By Billy Byler, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014
A week of outreach at Wichita First Church of the Nazarene started with a challenge of evangelism from senior pastor Dr. Brent Van Hook and came to an exciting culmination last week with a miraculous work and more than 70 decisions for Christ.
The cooperation of many ministries within the church brought about the emphasis on outreach and evangelism in November. The church’s efforts to reach those in need has been led by Living Waters Ministries, which put together a turkey giveaway on Sunday evening, Nov. 16. Christian illusionist and evangelist Brock Gill provided entertainment and a message that evening, followed by an opportunity for those in need to receive various canned goods, boxed food and a turkey – everything necessary for a big Thanksgiving meal.
Susan Van Hook, director of Living Waters Ministries, said more than 600 people attended the Brock Gill show and 100 meals were distributed. As Brock Gill concluded his message with an opportunity to respond, at least 39 accepted Christ as their Lord.
Associate pastor Brad Riley assembled a team of prayer counselors for those who made a decision for Christ. The new Christians were immediately introduced to church members who could join with them on their new journey as Christ followers.
“Counselors listened to their stories, prayed with some and got their information for follow up,” pastor Brad Riley said.
The success of the annual outreach event provided momentum for the regular midweek ministries of the church. Living Waters Ministries opens its food pantry each Wednesday afternoon and provides a meal and worship service on Wednesday evenings with an average attendance of 75-80 people. Expecting this particular Wednesday evening meal to have a higher turnout than usual, the volunteers prepared enough food to feed 150 people.
As the doors opened and people began pouring in for the worship service and dinner it became clear: there wasn’t enough food. Susan Van Hook and Joyce Williams, a member of Wichita First Nazarene and area coordinator for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, joined hands, found a corner and began to pray.
“We had 278 people, but we only prepared food for 150,” Susan Van Hook said. “We gathered together and prayed, ‘God, multiply the food as needed.’”
Though the lines grew longer and people young and old continued to arrive, God’s resources were not overwhelmed.
“We never ran out,” Susan Van Hook said. “The doors opened, and it was like this peace and excitement came over us all at the same time. We never ran out.”
The miraculous multiplying of the food allowed all 278 people to eat a full Thanksgiving meal with additional food leftover. The fellowship hall that typically serves as a dining area overflowed and volunteers scrambled to set up additional dining space with chairs and tables. Eventually, the facility was filled to standing-room-only.
Joyce Williams introduced the large crowds to English and Spanish versions of Heaven, the new video from Billy Graham. By the end of the evening, all had watched the video in their own language and at least 34 people gave their hearts to the Lord.
“I just thought it was awesome,” Joyce Williams said. “I was just so deeply moved to see the people come and line up and wait just for a meal the way they did and for the volunteers to keep everything so orderly and organized. We had several miracles happening right there, but more than anything else to see the people make commitments to the Lord – that touched my heart so much.”
Wichita First Nazarene celebrated God’s victories the following Sunday as Kansas District Superintendent Jim Bond brought a message of thanks, encouragement and a challenge to continue to “man the mission.”
“The Church exists, and it’s not a building. It’s not a place,” he said. “It’s the people of God. We are the people of God.”
As the church enters the Advent season, Wichita First Nazarene is working toward equipping these new Christians. The morning worship service on Sunday, Nov. 30 will include multiple baptisms, discipleship classes are ongoing and the next round of church membership classes will begin after the new year.
“It seems like the tremendous responses to the gospel presentation happened very quickly and suddenly at our church, but I also know that a lot of prayer, support and preparation went into these dramatic results,” senior pastor Dr. Brent Van Hook said. “I’m so thankful for a congregation that worked so hard anticipating God’s great work to change lives. I believe that all churches can experience this type of renewal as we expect God to work through us to reach a lost and dying world.”
The ministries of Wichita First Church of the Nazarene are supported through the generous donations of our church family. For your convenience, online giving options are available through our secure website.