Monday, July 25, 2011

Christ Significant? Powerful Answer Playing Out Across US by Team 99

A Feature by Rev. Austin Miles

Beaten down Christians including pastors from their pulpits are bemoaning what they describe as the slow death of Christian influence in today’s society which makes many soon-to-be-defeated Christians wring their hands in despair while whimpering,, “What’s the use?” And as a result of giving up and giving in, they are doing NOTHING to change that perception by positive action such as that being exhibited nationally by “Team 99.”

Rev. Tyrone Holmes, pastor of the newly formed, His Praise Worship Center, in Antioch, California, preached a powerful eye-opener Sunday about defeating the lie with truth. He said we bite into the devil’s lies like Eve bit into the apple which brought chaos for her and Adam, whom she convinced to take a bite as well, causing chaos for every generation since.

Then, Pastor Tye said, “And like Sleeping beauty, we bite into that apple and fall asleep while everything goes on around us unapposed when we should be standing strong and proclaiming truth.

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Next he intrdouced a young man named Larry who told about an event taking place at an area mall called, “Team 99” that is bringing truth to young people all over America. This writer went last evening to check it out.

In the parking lot of the Sommersville Towne Center, a mall in Antioch, a huge circus type tent is set up with a trailer and 3 semi-trucks. Outside the ‘air structured’ tent, which means no poles or inflatable air devices, but with a spring like pop-up sort of structure holding up the big top.

A performance stage is outside the main entrance with a variety of entertainment including music groups, high school bands, and stunt performances to entertain the crowds forming long lines with sometimes 2 and 3 hour waits.

The crowd movement inside is choreographed taking specators in and out of several canvas rooms where a dramatic scene is portrayed of various lifestyles that entice teens and young adults, which leads to their destruction. One thing for sure. This does not consist of ‘exhibits.’ Team 99 is a full fledged production.

After watching a video clip of what to expect and what is expected of visitors (“Don’t touch the actors even if they touch you.”) the guests are escorted to a dimly lit room with a cage in the center. Inside the cage is a black hooded creature standing quielty. The creature slowly comes to life, speaks to the gathering, then opens a door on the side of cage allowing him to step into the audience causing some chills. The creature then beckons the crowd to follow what would be their tour-guide host.

The first room was an enactment of a serious car accident caused by texting and driving, and drinking and driving. The scene is gruesome. with professional make-up artistry making it all look totally real.while the host talks about his triumph.

Next everyone was escorted to a room of violence and sin with a totally disfunctional family, drinking, drugs and yelling. Next was a crack-house with stoned kids who were like zombies. A young girl pleaded with spectators to help her get a fix. The bondage of addiction was shown as it is.

An emotional cemetery scene showed people weeping over a casket before the burial of a teen-ager who had died in violence. The next scene shows a video of a young girl getting ready to commit suicide and is taping a last statement to her parents and her friends. At the end of the clip, the visitors go by the body of the young girl seen in the video.

Near the end, the visitors wind up in a coal mine, then find that the space they are standing in is an elevator that will take them down to the pits of existence. The sound effects, the darkness and the shaking floor gives the full illusion of plunging downward. As the elevator stops abruptly, screaming sounds are heard. The host leads us into a place of toment with chained suffering people. The host takes his spot and lifts his black hood to reveal himself as Satan.

The host from hell is very pleased with his accomplishments and how he was able to convince everyone there that what they were doing in life was absolutely great and…he chuckles…they believed me. The actors, made up to appear as the living dead, made it all so real that most everyone felt chills up their spine.

The next room reveals a scene behind a scrim showing the trial of Jesus, and the beating He took, then forced him to pick up his cross, walk out of the room, across the front of the crowd and outside. When the audience was escorted there, Jesus with his battered bloody body was hanging from the cross as cruel Roman soldiers torment him.

The final room had a guest pastor, Sunday night it was Associate Pastor Steve Miner from Cornerstone Church, who spoke, then showed a film about a man in Europe who loved his son, and was faced with a horrible choice of taking an action that would kill his son but save an entire train full of passengers of every stripe and persuasion including a woman with a drug addiction.
In his heart wrenching decision to save the train full of passengers by sacrificing his beloved son was an analogy of God sacrificing His beloved Son so that the world would have a path to salvation, explained Pastor Steve.

Coming out of that exhibit there were many, many counselors from area churches sitting at tables, available for one on one encounters with young people wanting to talk and discuss life. And scores of them wanted to talk.

Salvations of hundreds of people take place regularly. And that builds nightly during the three week stays of that event. By the night I was there, there had been 1,995 salvations. This number is not estimated by the showing of hands. This number and all the others is by written statements of those who gave their hearts and lives to God.

The heart of this production is to re-inact poor choices that can be made and why and how to avoid them. And the presentation is powerful!

Terry Henshaw, an alumnus of Oral Roberts University is one of the original founders of this huge project. Area churches take part. In Antioch, where it will appear until the 30th, about 30 churches are involved, providing volunteer help including counselors, workers, security that are furnished uniforms, the actors, 250 each night and prayer warriors who pray near each room, They are given meals provided by area restaurants.

This venture is incredibly well organized, managed and smooth running. “Team 99” travels all year with 3 weeks off for Christmas. It is a fully dedicated venture which has national sponsors and is debt free. Everything is donated.

Fourteen college interns travel with the unit, devoting an entire year of their lives to reach their generation with the truth of Christ. They stay in host homes provided by the churches as they travel.
And they ARE reaching their generation. So far over 80,000 young people have been documented as giving their hearts to Christ. through this program. Which means, a changed life by staying away from those things trying to entice them that can wind up in violence, illness and death. This is why all communities, once they see this in operation, welcome it with open arms. They are making better citizens of our young people who represent the future which makes all communities better.

A second unit is planned. Presently thousands of emails come to the home office with testimonies of those whose lives were changed because of this presentation.

Oh yes, and what IS the 99 title? That is the average number of deaths among the youth of America EVERY DAY due to drugs, alcohol, suicide, auto accidents, disease and natural causes. Tomorrow, 31 will die in car accidents, 16 will die in homicides and 12 will commit suicide..unless their lives are changed.

THIS is what Team 99 is all about. Educating young people to make the right choices, say ‘no’ to things offered, no matter how charming the offer, introduce them to Jesus so they will have that backing strength and peace surrounding them.

Look forward to this event coming to your city. Support them. It would be difficult to imagine anything more important than saving our young people…our kids.

Visit their website at: