K.R. Mele serves as
childrens pastor at State College Assembly of God (Paul Grabill,
senior pastor) in State College, Pa. The churchs growing childrens
ministry includes a unique witnessing project that shares the gospel
with trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Mele recently talked with Scott
Harrup, associate editor, about this outreach.
PE: What led you to
start a ministry on Halloween?
Many churches give kids alternative activities to counteract the
negative influence of Halloween. A lot of Christian parents either
take their kids to church or stay at home with the lights out or
just stay away for the evening. A visiting speaker to our church
in 2000 challenged our families to get beyond our four walls, and
he talked about a "Light the Night" outreach on Halloween.
I started praying about what we could do on this one night of the
year that we actually have people knocking on our doors. We came
up with a logo for Light the Night and we did it in our community
in 2000 in seven homes.
PE: What do families
encounter at a Light the Night home?
MELE: A participating
home is lit up very brightly. At most of our sites weve used
construction lighting to really brighten it. Out front well
have hot dogs cooking, hot chocolate and hot apple cider, and usually
a TV outside with Veggie Tales playing. Well also have cotton
candy and popcorn machines. Kids can participate at game stations.
They make their way to a puppet stage where a skit presents a salvation
message. After that they can visit a candy bag table where they
receive a bag that says "Jesus Loves You" and contains
candy and an invitation to childrens church on Sunday. Workers
have the opportunity to ask the kids how they enjoyed the puppet
skits and if they have any needs they would like to have someone
pray with them about.
PE: How do older family
had families that have hung out all night at a site because they
feel like its the most fun place to be in their neighborhood.
Its also given adults an opportunity to get to know their
neighbors and actually stand and have some fellowship with them.
Our first year we had one lady who was driving home and said she
felt led to go into one of the participating neighborhoods. When
she came in, she saw all these lights. She didnt have any
children but got out of her car and talked with some of the adult
volunteers. Some of our people prayed with her to accept Christ.
Over the next several weeks a couple from our church continued to
minister to her and had lunch with her.
PE: How has the ministry
MELE: We had seven
homes in our city in 2000. That number grew to multiple homes in
84 cities in 10 states across the country in 2001. We put a kit
together with a promotional video to help churches develop their
own program. Ive also received e-mails from people overseas
who have heard about it. Its reaching beyond the Assemblies
of God. Were already up to about 97 cities for this year,
and were planning to include a follow-up program that will
connect neighborhood kids with sponsoring churches.
PE: Anything else?
MELE: We like
to use Matthew 5:14,16, "You are the light of the world.
Let your light shine before men" (NIV). Thats kind of
become our theme, being a light in a dark world. Especially on this
night that we can make a difference.