After a long night of concerts and parties, crowds trickled through the streets in the early morning hours. Along the main path back to hotels and homes stood volunteers armed with thermoses, serving hot drinks. The coffee and conversations have become part of the annual Ghent Festivities landscape, so much so, that these volunteers and missionaries are known as “the Jesus People.”
International Mission Board missionaries Don and Pam Lynch can be found working with their coffee cart any time the weather allows people in Ghent, Belgium, to be outside. It’s a way to meet their neighbors and have gospel conversations. During the annual 10-day music festival, however, the coffee and hot chocolate open access to a broad gospel seed-sowing approach as about 2 million visitors trickle through their city. Many visitors to their station are return customers from the year before.
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“A lot of the people that stop by the cart are ones we’ve seen year after year,” Pam said. “They even pick up the conversations we had last year about Jesus, right where we left off.”
During the 10-day period, the Lynches, local believers and two short-term mission teams from Hill Station Baptist Church in Goshen, Ohio, and Kirby Woods Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, engaged in 621 conversations about God. They were able to share the full gospel with 182 people.
“This is not normal,” Pam said, explaining the culture in their city is for people NOT to talk to strangers or even neighbors. It can take years to develop relationships. “When we can get someone interested [in the gospel] and they give us their phone number because they want to know more — well, we consider that a victory because they are one step closer to the Lord.”
We first told you about Don and Pam’s coffee ministry in January. Don and Pam asked you to pray for hearts to be open to conversations and for the Holy Spirit to move during the summer event when they would have more access to people than normal.
Don said prayer is the foundation of this outreach, giving them confidence to not only approach people but try a variety of outreach methods. Not only did people stop for free coffee, but the team handed out cookie packets to festival workers picking up trash in the late mornings. The volunteers also worked with a local church offering a pancake meal for festival goers.
Through your prayers supporting these outreach efforts, 21 people gave their contact information and asked for more conversations about the Bible and Jesus. Three gave their life to Jesus.
“Prayers were definitely answered,” Don said. “Knowing that Southern Baptists are praying for the spread of the gospel in an area that is hard like this is so encouraging to us and the local believers. Thank you.”
In this area of Belgium, Don said close to 69% of the population believe there is no God and no life after death. He explained many of the oldest generation were once Roman Catholic, but their children walked away from religion. Now, the 20-30-year-olds have no idea about the Bible or Jesus. The missionary labeled this age group, “pre-Christian,” since they have not been exposed to Christianity at all.
The broad gospel seed-sowing project you prayed for is just the beginning. The Lynches ask you to continue praying as they follow up with contacts for discipleship and to answer questions.
- The Holy Spirit to continue working in the hearts of those who met with the evangelism team.
- Salvation! Pray for people to be drawn to Jesus by the Holy Spirit.
- More opportunities to share the gospel!