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Revealing the Trick Behind the Treat


Revealing the Trick Behind the Treat

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Like a candle in the midst of the darkness, for the past 19 years Oak Creek (Wisconsin) Assembly of God has been producing an illustrated "Halloween week" sermon that borders on the line of a theatrical production to communicate the truth about God's love and Satan's lies.

Located just south of Milwaukee, Oak Creek AG annually produces the program, Trick or Treat. Written by Senior Pastor Jerry Brooks and former staff pastor Tony Handy, Trick or Treat features Brooks sharing a sermon that is punctuated with live action scenes, which illustrate the message.

For the past two years, Creative Arts and Executive Pastor Ken Beach has been heading up the production of Trick or Treat. Relatively new to the church, having spent years ministering across the U.S. and utilizing theatrical productions in outreaches, he says Trick or Treat is one of the strongest productions he has ever been a part of and rivals the church's success in any of its other outreaches, including Easter.

"In Trick or Treat, the gospel is presented in simplicity so people can really understand it," Beach says. "The message deals with the devices of Satan, how what he offers may seem like a treat, but then the trick is the backstory of the whole production."

Beach explains that Brooks preaches in and out of multiple vignettes that help bring the "trick" (the lies) of Satan to light, and that religion, titles, works, and even relationships with friends or family who are Christians are not keys to heaven.

"Only a personal relationship with Christ will allow a person into heaven," Beach says. "We peel away the lies of the enemy that 'you're not good enough' and 'you've committed too many sins,' but in the end, it's still about a personal relationship with Christ.

"It's no exaggeration to say that over the years thousands have decided to follow Christ as a result of this event," Beach says. "Hundreds come to Christ each year. 

Written in 1996, the Trick or Treat script has hardly changed, but Beach says they do update and emphasize scenes through the use of music, lights, smoke, and sound effects. "In one scene, we have a biker gang and up to half-a-dozen motorcycles come roaring out onto the platform," he says.

But the sound, visual effects, and even the message itself might be wasted if it wasn't for the follow-up.

"Once people make a decision for Christ," Beach explains, "cast members come down from the stage, escort them to prayer rooms, provide them with literature that explains their decision to follow Christ, pray with them, and then, over the next several weeks, call them periodically to see how they're doing and offer to pray with them."

Tom Murray is a Missions and Christian Education pastor for Oak Creek AG. He is also a member of the Trick or Treat cast.

"It is a privilege to get to meet so many people who have just made a decision for Christ," Murray says. "I enjoy getting to hear their stories, their backgrounds, and having the opportunity to hear about their new found hope in Christ -- it is an exciting part of being a part of the production."

Beach says the although there is some online promotion through social media, most people are personally invited to the event, meaning many times those in attendance are friends and family members of church members and the cast itself.

"I hear testimonies all the time in our cast prayer times, stories of how family members, people they work with, friends who responded to the altar call," Beach says. "The stories occur over and over again."

Murray says that each year the cast is a healthy mix of veterans and newcomers, which is a benefit to the church as more people develop their spiritual lives.

"Being a part of the cast, coming down and praying with people, helps you get over the fear of talking to others about faith and salvation," Murray says. "For a lot of us, it forces us out of our comfort zone to have those conversations with people about the decision they have just made. Sometimes the scary part is that we're unsure we'll have the right words to say, but what I've found is that the Holy Spirit has always given me the right words to say . . . our conversations are orchestrated by the Holy Spirit!"

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