Ball State to "Acquire the Fire" this Weekend
MUNCIE — Acquire the Fire youth ministry is back in Muncie this weekend, gathering thousands of young people in Worthen Arena for what its website bills as “a highly charged spiritual event.”
The two-day rally has become a repeat visitor to Muncie, using Ball State University as one of its many venues nationwide for years now.
Ball State, in turn, is happy to welcome Acquire the Fire each year, according to Dan Byrnes, director of sports facilities.
Worthen is primarily a sports venue, so it doesn’t bring in a lot of non-sports events such as this one, but Brynes called Acquire the Fire “a very positive event, full of energy, and we love it have it. We’re glad they keep coming back.”
Who are these wonderful people? A few minutes on google, which is apparently more time than the author of this post was willing to spend, and I saw that it is a cultish Christian organization that has been profiled on MSNBC. Acquire the Fire is a high energy rock concert that is a "ministry" though it seems totally for-profit to me. It is the hook to reel in kids for their Teen Mania internships. The internships cost $8,000 for a year of abuse and working as slave labor in a call center. Teen Mania has (belatedly) dropped their ESOAL hell week ritual, which drew complaints for years, and was broadcast to the world on the MSNBC documentary and a local television news show (linked below).
ESOAL was modeled on Navy Seals training, but with one big drawback: no medical or psychological screening for the program. Some kids graduated from their "internship" and claim it did wonders for them. Others were traumatized and now need therapy for PTSD.
I am trying to decide whether to buy a ticket and video part of this or to paper all the cars with flyers about the cult they just supported with their allowance money.
These arena type things are harmless generally, with the rock concert experience culminating in an altar call, but this one in particular gives me the creeps. Former Teen Mania victims are ambivalent about the event. It's a happy time rah rah for Jesus weekend, but also the introduction to the abuse they suffered.
Inside Teen Mania from MSNBC (2011)
A local television station story on the abusive ESOAL program (2010)
Belated cancellation of ESOAL
They are justifiably embarrassed but it took years of criticism for them to drop it.
Recovering Alumni blog
Recovering Alumni youtube channel