Taking It to the Streets
Volunteers canvas Charleston to generate excitement
September 19, 2008 - Each Franklin Graham Festival is supported by the hard work of volunteers. Some come from the host city and some travel across state lines to lend a hand.
by Jeremy Hunt
We had the opportunity to talk to Charleston street team volunteer Stephanie Ellison about her involvement with both the Lowcountry and Knoxville Festivals.
Q: What have you been doing to get people excited about the Charleston Festival?
A: We started going out on Wednesday and just kind of hit the malls. We started at one mall and did really well passing things out. We’d go around and give them invitations and along with the invitations we’d give them a tract. So that way, if you can’t talk to somebody, they’ve got a tract to look at that could reach them. We went through half the mall and then a security guard stopped us and told us that we weren’t allowed to be doing that. So we had to quit. That was the Citadel Mall that we went to. Then we went over to some little outlets…
Q: Did you give the security guard a tract?!
A: (Laughing) No, they sent us over to the office and we asked if we could have permission and they said no right off. So we had to leave. Then we went to little shopping centers and that went really well. We would go into the store and we would give out flyers and tracts there and they were real receptive. Now you had some that didn’t want it; most people were very receptive. Some had heard about it and some hadn’t. So they were real excited about it. We explained who Franklin was and about what the Festival was about.
And then we explained that we had been involved in the Knoxville Festival and what that meant. That’ll help you there if you’ve been involved in one you can kind of explain. Where we really did good was in front of Wal-Mart. We would stand in front of the doors, with people coming in and out and we reached a lot of people coming through there. We’d give them a tract and a program.
Then yesterday, we went to Waterfront Park and you can go through there where the locals sit. There were a lot of college students that you could go and talk to. We just tried to pass out flyers when people would come out of the stores and then sometimes we went in to the stores there. There was one homeless guy that was sitting on a bench and I felt like I could just go over there and sit down and talk with him. So I talked with him and went over the tract with him. He had already accepted Jesus, but we asked if we could pray with him and so that was a good fellowship right there and we prayed with him.
It makes you nervous at first but once you get started, it goes really well I think. Most people are receptive. You have a few who aren't. I was excited about it. So it was really good to be out and doing that. We’ve really enjoyed meeting people and doing that, inviting people. It’s been really fun. Yesterday we gave out a hundred flyers.
Q: Now are you from Charleston?
A: No, I’m from Dandridge, which is about 30 miles from Knoxville.
Q: You came down here after being part of the Knoxville Festival?
A: I was a counselor and I worked as an usher. We volunteered a lot at the Festival itself. We would drive down there and work… we’ve done everything. They had us doing data entry, they had us doing mail-outs, counting money. We were just glad to have that opportunity. We were so blessed when they sent us a letter, I prayed about it and I said that’s where I want to go. My husband and I both got involved.
Q: Can you put into words why you got involved?
A: I volunteered because I want to reach the lost and also I volunteer because I love the ministry. I’ve always been a part of the ministry. I get Decision Magazine. I always wanted to go on a mission trip and be involved in this, reaching lost people.
What I like about the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) is their desire is to reach the lost people. When I was a kid, I watched him on TV. I thought, 'I want to be involved in this.' What really started this was about three years ago we had a Jefferson County crusade, just a little area. We had a little tent. A guy from BGEA came and trained us about different committees and how to set them up and do that. And so when we did that, we had a little meeting and then the first group, it was like 1200 that came.
That’s when I first got involved. I prayed about it and I said "I wish Franklin would come to Knoxville." He did and I said, I want that opportunity to get involved. So my husband and I got involved and we’ve been hooked.
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