The “Work” of the Evangelist
You may not know how much work it takes to do a Gospel Festival. Often it can take from eight to twenty-four months in advance to plan an event. The process begins with visiting a nation for the first time in order to meet with local believers. On this trip, we are looking to see if the local churches are hungry for a move of God. We look for someone who has a passion for evangelism who is willing to work with us to impact a nation. We look for a good location for holding a Gospel Festival. This location needs to be accessible to the local population, big enough to handle a large crowd, and available for us to rent. We meet with local officials in order to discover what permits are required to hold an event.
After we find the right people to work with, we put a date on the calendar for the Festival. Then we start to mobilize the local churches. We begin by inviting local pastors to be involved. Getting pastors to work together in unity is often like herding cats but is essential to the success of an outreach.
Once the pastors are committed, we start training local believers in evangelism. We do workshops on how to lead people to Jesus, how to invite friends to church, and how to counsel new believers.
A couple of months before the festival, billboards go up. We make the advertising friendly and exciting so that non-believers will be attracted to the event. We emphasize that the Gospel Festival is open to everyone and is free of charge to attend. Our goal is to not to have a meeting of believers; our goal is to lead the lost to Christ. Since we are fishers of men, we look for bait that is attractive to the people we are trying to reach. Music, miracles, and food for the hungry all serve as effective bait.
One month before our team arrives, we start running radio and television advertisements. Teams of young people from the local churches visit every neighborhood and put up posters, hand out flyers in the markets, and hang banners across the streets. Church members personally invite friends, co-workers, and family to the event.
A couple of days before the event begins, the sound system, platform, and lighting is set up and tested. When our team arrives we do interviews with local new stations and meet with government officials.
Finally, the week of the outreach arrives. Our goal is to impact every level of society. We do outreaches to schools, to business people, to children, to women, and to the youth. Over the course of a week of ministry, we minister face-to-face to thousands of people and many people pray with us for salvation. We put literature in the hands of every new believer and the churches begin follow-up on all the decision cards.
As you can imagine, all of this work requires a big investment of time and resources. The local churches provide the manpower and ministry partners like you provide the money to make it possible to impact an entire city with the Gospel. We usually take a picture of the huge crowd on the last day of the Festival to show you the result of all the hard work. Someone asked me, “Why do evangelists always show pictures of a big crowd?” I answered, “Each face in the crowd represents a person who has had an encounter with God. We work for months for that one moment when a single soul responds to Christ and the Gospel message.”