It had been a wild ride. God had taken us from doing outreaches to actually living in an outreach target area. Instead of driving to a needy place to conduct an evangelistic meeting, we now threw open the front door of our home to invite the harvest into our very own living room. We, and our friends who had also moved into this dicey Annapolis neighborhood for the purpose of reaching it, lived in 24-7 harvest.
From time to time, the Holy Spirit would take what He was doing in the seclusion of our homes and export it to the streets, in full view. Here are a few snapshots of how that looked.
it is Sunday night in our neighborhood. There are forty of us, adults and kids, playing football on the common area field. We have handed out a hundred hot dogs to neighbors and in so doing, have met many new individuals and families. Some of our young team members are leading a line dancing session in the streets for about a dozen neighborhood girls. Jesus is opening doors to hearts tonight.
It is Halloween and we have transformed one of our houses into “hell” for the night, complete with booming sound effects, eerie lighting, and live costumed demons. Exiting hell, participants will be led through a final room where they are witnessed to and given a handout explaining the way of salvation. Not knowing what kind of turnout to expect, we are shocked to see a long line of neighbors queued up at opening time. Most everyone is patient and waits an average of twenty minutes each while we lead one or two at a time through hell. 150 of our neighbors are exposed to the gospel this night with several accepting Jesus on the spot! Puggy (see Puggy the Devil) and his friends are on hand to help. They could be running the streets tonight causing mayhem but they have chosen to be with us reaching their peers.
We are conducting a Tuesday night Bible study for a halfway house for recovering addicts and alcoholics located in our neighborhood. Everyone takes a turn at answering the questions “Who is Jesus to you?” and “If you died tonight would you go to heaven and why?”. Tommy, a new attendee, answers “I don’t know”. After our discussion regarding the fact that one can know that they have eternal life, one of the new believers in the group, Steve, indicates that he wants to ask a question. We’re all thinking that he wants to ask something that relates to the discussion that we just completed. Instead, Steve looks over toward Tommy and blurts out “Tommy, Jesus wants to know if you want to get saved tonight”. Our mouths are gaping wide at Steve’s non-tactful approach. Then, shockingly, Tommy quietly answers, “Yes, I would”. Moments later a new lamb is added to Jesus’ fold through the boldness (and innocent tactlessness) of a new believer.
ANNAPOLIS IN OHIO
Members of our Annapolis group, Jeff and Maureen Struss, are in Columbus, OH visiting a burned-out pastor friend. The pastor is listening to the testimonies of the awesome things that God is doing in our neighborhood in Annapolis. The pastor’s wayward kids are listening as well. Following this, the Struss’s spend time praying over and encouraging the whole family. Some time after returning home, the Struss’s receive a phone call. The pastor shares that their visit has changed their lives. Even his prodigal kids have broken up with their unsaved boyfriends and are now in church, hungry for God!
130 kids, teens, and parents fill a hillside section of our common area field on Easter afternoon. Our team’s young people are leading worship and the Holy Spirit’s presence is hanging thick in the spring air. After a puppet show, passion play, and illustrated gospel message, it is time for the invitation for salvation. As the invitation is given, the whole hillside seems to move as virtually everyone comes forward to give their lives to Christ. We have extra reinforcements from church to help out with the event, but we are still mobbed. Some counsellors have half a dozen individuals each to share with and lead to the Lord. 96 kids, teens, and adults responded to the invitation to be born again.
We are humbled and awed to be witnesses of what the Holy Spirit did in our Annapolis neighborhood. Next, we will share how the scene changed but the story didn’t as Jesus continued to reach out to those He died to save.