The First Assembly of God in Kissimmee, Florida had a problem. Many of the church's youth had been having behavioral problems at home and at school. Children were rebelling against their parents, and many were getting suspended for fights and the use of foul language. The parents were becoming discouraged and turned to the church's pastor, Adrian Jackson, for help.
"In all my years of ministry I've never seen such a bad youth group." Said Jackson. "A church always has its problem kids that come and go, but over the past two years we've just seen a consistent string of problems from our kids in this church. Out of some 30 kids in our church's youth program about 25 of them just stay in trouble either at home or at school."
To resolve the problem Jackson came up with an idea that he felt certain would work.
"These kids needed a 'reality check.'" He said. "They needed to have the Devil literally scared out of them."
The solution; hold a 'mock rapture' and make the kids think they've all been 'left behind.'
"The plan was great." Said Karen Henderson, who had a daughter in the youth group. "While the youth were in Sunday School almost every member of the congregation arranged a set of empty clothes in the church's worship center to make it look like we'd been raptured. A couple of us agreed to play the part of those 'left behind.' I got to do that, which was great."
"My part was to excuse myself from Sunday School a few minutes early and meet the rest of the congregation down at Starbucks around the corner." Said youth Sunday School teacher, Brian Parks. "I made up some excuse about having to 'take care of a few things' before worship."
After Brian left the classroom the kids waited in the room for about 10 minutes until they heard screaming in the distance. Running into the church's worship center they found aisle after aisle of empty clothes with Henderson and a few others running hysterically around the room screaming "They're gone! They're gone! We're left behind!"
"I just burst into tears." Said 13-year-old Susan Raymond. "We all did. It was, like, the scariest thing I have ever been in. We thought all of us had been left behind."
Thinking that they had all been 'left behind,' all of the kids got down on their knees and began praying. About fifteen minutes later the congregation returned from Starbucks to see the sobbing, terrified faces of their youth group.
"I flung open the back doors of the worship center and yelled out 'Surprise!'" Said Jackson. "We all started coming back in, and, I tell you, those kids looked shocked."
The results of the mock rapture have been varied. While about three of the church's youth have become more devout, several have had to begin going to therapy citing intense nightmares and panic attacks. A number of the kids have even gotten worse in their behavior.
"Overall, I had hoped for better results." Said Jackson. "Perhaps next time we'll try something a little stronger, like a mock Day of Judgment, or something where one of us will dress up like Jesus and cast people into the Lake of Fire."