MOD stands for Missions Outreach Day. But that only tells you what it started as in 1987, it doesn’t tell you what it is. On MOD Nite we take the side of a hill or as much space as we can get and convert it to a foreign country with border guards and immigration officers and the lot. Then we take 100-400 Junior High kids and get them to try and smuggle Bibles into this foreign country (called Persevokia) to a group of “persecuted Christians” who live there. MOD Nite was started in 1987, the last time we did it in the San Jose Area was 1990. When Pastor David Underwood moved to Portland in the mid 90’s we started doing it there. Other Mod Nights have taken place in Colorado with Mike Worley (the originator of the Event). If you want to do one at your church, contact us.
Everybody gets to dress up in Military gear, face paint, drive old army vehicles (anybody got a tank?), there are lots of shouting guards, guard dogs with border patrol guards, immigration officers, passports, spotlights, motorcycle patrols, secret agents, secret passwords, secret maps to the secret meetings, lots of dry ice, helicopter sounds, cannons and exploding bomb noises, interrogation rooms, prisoner of war camps etc. Fake, but realistic looking guns of all sorts in the hands of the guards (usually no real guns are allowed). No kids are allowed to carry any sort of gun.
Sound interesting? Read on.
Here are the details (all of which actually happened in years past). It all starts at night. We pray for a moonless or cloudy night. We break the kids up into teams of around 10. Depending on the size of the crowd we have about 10-15 teams (one year we had over 400 kids). Each team has 2 shepherds (this is the “funnest” job because you get to see the whole show). Each kid gets a passport. After they are dropped off at the church, they pass through immigration, get their passports stamped, informed that as a tourist into Persevokia they will have full freedom FROM all their rights. (That’s from, not of).
Then they are loaded with their team onto the buses. The buses take them to the foreign country where they disembark, although buses have been known to have been “bus jacked” by terrorists on the way. And sometimes these terrorists take out the bus driver and and then drive the bus to a “different” location. The kids then have to sneak off the hijacked bus (with their shepherd) and end up smack dab in the middle of nowhere in the very very unfriendly land of Persevokia where Christians are hated.
Once in the middle of nowhere, they head towards some lights they see, it turns out to be a ramp over a deep fogged in valley with tall trees. The ramp is very shaky and they have to crawl over it on their hands and knees. Unfortunately, as they are halfway across (too far to come back), the place explodes as search lights came on, shouting guards and a huge helicopter flies overhead (OK just the sound of a helicopter on huge concert sized speakers hung in the trees).
Fortunately the team manages to escape all the guards without getting caught. They then gather together to decide the next step. The shepherds happen to have an old Persevokian map that tells them that their first clue would be given to them by a prisoner in a prison camp. They have to sneak in to get the clue from him. But they still have to find the prison camp.
As the team heads in the direction of the prison camp, they are suddenly surrounded by guards and dogs. The guards search the kids to see if they have any Bibles, (any smart alec kids are made to do push ups). The guards say: “I hope none of you are Christians, because we have a way of dealing with Christians.” (The Guards are not allowed to ask a question that would cause the kids to have to lie). Then they are taken to a place where they can view what happens to people who are Christians.
The place they are taken to is a place between the trees. As they get close, they see by the light of the lantern that people are digging a grave. A coffin lies nearby ready to be used. But it is empty. As the kids get closer the guards start questioning one of the kids on the team. Suddenly one of the guards say. “This one is a Christian…” and they drag that kid to the coffin and throw her in. She starts yelling. “Run… save yourselves”. The kids all take off and gather in a safe place in the dark hiding among the forest and they see the guards hammering the nails in the coffin and lowering it in the grave (while the kid is screaming).
The shepherd takes the kids and they run further off. (Yes, meanwhile the “kid” who is really a small 9th grader, gets out of the coffin and heads back to catch the next bus back to the immigration to sneak in and join the next group of kids, usually we have about 3-4 of these fake kids).
Anyway you get the idea of the night. Some of the other things that happen:
The prison work camp clue. The kids have to avoid the patrolling guards, as one kid sneaks in (he has to time his move), pretend to be on the work crew and find the prisoner with the clue. He then sneaks back out again with the clue.
The clue leads them to the meeting house. They all go in to a little hut where the local Persevokians are very pleased to see them and they start to have a Bible Study …when suddenly they hear the roar of jeeps and motorcycles and megaphones outside, and they see spot lights. The kids are rushed through a trap door under the floor, just as the guards burst in. There they hear the guards threaten to shoot the son of the old Pastor if he doesn’t tell them where the rest of the “Accursed Christians” are. The son says he is willing to die to save the others. (Note the tie in for the evangelistic sermon at the end). The guards start to shoot the son as the kids escape out the back (one year we had them shoot the son and we poured thick chocolate syrup through the floorboards onto the hidden kids below – in the dark, chocolate syrup and blood look identical… we later determined that that traumatized some of the kids a bit too much so we killed the chocolate syrup part…. ah well live and learn).
