Each year the Kiwanis Coweta County Fair attracts thousands to Newnan, Georgia. Families go to enjoy the midway with its carnival rides, inflatables, food and games; exhibit halls showing local artwork, handicrafts, baked goods, horticulture and livestock; and other attractions.
Since the fair attracts so many — 45,000 in 2022 — for nearly 15 years the Western Baptist Association has organized 10 churches to host their tent for one day. Each church is equipped to share the good news of Christ and provide a cheerful and uplifting presence amid a loud and boisterous carnival atmosphere.
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“So often people see the church as an institution that intrudes into their lives with a message of gloom and doom and persistent appeals for money,” noted Wayne Jenkins, Western Baptist associational missionary. “At our tent we are trying to make a positive, nonthreatening impression by demonstrating the love of Jesus.
“We have a very large glass jar crammed full of teddy bears. When the children see the bears, they bring their parents to our tent and we ask the kids to guess how many bears are in the glass jar. No matter how many bears they guess, we tell them we appreciate their participation, share with them a brief synopsis of the depth of God’s love, and give them a free teddy bear.”
Jenkins said the small bear “can easily fit into their dad’s pocket, which almost ensures that the gift will be taken home as a reminder of the message we share with each visitor. This year we gave away 1,000 teddy bears.”
But the main feature of the tent is a golden box with an inscription: “The most valuable thing at the fair is in this box.”
“Almost everyone wants to know what the most valuable thing at the fair could possibly be,” Jenkins said. “They all expressed a desire to look into the box.”
When it is opened a golden silk cloth can be seen first. But there is a mirror at the bottom of the box and the curious observer sees an image of himself/herself.
“Since the mirror reflects the image of the person who peers into the box, we proceed to ask that person, ‘Do you know why you are the most valuable thing here at the fair and the most valuable person in this whole world?’” said Steve Bullard, senior pastor of Royal Baptist Church Newnan. “In economics, value is measured by the price one is willing to pay for goods or services. God considers the price of one soul to be of inestimable worth and gave up His only begotten Son to die an excruciating death for you and each one of us to have eternal life.”
On more than one occasion the individual who looked in the box heard the gospel message and made a profession of faith in Christ.