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Tent revival aims to ‘honor the person who made that eclipse happen”

This Hopkinsville church is among many with eclipse-themed services. (Terena Bell)

CERULEAN, Ky — Kentucky is horse country. It’s also God’s country, and Paul Daily will not let you leave without a Cowboy Bible. What’s a Cowboy Bible? Well, it’s a King James with an introduction by Daily, the founder of Wild Horse Ministries, detailing how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior.

As eclipse fans across the country throw watch parties, Daily is one of many who see the total solar eclipse as a time to tell others about God. “God turned my life around with a horse,” he said, then explains why: “As we work this colt, we relay how God loves us and wants to train us, just as we want to make a difference in this horse’s life.” In front of an audience, Daily breaks that horse in 2 hours or less.

Obedience to God is why he’s at SolQuest, a Christian tent revival held on 75 acres of fallowed land two miles from the point of greatest eclipse near Hopkinsville, Ky. Farmer David Ginn said God asked him to set the track aside to host the Christian tent revival, three days of evangelical preaching with variety acts like Daily’s: “The Lord laid on our hearts — and it wasn’t audible, I didn’t hear, He didn’t speak aloud to me — but the Spirit said, ‘Honor me with this and watch what I’ll do.’”

With the exception of Ken Freeman and Nathan Rittenhouse, a representative with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, the preachers during this event are local. But for the 100,000 out-of-town eclipse chasers Hopkinsville expects, SolQuest offers free camping and parking.

That’s why Roxanne Cox of Dixon County, Tenn., came. She didn’t know SolQuest was a Christian event until she already had her camping spot, but said the event’s religious tone didn’t make a difference. “We just wanted to be somewhere where happened,” she said. Her friend, Peggy Marshall agreed: “We’re all one people. There needs to be more love and peace in the world.”

While Ginn believes you must accept Christ to enter the gates of heaven, he understands not everyone coming to SolQuest believes the same. “It’s hard for me to imagine people coming from all over the world,” he said, referencing the tourists from 19 countries, 46 states, and three U.S. territories trickling into Hopkinsville over the weekend. “This is the spot they desire, where it’s the greatest alignment … There’s gonna be every kind of belief imaginable and unbelief people will have who come to this. And that’s the exact ones we want to come!”

At Hopkinsville’s eclipse-themed street fair, Casky Baptist Church has similar intent. The church is providing a free cellphone charging station. According to representative Jim Bailey, Casky Baptist goes on a mission trip once a year. “This year we’re here,” he said. “We’re not taking, we’re giving. We want to show Christian love, without asking for anything.” And if someone wants to learn more about Jesus while plugging in? Bailey said, “We let the conversation go wherever it goes.”

Farm owner Janie Corley said Christians at the point of greatest eclipse “have an amazing opportunity to be incredible hosts to the world.” Asked why the people of Hopkinsville have chosen to show this hospitality through faith, she cited Isaiah 40:26: “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these things?”

“That’s exactly what we’re doing,” Corley said. “While there’s gonna be the scientists all over Hopkinsville talking about how the sun and the moon align and all that — I know from what I’ve also read about being in an eclipse that people say there is just a spiritual sense. And for the nonbeliever, they don’t understand what that is but for the believer, we know what that is … It’s an opportunity to see the miracle of how God aligns things … For whatever the size of crowd is that might or might not be here, our job is to recognize and honor the person who made that eclipse happen.”

2017 Solar eclipse live updates: Weather, photos, traffic and more

The solar eclipse that will sweep across the United States Monday begins at 9 a.m. Pacific Time, noon Eastern, when the moon takes a bite out of the sun for viewers in Oregon. The eclipse will reach totality for coastal Oregon at 10:19 local time. Over the course of 90 minutes, the moon’s full shadow will zip across a 70-mile-wide, 3,000-mile-long path cutting through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina. Finally at 2:49 p.m. Eastern time, it will disappear off the coast of Charleston, S.C.

The partial eclipse will be visible throughout the continental United States.

We’ll be bringing you live updates from across the United States, with photos, video, drone footage, social media highlights, and reports from two dozen staff and freelance writers.