Coke vs. Pepsi has been a classic contest since 1893. Minutemen Ministries has capitalized on that famous rivalry with a competition of its own: the Cola Clash. It is an intense, three-night contest between two teams of teenagers. Who will win? Coke or Pepsi?
Jonathan Barber of Wisconsin and his wife, Rebecca, have led the Cola Clash team across America each summer for the past five years. They travel all over the country facilitating muddy tugs of war, spoke tackle, tube tug and four-foot basketball/volleyball. This past June, the evangelism team visited Troy Baptist Temple, and next weekend they are conducting the Cola Clash games at Grace Baptist Church in Kettering.
“It was great to be back in Troy, Ohio, for our fourth VBS/Cola Clash. Recruiting went well with 390 teenagers expressing interest in the event,” Barber said. “There were over 20 professions of faith as well as some young people who dealt with the matter of the assurance of their salvation.”
Grace Baptist assistant pastor Josiah Kagin said that the Minutemen team is a great help to the community.
“We’ve had the Cola Clash event two times before; the last one was in 2010. I would have them back every year, but the last few years we’ve had scheduling issues,” said Kagin, who’s been working with the church’s youth groups since 2008. “We provide intense competition, a great time, and refreshments. We believe that Jesus Christ is the way to have eternal life, so every night there is a Bible message at the end.”
The Cola Clash is usually augmented by church VBS events that begin two days before the competition, and last all five mornings that week. But Grace Baptist already held their vacation bible school.
“The Minutemen are trained, they’re motivated and they love teens,” said Kagin. “This is such a awesome program. It’s been an avenue for us to connect with area teens to help bring Christ, and hope, into their lives.”
The games that eventually became the Cola Clash were started by Jim Van Gelderen in 1979. It was pioneered at Marquette Manor Baptist Church in Downers Grove, Ill. He suggested to his older brother Wayne that they have a series of tent meetings that summer. These turned into a series of various team leaders and themes leading to the Cola wars today.
Once partnered with Bob Jones University, the Minutemen Evangelistic Team is now independent and financed by the Baptist College of Ministry. But the main focus has always been to show teens the power of the Gospel.
Other programs for teens that Minutemen Ministries facilitate are The War of Special Forces, The War and Real Character. Most of these are provided for teens in high schools across the nation. The Cola Clash program is the one that seems to be popular in the Dayton area.
At the end of the games, there is something more important going on than which sugary drink team earns the most points. The big question for these teens is this: Do I trust in myself or do I trust in Jesus Christ?
How to go
What: Cola-Clash, a three-night teen competition
Where: Grace Baptist Church, 2901 Galewood St., Kettering
When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 14-16
More info: (937) 293-7500 or www.colaclash.org