The kids are rushed through a number of other scenarios some are with evangelistic intent others just for the fun of it but all are made to be fun and exciting and designed to get their adrenaline surging e.g. The floating clue, one of the kids have to take of their shoes and wade in about 3 ft of water to get a clue floating on a little boat. (Usually a girl is chosen), but as she has just gotten her clue, all of a sudden the water erupts as one or two frogmen in scuba gear explode out of the water giving everyone a heart attack and her just enough time to escape.
The swamp passage. We create an long enclosure and a 6 inch ditch, we fill the ditch with water and the enclosure with fog. Down the center we put a plank on cinder blocks. The kids are sent in through one side to get across, hay bales etc. make it look like the ditch is very deep (usually we stick it next to a naturally valley or stream). So as far as the kids think, they have to stay on the plank to make it across. They can’t see anything and are basically feeling their way with flashlights and touch. If they put their feet down, they feel the water (6in is deep enough to not touch the bottom since most people don’t want to get their shoes wet). As soon as the whole team is inside, the walls come to life and the people hidden in the fog create an uproar as the kids try to get out without getting caught.
The torture chamber: Tortured Christians suffering for their Faith. We take lessons from the news of Persecuted Christians who have had to withstand much and didn’t falter. Shades of the Roman persecution. Soviet or Muslim Persecution of the saints or maybe the Persecution that is to come.
There are usually about 8-10 “stations”, with border guards (and dogs if available) in between (usually sent by central command HQ to regulate the teams). Since we can’t have teams running into each other or “seeing” what’s going on at the station ahead, these guards are sent to slow down fast teams, or speed up slow teams.
Towards the end, despite all their efforts, the kids are all captured by guards and taken to sentencing. At first their shepherd tries to save them, but “dies” trying to do so (another example of sacrificing). The kids are captured anyway and they are taken to the the interrogation room. A Christian is being interrogated. The kids are exposed to it as an example of what they are about to go through. During the interrogation, the Christian gets a chance to respond to the questions of the guard, the kids are encouraged to respond if they know the answers (e.g. What’s so great that you’d believe in a dead man? Is this Jesus a God? He’s dead… so why do you believe in Him? Why do you believe you will go to heaven? Jesus never existed, he’s just a fairy tale… etc.) We use it as an opportunity to pre witness to the non Christian kids and a chance for the Christian kids to try to defend their faith.
Finally they are individually taken to the sentencing unit (note they were separated from their shepherd earlier). At the sentencing they are told that their punishment is death and their passports are stamped GUILTY, then they are individually led down this long dark foggy corridor.
They come out of the other end to meet their “dead” shepherd and excited team mates and are taken to the Real Meeting. Where the band is playing and we end with a very very evangelistic talk with a Altar Call. The kids usually don’t stop talking about this night for about 2 months. They all have such a great blast and what’s even neater is that those who aren’t saved that night, realize that Church is not this dull boring place and that even Christians can have good fun, no drugs or alcohol. Usually the Junior High group grows right away.
Note: The kids are separated into age groups, so that the intensity of the experience is tailored to their maturity. The 6th graders get it light. The 7th graders get the full experience, the 8th graders are just there to goof off, so every one takes it as a big joke and has fun. Guards have to make sure that they never let a kid cry etc., though alarming and startling them is quite fine.
Some years we’ve seen as many as 10% of the kids be called as new believers (that’s not counting re-dedications).
That’s MOD NITE.
It’s a very effective evangelistic tool and takes kids away from the usual Halloween fare and shows them what the real world of a Christian in a foreign country is like. (If you don’t know what is happening to Christians around the world, please open your eyes and see http://www.family.org/docstudy/newsletters/a0000068.html and http://www.persecution.org/humrites.html for information on persecuted Christians around the world. It will shock you).
Note: some folks think this is a terrible idea and hate the thought that kids could come to church and actually have such a blast (because it’s so militaristic). If you feel that way, please pretend you never read this and don’t send your kids to MOD Nite, (but first do a search for the crucifixion and torture of Christians in the Middle East …..).
Do you want to host one? Let us know.
I’ve been involved in Mod Night since around 1987 or so, (the year after it was originally started by Mike Worley), and I’ve enjoyed each one tremendously (the last one in the Bay Area was in 1990 with LGCC and David Underwood. By then it had grown too large for the LGCC Church Parking lot so we moved it to the Santa Cruz Mountains (Mission Springs), imagine coordinating >400 kids and 120 volunteers, it was a blast. When David Underwood moved to Portland in the mid 90’s, he brought me up there to continue the tradition. To make sure it happened right we’d fly volunteers up from San Jose to be part of the Crew for Greater Portland Bible Church’s Mod Nite event. It grew again in just 3-4 years from 40 kids in the back parking lot to 400+ kids, 2 nights long and many many awesome volunteers.
If you are a Christ Follower and may want to do this let me know.