Thousands of people drive on Highway 29 each day, through Franklin Springs, passing Emmanuel College and on to Royston. It may be small-town America, yet it’s a very busy highway. There’re people driving through needing love, encouragement or prayer. Yet, some are hesitant to step through church doors to receive it.
This past summer, EC Alumnus Austin Farrow (’16) and EC student Travis Todd, decided to do something. Austin, Youth and College Pastor at Franklin Springs IPHC, and Travis, Associate Pastor, were given a Friday afternoon off. Instead of going home to relax, they saw this as an opportunity to serve.
In the past few years, Austin has felt led to pray for people in public, whether it be at a business, in line at the grocery store or on EC’s campus. So, when he and Travis were told they could go home early, they came up with a way to spread God’s love throughout the community.
Travis also serves as the manager of Radio Shack in Royston, so the two decided to set up a tent outside of the store with a simple sign, “Need Prayer?”
“The first time we set up the tent, a couple of people showed up to pray,” Austin said. “There were a lot of people honking and giving us a thumbs up, but very few stopped.”
The following Friday, but, there were so many people stopping, Austin doesn’t remember sitting down.
“From 12-4, it was one after the other,” Austin said. “We prayed for people that needed healing and wanted to rededicate their life to Christ. I would say to this point there have been more heart healings than physical healings.”
Each Friday, Austin, Travis and a group of students from Emmanuel serve at the Prayer Tent. But for them, the Prayer Tent isn’t about Franklin Springs IPHC or Emmanuel, it’s about Jesus.
“It’s about Jesus,” Austin reiterated. “That’s why we don’t put up signage promoting the Springs Church or EC. But instead try to reach out to the community through prayer. That’s what this community needs.”
Where did the idea for the Prayer Tent come from?
“We thought we could reach more people this way,” Austin said. “At the prayer tent we can pray over the city and for God to touch people as they drive by.”
What advice would Austin give to students interested in getting involved in the Prayer Tent?
“Before you can love someone else you must love yourself,” Austin said. “We’ve all sinned. Don’t let your sins get in the way of getting to know God. If I could say anything to students it would be that they have an opportunity in Christ to start fresh.”
Austin says that when he points a person to the prayer tent, he wants to first know about their relationship with God.
“I’ve witnessed a lot of people get burnt out,” Austin said. “They want to win the world, but can’t even clean their room. Spirituality is so much more than a Prayer Tent. It starts inside.”
For Austin, the reason why he and Travis started the Prayer Tent is simple: the world needs to feel God’s love.
“We don’t invite people to church, we try to give them hope,” Austin said. “Even if it’s somebody giving us thumbs up as they drive by, all they need is that reminder to pray. People need to know they are loved. That love will change this community and it’s going to happen.”