Anton Kapusi – Pueblo, Colorado … We all like harvest festivals when the whole neighborhood comes–children, parents, grandparents, or guardians to celebrate the goodness and blessings of our Creator and Sustainer God.
People of all ages are curious about what a Christian-themed harvest festival trunk-or-treat looks like. Pueblo, Colorado has a long-standing tradition of trick-or-treating. Yes, that infamous practice of children and parents dressing up as different characters and going door-to-door to receive treats has been growing in numbers for years in Pueblo. However, due to COVID and ever-growing crime in Pueblo, parents are looking for a safer environment for getting out with their children.
The leadership team at Pueblo First Seventh-day Adventist Church, led by the Outreach and Education Center, decided to use this opportunity to reach the neighborhood and the city in a way we never have before. Looking for volunteers who would decorate their cars, SUVs, or truck trunks with a biblical theme, they got twelve brave volunteers with themes like F.R.O.G.–Fully Rely On God, the Tree of Life, Store Up Your Treasures in Heaven, Plant and Harvest, Jesus is the True Light, and The Ark… to mention just a few.
Since there is no festival without food, drinks, and prizes, those in the church with the gift of grilling, cooking, baking, drink prepping, and Bible trivia knowledge, invested their funds and talents into preparing hundreds of bags of popcorn, hot dogs, grilled corn, boiled peanuts, muffins, cookies, doughnuts, caramel apples, tens of gallons of drinks and dozens of Bible trivia questions with prizes.
Under the watchful eye of the organizers, early Sunday afternoon, October 30, the church parking lot started buzzing with some thirty volunteers setting up their car trunks, a sitting and warming area, food courts, and the Bible trivia station. The security team, easily recognizable in their vests, had their walkie-talkies at their assigned stations. The festival was to officially open at 5 p.m., but the first children in Pokémon, princess, and Spider-Man costumes arrived some fifteen minutes early, officially opening the festival.
The team worked like clockwork. All were at their trunks or tables, engaging with visitors–children, and adults alike. Candies with Bible verses, thematic brochures, Bible stickers, and small and big prizes were ready for giveaways.
This harvest festival was the first of its kind the church had ever attempted, and there were many unknowns. The organizing team tried to think of all scenarios and issues they could face and, prayerfully, found solutions for all. Or so they thought. They hadn’t counted on a crowd of almost a thousand people coming to a church event.
After only half an hour, the food was running low, the prizes were gone, and the supplies at many stations were dwindling. The first three hundred visitors were through, but the line of those who wanted to enter the festival extended beyond the whole length of the parking lot to the corner of the street and bent to the adjacent street. The first lucky visitors were able to park nearby in the street, but most had to walk two blocks from where they found parking in the streets.
Family members and supporting staff ran to get more food, more candies, and more prizes. Closing the event was not an option. We knew God would provide. The visitors didn’t notice any disruption, and those attending their stations were just handed all they needed by a supplying hand “from behind”.
We served more than 800 hot dogs, corn on the cob, and just as many bowls of boiled peanuts. More than 300 baked goods were shared, along with hundreds of caramel apples, thousands of candies, and more than 500 prizes for Bible trivia. It is worth mentioning that a couple hundred brochures for the grades 1-12 Tutoring Program were also shared with parents, and we have already welcomed a few new students.
Members of the organizing team said, “We prayed for God to bring out people, but this was a miracle.” Another person commented: “I was expecting maybe 200-300 people. This is more than a blessing.” The church pastor, Anton Kapusi, excitedly noted, “This was the longest children’s story I ever had. For three hours, I was able to tell Bible stories and make sure that every child and family won a prize!”
Harvest Festival volunteers were exhilarated. The commitment and engagement level in the church is growing and all are waiting to see where the Lord is going to lead next. Since the event, during the Sabbath services, participants gave their testimonies as a group to the congregation, during which visitors from the Harvest Festival attended.
One [volunteer] testified, “Jesus shared bread and fish with people as he preached the gospel; we also shared food, smiles, words of encouragements, and the gospel. The tide is turning in Pueblo, the Holy Spirit is reaching the hearts and minds of the members as well as that of our community. Move on, Pueblo, Move on!”
The promise of the Lord stands, and this is what we at Pueblo strongly embrace: “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.” (2 Chronicles 20:20)
–Anton Kapusi is pastor of Pueblo First Adventist church. Photos supplied.