A ‘must-see’ event, The Tabernacle Experience has been seen by over 200,000 people across the U.S.
Jerry Tharp, pastor of Lone Jack Baptist Church in Lone Jack, Mo. hasn’t been fortunate enough to see The Tabernacle Experience himself. But after several church members experienced it in 2014 when it set up outside Platte City, Mo. they asked him about hosting the traveling life-size replica of Moses’ shrine.
“They were so moved,” says Tharp. “I could tell it had a real impact on their faith. They would do anything to bring it back.”
And with that passion and devotion to see it done, the little church of 150 people is in the middle of a huge undertaking–bringing one of the most popular traveling exhibits in the country to the Kansas City area from Sept. 16 through 25.
Developed by Jeanne Whittaker, a California woman who got the idea while praying on a trip to Israel some twenty years ago, her vision quickly grew into reality with the help of her own church. The Tabernacle Experience is now a detailed and historically accurate replica of Moses’ shrine carried by the Israelites across the Sinai Desert after they were freed from Egypt as told in the book of Exodus. The must-see, hands-on exhibit has been visited by over 200,000 people across the United States and Canada.
But why does a tent, fabric walls and an altar set up in parking lots, fields and church yards across the nation capture the imagination and spiritual aspirations of so many people? Pastor Tharp says it brings the Bible’s words to life and connects the dots to Jesus Christ. “It’s a walk-thru visual of the Old Testament Hebrew worship experience which points to the person of Christ. Our perspective is to look backwards and see how Christ fulfilled the different pieces in the Tabernacle.”
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The exhibit features historically accurate artistically crafted biblical replicas of the Brazen Altar, the Table of Showbread and finally the Ark of the Covenant. State-of-the-art interactive displays take what a visitor sees to a new level that’s understandable to young and old alike whether they be seasoned Christians or just curious individuals who haven’t attended church in a while but are drawn to the ancient worship practices.
It is an event that fascinates not only the Christian community, but communities as a whole. When The Tabernacle Experience visited Saddleback Church in California, over 10,000 people saw it with lines stretching for hours. Teenagers, college students, families with young children, grandparents, pastors, school children and their teachers stood in the rain for their turn to enter. Some described it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience they were not willing to miss.
Many said it was an unexpected emotional experience they will never forget.
Asked how his small church could take on such a project, pastor Tharp chuckled, “Help!” he said. The church has approached and been approached by other churches and organizations who have either attended the event in the past or heard about it and eagerly volunteered their services.
“We’re thankful that others have come along side us to make this a reality,” Tharp says, “but we need more help–especially volunteers to man various positions within the exhibit.”
While the exhibit is mostly self-guided, those volunteers do help in directing worshippers through the various aspects of the tabernacle tent. With the help of audio, they journey through the sanctuary with a 55-minute narration in which they interact at each of nine stations. Jesus Christ is revealed in each aspect of the tabernacle.
“That’s what it is all about,” emphasizes Tharp. “We want people to see the different pieces of the Tabernacle and how they relate to Christ and his fulfillment of them and catapult us into worship of God as well as communicate the message of Christ to those who might be religious but not know him personally.”
The 2016 Tabernacle Experience will take place on a grassy knoll in a field just west of the church located at the corner of the Lone Jack exit on 50 Highway just east of Lee’s Summit.
The Tabernacle Experience will take place Sept. 16 thru 25, rain or shine. Times are: Mon.-Fri. 11am-8pm, Saturday 9am-8pm and Sunday 1pm-8pm. Lone Jack Baptist Church is located at the intersection of Bynum Rd. and 50 Hwy, 202 S Bynum Rd., Lone Jack, Mo.
While the event is free, participants are asked to prayerfully consider a donation of $5 per person or $20 per family. Walk-ins are welcome but you may have to wait for those with reservations. You are highly encouraged to go on-line and reserve your special time to attend though donations/payments can only be taken at the door
For information visit the church website: www.lonejackbaptist.org or to offer a few hours of your time as a volunteer call 816-697-2464.
–By Dwight Widaman | Editor