Interview with Pastor Tim O Brien from Jesus Camp
I’ve known Pastor Tim O Brien for several years now, including before his family, and in particular his son Levi O Brien became immortalized in the hit documentary Jesus Camp. I’ve preached at Pastor Tim’s church more than once and we’ve had a few friendly debates on this blog. Our similarities and our differences has produced a bit of an iron sharpens iron relationship over the years. So I thought it might be nice for my readers to get a sense of Pastor Tim’s passion for ministry in his own words,unfiltered by the secular media. Here are Pastor Tim’s responses to my inquiries.
Question: Tell me about how you and your family got involved in Jesus Camp.
Answer: Our church youth were at a Kids in Ministry conference (a ministry led by Becky Fischer which teaches children the supernatural works of Jesus). The film crew that produced Jesus Camp was there, although we didn’t know who they were. One of the co-producers experienced a dramatic healing from chronic back pain when my son Levi prayed for her. After that, they were drawn to our ministry and our church kids as subjects of their film.
Question: What has been the effect of Jesus Camp on your family and on your ministry?
Answer: Although the film was not edited in our favor, many people saw through the bias and were impacted by the passion of the children. We have tons of stories of lives, churches, and youth groups radically touched by the film. That opened many doors for us. As a result we have been able to spread the message (that youth can minister at a very young age) both nationally and internationally. The open doors we walked through after Jesus Camp have resulted in a steady opportunity for ministry to the Church concerning youth. Ministry Today magazine ran an article highlighting five youth ministries across the country. Ours was one of them.
Question: What has Levi been up to these days? Is he still planning for future ministry?
Answer: Levi is so passionate for Jesus, he is often ready to burst. He preaches in various settings with the emotion of Tommy Tenney and the rallying cry of William Wallace. His brother Luke shares the same fervor. Their daily prayer times are filled with “loud cries” and energy for Jesus. Despite what the press said, Levi has no desire to be a pastor, but he and his brother preach meatier messages than most pastors I know. Since age 8 Levi has had a longing to minister in India and has made one trip already.
Question: You have been a vocal advocate of training young children to flow in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Tell me the affect this has had on your church and on the children in your church.
Answer: Literally I can ask my youth conduct a service top to bottom (music, preaching, altar call, etc.) with a greater anointing than 80% of the charismatic services you will ever see in America. I never even touch the mic. This has come from years of training them and expecting from them. There is no indication biblically that Jesus did not expect children to preach, heal, raise the dead, get visions and words of knowledge, and pray and fast. Over the years, we lost a few families who could not get away from the prevalent entertainment-driven mentality of children’s ministry. The families who have stuck it out, however, have reaped huge blessings.
Question: What has been the focus of your ministry lately?
Tim: Since 1996 the focus of our ministry has been to gain and protect the Presence of the Lord. Everything we do revolves around God’s Presence. Our goal is to have a congregation that is 100% responsive to Jesus, young and old alike. Our ministry has been greatly impacted by World Revival Church (www.worldrevivalchurch.com), which grew out of the Smithton Outpouring. Recently, we have been involved in the opening of a Prayer Center in our community where prayer, worship and ministry goes on for a good portion of the week.
Question: What do you consider to be your life message?
Answer: Our message is that the Church in America and most of the world is mis-focused on initial salvation and Heaven. The Bible is focused on discipleship and the display of God’s glory on earth! We believe that the greatest event in human history is yet to occur. It is the culmination of the ages when what Jesus did for through the cross and resurrection will be fully manifest in a world-wide revival ushered in by a powerful praying Church that carries the stature of Jesus.