Thursday, November 03, 2011

Salem Outreach 2011

This was a fast paced month with every weekend busy with outreach, visitors from distant places who joined us for ministry, and some wonderful results in the busyness of it all.

The month started off with Mark and Anthea Searle joining us from Cheltenham, UK. They walked with some of the people of our church through "More Light" ministry sessions, and taught a short workshop on the basics of the ministry.

Dennis Huxley was here on that second weekend as well, and would return every weekend - even staying for a full eleven straight days at one point. In the end Dennis was with us in Salem for more days than he was home in Rome, NY.

John Harding joined us from the Bridge Church in Ipswich and led a couple local teams through Dream Interpretation and prophetic outreaches at The Gathering.

Andy Gamble joined us from Pennsylvania on four different weekends, and brought people with him - lots of people with him - and different people each week.

Brandon and Grace Crummer helped lead teams in Dream Interpretation, prophetic ministry, and healing prayers. Matt Keating joined us from Ohio and brought a team with him on the fourth weekend. We were also joined by Jamie Dickson from Crave Ministries, a YWAM missions team, and a variety of people who flew in specifically to join us: April Alario, Alan Drake, Christopher Gaston, Allen Henninger, Peter Parkas, Debora Spotted Eagle, the Matthews family from British Columbia and Enrique who is from Honduras even joined us during his travels across the US.

Here are a few highlights, and strange events from the month:

Enrique tells the story of his interaction with a man with a severe case of arthritis who was prayed for by one of the prophetic ministry teams. He started off with constant pain which he described as "10" in severity, and in a few short minutes of prayer was experiencing painless freedom.

A man from Philadelphia sat in to receive ministry from one of our teams, and told them that he returns every year to Salem specifically for this experience. His wife was not quite as zealous as he was about the experience and wondered at her husband's zeal.

A number of people made solid steps toward walking with Jesus. They made confessions of faith for the first time, and asked for more information on how to get involved with the kind of outreach we are doing. Deliverance prayers were offered at length for people struggling with depression, or temptation to fall into old habits or lifestyles, and by the end of the month a whole crew of friends was part of our little circle at The Gathering.

To make such festival evangelism work properly it requires hard work, creativity and sensitivity.

I can not thank the members of our small church enough: Joyce, Jeff and Diane, Rennie and myself put people up in our homes throughout the month. Carlos organized the crazy schedule of visiting friends. Paul and Carrie handled organizing the massive task of serving free hot cocoa next to our outdoor stage. Jane was there just about every day, making food and filling in wherever she was needed. David helped run the sound on the stage, and performed a couple gigs as well. Jodi helped arrange a concert with the worship band Aradhna, and it was a smashing success. These are just a few examples of the hard work necessary to put on such a large number of events in the month of October.

The creativity this year seemed to be flow beautifully and naturally. Christopher Gaston brought dozens of his pictures to give away to people who came to us, and personally signed them. The music from our outdoor stage was exciting and the number of local bands who show unbelievable talent was striking. Ian Bennet worked hard on video taping responses from some of the people who came to minister alongside us, and soon we will putting together a video of some of our work here in Salem. April joined the festivities by dressing the part, and came in costume as "the fire of God." These are only a few of the creative expressions found this month at The Gathering.

Of course, there is always a necessity for sensitivity. In a small tourist city with over a dozen Witchcraft shops, and a tourist season dedicated to Halloween, one must be sensitive to many things. The Gospel is in its own right offensive enough at times, but there is no reason for us to add to the offensiveness by either rudeness, or a lack of understanding the cultural dynamics we are facing. During the last week we were faced with blaring bull horns and preachers standing outside the church shouting to the crowds about their sins, and telling that they were going to Hell. As every other year, we try to help them see that there might be a better way to reach people, and often we do so in vain, but occasionally some of them understand our concern. This year was as crazy as usual on the final few days of October, and some of our new friends who had just decided to follow the Jesus Way were themselves quite offended by the antics of the noisy street preachers.

Such are the challenges and the joys of ministering at the Haunted Happenings festival in Salem, Massachusetts in October. Please keep us in prayer as we seek to help those who are now recently following Christ to grow in their new faith.

Too many stories to tell. More coming soon, and videos as well.