Down on the farm


Farm Fest provides a great outlet for students to interact with and witness to hundreds of high school students. Photo: Submitted

Since 1986, BJU has ministered to thousands of teens in the Southeast through Farm Fest, an evangelistic outreach that will take place this year on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

While at Farm Fest, teens (grades 7-12) play carnival-style games, eat lots of food and just have fun, but they will also gather under the “big tent” for three preaching services. This year evangelist Todd Sivnksty will preach, challenging the teens about their walk with God.

For Abbie Rysta, a sophomore early childhood education major, Farm Fest is more than just a day of fun and games; it’s the event where she came to know Christ. As a junior-higher, she realized her need during one of the services. “It just hit me,” Rysta said. “I realized it didn’t matter what prayer I had prayed in the past. It was God that I needed to trust in to save me.”

Mr. David Orr, Welcome Center manager, said each year many teens, like Rysta, make salvation decisions and commitments to follow after God.

Junior Bible major Mike Betancourt also went to Farm Fest when he was in high school, then worked at Farm Fest his freshman year and sang in the evangelistic services last year. He enjoys meeting new people at Farm Fest and developing friendships.

Orr encouraged students who are working at Farm Fest to focus on more than fulfilling a class requirement. Focus on impacting the teens who come. “We want to put into Farm Fest a love for the lives God sends us that day,” he said.

BJU students will have many opportunities to touch the lives of those coming. According to Betancourt, having one-on-one conversations with the teens while they’re waiting in line for a carnival game is one of the best ways to impact them. “I want to leave a good taste in their mouths, especially the unsaved, about what Christianity really is,” he said.

Rysta said the atmosphere of games and activities always caused her to let her guard down and made her more comfortable to go into the tent for the services. She encouraged students who will help at Farm Fest to be outgoing and to try to put the teens at ease. “The games and activities are [meant] to get the kids to open up and build a relationship,” Rysta said.

According to Orr, those who have helped with Farm Fest always say that it’s an exciting opportunity. “It’s fun to hang out with your friends, but the main purpose [of Farm Fest] is the teens that are coming, and we want to focus on them,” he said.