This spring and summer, the God Loves You Tour in the U.K. will take the timeless message of the Gospel to Great Britain through the preaching of Franklin Graham. Working alongside thousands of churches that are already planning and praying for an evangelistic harvest, the Tour will begin May 14 in Liverpool, move to South Wales on May 21, to Sheffield on May 25, and close out in London on July 16. In advance of the Tour, BGEA hosted four Evangelism Summits in the fall to encourage pastors and lay leaders in proclaiming the Good News among the United Kingdom’s 67 million people. What follows are some of the stories of the people who attended and their burden for the unsaved in the U.K.
Glasgow—Scotland’s most populous city—is home to more than 815,000 residents aged 24 or younger.
While more than 300 church leaders who attended BGEA’s inaugural Evangelism Summit Oct. 12 in Glasgow were encouraged to boldly proclaim the Name of Jesus, several attendees expressed the need to equip upcoming generations to do the same.
“The Gospel appears to be in complete opposition to what young people are being taught in schools,” said Hazel Fisher, a mother to two sons and a leader at Pathway Church in Wishaw, Scotland, 15 miles southeast of Glasgow city center.
She said her youngest son is often teased by classmates for his Christian beliefs. And the LGBTQ agenda has infiltrated most school curricula in Scotland.
But Fisher believes it’s the church’s responsibility to share the truth of God’s Word with younger generations.
“Churches have begun preaching the ‘social gospel,’” she said. “But we don’t just want to be another church that does good things; we’re the church of Jesus Christ. We need to have confidence and boldness to actually preach the Gospel in its purest form—as opposed to watering it down.”
Alistair Matheson, pastor of Glasgow City Church, told Decision that the No. 1 need for his church is the “equipping, empowering and training of next generation leaders.”
He referred to Luke 5, when Jesus called His first disciples—Jesus was surrounded by a crowd of people, but the disciples he was looking for (Peter, Andrew, James and John) weren’t there; they were out fishing on the Sea of Galilee.
“He had a full ‘church’ but no disciples,” said Matheson, “no one who was going to carry on the work after He was gone. So He had to press out of church to get out into the marketplace in order to find next generation leaders.”
For three men who made the 80-mile drive from Sheffield, England, to attend the Evangelism Summit Oct. 14 in Liverpool—the British port city famous for launching The Beatles—evangelism marks the drumbeat of their lives.
All of them placed their faith in Christ in their 40s. Years later, they are obeying God’s call to worship, pray and share Christ every Sunday in Weston Park, across from Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
About 40 years ago, the park was teeming with churchgoers every Pentecost Sunday as the area’s congregations united in praise and worship. In today’s COVID era, however, many of the churches have become increasingly isolated.
“We’ve led several people in the park to Christ,” said Martin Jacobs, 58, a former engineer who directs a prayer ministry throughout Europe. “We’ve given out probably 700 [Gospel] tracts and over 250 children’s books about Jesus.”
Alan Lamb, 55, a builder who plays his guitar and sings worship songs in the park every Sunday, said the group of about a dozen volunteers often prays with families for their children’s healing during their stay in the hospital.
“I thought that I would eventually become a pastor or a vicar,” Lamb said. “But when I sat down and prayed about it, the Lord said to me, ‘I don’t want you to do all that. You go out into the world. You can minister for Me in what you do.’”
Joe Oates, 81, said he’s passionate about evangelizing alcoholics, drug addicts and prostitutes in the park because God delivered him from a similar lifestyle decades ago.
“There are all these messes I’ve been in, and I know God’s lifted me out of that, and He can do it for you,” Oates said. “I want to be around to see if some of these people can be saved while we’re here. It’s not about me getting to Heaven. It’s about saving souls. That’s what it’s about.”
Famed for its beautifully rugged landscape, Celtic heritage, plentiful castles and rich history, the small nation of Wales is home to 3.1 million people. A big part of that history began in 1904, when a large and storied revival broke out across the nation. Over the course of less than a year, tens of thousands were converted to Christ.
With a desire to see souls saved today, some 420 church leaders gathered for the Oct. 19 Summit in the country’s capital of Cardiff to be encouraged in their calling and challenged to more effectively share the same Gospel that transformed Wales more than a century ago.
“Whenever you’re in Wales, people always talk about the past revival, but we want that kind of revival to happen again,” said Jordan Sydenham, a Bible student at Covenant College in Cardiff.
“Cardiff is a really vibrant city in terms of faith,” said Eve Bennett, Sydenham’s classmate. “A lot of young people are really passionate about seeing the Gospel come to this city, so it makes it easier [to share the Gospel] when you have people spurring you on.”
That idea of spurring each other on was evident at the Summit as people of all ages, races and denominations prayed together for God to unify them and reignite a passion in their hearts for evangelism.
“Probably now more than ever, with the season that we’ve been in, evangelism and getting the Gospel out is needed,” said Lucy Edwards, associate pastor at Citifaith International Church in nearby Swindon. “It’s always been needed, but people are searching harder and more now than ever, so it’s good to be equipped.”
“We’ve been praying as a church for a while that God would bring heavy-hitters into our nation that would break open whatever hardness there is,” said Naomi McLennan, a volunteer at the Summit. “This Summit brought that, and we’re going to continue praying that there would be an impartation of the mantle of an evangelist upon this land.”
In this bustling international hub and capital city of more than 9 million people, the hope of the Gospel has never been more needed as the peoples of the world continue to migrate to London. Historic church buildings may dot the city landscape—evidence of a rich Christian past—but an increasingly pluralistic population presents both challenges and opportunities for evangelism.
As more than 600 Christian leaders gathered Nov. 15 for the fourth and final BGEA Evangelism Summit in London, a sense of expectation permeated the event on the same day that the 2022 four-city Tour was announced.
David Bonny, a chaplain at London’s Heathrow Airport and an elder at St. Andrew’s Baptist Church in nearby Shepperton, is part of a monthly online meeting of Christians praying for revival.
“In the U.K. there is a real hunger spiritually,” said Bonny, who came to the Summit with his pastor, Tom Hoyles. “I think people have been badly affected by the pandemic. Everything is doom and gloom. But I am aware that there is also real resistance to the Gospel among some people.”
But, said Bonny, “Around the U.K. there are a lot of small groups of people who are praying for revival. We need revival. Whether it comes through a big evangelist or whether it comes through smaller efforts of ordinary people, I don’t know. But there is a hunger.”
Hoyles said that over the last 10 years, he has observed a greater “spirituality” among the people he meets, but that presents challenges just as secularism does.
“As long as people can define their own spirituality to meet their own needs and within their own framework, then they believe they’re OK,” Hoyles explained. “It’s just when someone comes with the Gospel that challenges their framework and reference and challenges their ideas of spirituality that it is not always well received. When you bring up the word repentance and the idea that you can’t do it on your own, you need the Lord Jesus, that is the biggest challenge to the Gospel not only being proclaimed but also being understood and accepted.
“The ground is harder, but when genuine conversions do happen, the fruit is that much greater.”
Reporting by Becca Coon, Lee Weeks, Giovanna Albanese and Jerry Pierce
Photo: ©2021 BGEA