands together, and prayed, “Dear Jesus, please let me win.” Halverson laughed so hard that his son slipped by him and won!
Monday’s message spoke to the point that sometimes it takes a heavy load to show us that we need to call on God to be set free from our struggles. Halverson's closing prayer was simple and meaningful: “Dear Jesus, please let us win.”
This kind of uncomplicated and practical wisdom is what Jon Remitera, assistant chaplain, is aspiring for this week.
“Jesus Christ was simple, yet profound,” Remitera said. “I want the students to focus on the message, on what the Spirit is trying to teach us.”
That is why this year’s InTents has a different seating arrangement than previous years. The stage is placed in the middle of the tent and not the front. This encourages students to get closer to the speaker make the evening more personal. Remitera and Halverson also hope that centering the stage will help center the message.
“The message of this week means everything,” Halverson said. “Amazing grace is all about what Jesus has done for us, and all we need to do is lift Him up.”
InTents will continue nightly through Thursday at 7 p.m. and Friday at 8 p.m. All services are located in the tent in front of Brock Hall and the public is welcome.