It was a stinking hot day at a leadership conference in Vijayawada, India.
We were standing in a long line of pastors waiting to be served a bowl of curry and rice. A middle-aged man walked up and said to me:
“They came to kill you last night!” His closely following companion chimed in, “Oh yes, but they put their rocks down because it was a very nice message that touched their hearts.”
It turns out that a group of hostile young Hindus had joined together with some equally upset Muslims with a plan to kill me in the slum area during the event. The problem was that they had showed up at a peace event, and God rearranged their lives within a forty-minute message.
I remember seeing their angry defiant eyes slowly melt away as tears began to flow down their softened faces.
For me, this is a common scene in my travels.
Thousands of people have committed their lives to Christ in India on each trip.
I’ve been doing my peace events for quite a few years in India, Africa, USA, and Australia.
In some ways the events could be likened to a crusade, but there are some distinct differences. Usually they are quite a bit smaller than full blown crusades (200-2,500 people). Often, they can be held in a church hall, a workshop, a theatre, or in an open field. A church in West Hollywood, California, incorporated craft into the event but they were a bit of an anomaly.
If possible, several churches combine together to provide a venue, great music, and a meal.
The message is the heart of the event. This is not just an approach we use overseas, Australians readily respond too.
My son, Syd has joined me in three peace events and a three-day leadership conference with several hundred pastors. He was blown away with what took place. His main experience has been with extensive youth and children’s ministries in the USA.
Concerned Australians often ask, “What about the follow up?” Our ministry is not pioneering unreached people groups, we are working in areas that have a variety of churches.
We are invited by the churches.
Each local church has its unique program and activities. Peace events stimulate the evangelistic efforts of those churches. We talk to the leadership about the need to apprentice newly declared disciples. It’s not always as neat as we would desire.
On my last trip to Uganda, I spoke with a pastor from one of the churches. He was attending the pastor’s conference attached to the peace event. He had heard separate testimonies from several people within his church choir.
Each of them told a similar story of listening to a ‘mzungu’ preacher in the slums several years before. They shared how they were uninterested in God or the church, but heard the music in the streets and that made them stop and listen to the message.
They were convinced by the truth of what was said and they committed themselves to Jesus and then went looking for a church. Subsequently, they settled in a church and joined the choir. Their commonality came to light through sharing testimonies. As soon as they heard I was coming back into town they arranged for the pastor to come along to the conference. He was astounded by the similarity of their spiritual birth testimonies. He couldn’t wait to tell me his extraordinary tale.
No person can produce results like this, it is the divine activity of God.
The churches in the area are very keen for me to return in March 2020.
For many years I have also been church planting at Riverwalk on the Sunshine Coast and pastoring Moore Park Baptist Church in Brisbane, but my time has come to ramp up my evangelistic efforts with our newly formed development called Passionfruit Ministries. Our passion being Christ and his fruit that follows. Syd is keen on pastoring or planting a church in Queensland.
In 2020/21 we are opening up as many opportunities as possible for Australian churches to host their own peace events. Ideally, Queensland will lead the way.
While we have some international commitments, our desire is that we are much more fruitful in our local efforts.
I’m happy to discuss the possibilities with you or with your leadership team. Is your church interested in hosting an evangelistic event? Let’s make it happen.
Both Syd and I are available for itinerant speaking engagements. We require committed partners to pray and financially support Passionfruit Ministries.
If you are interested in a grass roots Australian evangelistic initiative streamlined to go into all the world, join us. Our desire is to work with you.