Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Dustin for President!

2018 marked the 52nd annual Jazz Festival along the promenade of Lake Geneva in Montreux Switzerland.  For 11 of those 52 years, YWAM Lausanne has organized an outreach called Regeneration where they creatively share God's love with thousands from around the world who attend this Festival.  It was a privilege for UniShow to return this year for our 8th Regeneration.

In recent years, Regeneration has become part of a larger collaboration called Open Up which includes a group from England who minister to kids and parents each day of the Festival through games, bouncy castles and conversations.  Also in Open Up is a key partner who has a permanent Kiosk by the Lake where Bibles and Christian literature are available in many languages all year long and is a great spot during the Festival for performances, witnessing and to get the cheapest cold bottled beverages at the Festival. 

This year, Regeneration again hosted a team of nearly 100 people from dozens of nations who took to the streets of the Festival to share the hope and love of Jesus with attendees and vendors.  Each evening from 1-13 July 2018, a hospitality team provided refreshments, smiles and a listening ear.   The evangelism team roamed the festival praying for people and leading them to Jesus.  A children's team painted faces and blew balloons.  The performance team shared music, unicycling, dance, drumming, acrobatics, clowning, mime, drama, slam, spoken word and testimonies with the crowds who gathered.

We were a bit more restricted in what we could do from the stage this year due to complaints from nearby vendors.  We had to keep sound decibels down and sharing about God to a minimum.  But truth still went out, many of Dustin's tract cards with the Gospel on them were distributed and many personal conversations were had. 

Dustin had many fans at the Festival.  One of our favorites was super animated and cheered loudly throughout a show one evening.  When Dustin was sharing about what led to him pursue his world championship and said he wanted to be the best unicyclist in the world, she shouted, "You are!!!"  Then when he rolled out his 10 foot unicycle for the grand finale, she yelled, "Dustin for president!!!"

During another show when Dustin said only Jesus can fill the emptiness in our lives, a man shouted sarcastically, "Ok fine show me what Jesus can do!"  A nearby team member sensed a witnessing opportunity and shared with the man what Jesus did in her life.  He was very moved and said he wanted to cry.  What a privilege to be able to point people to the Answer they are looking for.

In all, our group presented 126 performances for over 15,000 people, had conversations about God with 870+ people and prayed for 442 of them, handed out 134 Bibles and 1,460 drinks, and saw 24 people give their lives to Jesus and one was even baptized right there in Lake Geneva!

Please pray for each seed scattered to grow!  Especially pray for a lady from Iran who surrendered to Jesus after hours of conversation with a team member.  She could face the death penalty if she returns home as a Christian.  Pray for protection, wisdom, fellowship, and growth for our new sister in Jesus!

Some of Dustin's faithful fans came to every show. Filipino and Indian workers caring for an elderly woman vacationing with her family from Saudi Arabia.

Lausanne is the VERY FIRST YWAM training location established in 1969 and has historical significance in our personal lives as well.  Katie's parents served here in the early '70s and were discipled here as new believers.  It is amazing to be following in their ministry footsteps through a continued partnership with this YWAM base!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Jesus for Germany

We had our longest European UniShow tour from May 7 - June 10, 2018 across Germany. Our team consisted of:
4 Colombian dancers from Sal y Luz (Salt and Light) Dance Company
1 Ukrainian painter from ArtShow
1 American unicyclist from UniShow
1 American illusionist called Mr. Norm (for first 10 days of tour)
1 Canadian musician called Rob Carter (for last 4 weeks of tour)
1 American sound engineer from Turkey
1 program director from America
1 driver from Germany
3 videographers and photographers from Germany and Brazil
1 American tour leader from Turkey
1 German organizer

Together we stormed the streets of Germany with our MADGiCycle Express (Magic, Music, Art, Dance and Unicycling in Germany) show to creatively share the Gospel. Because there are now so many refugees living in Germany, many of them Muslim, there is a huge opportunity and new accessibility to reach unreached people with the Good News.

We partnered with churches and ministries across Germany these 5 weeks for outreaches, focusing on Muslim refugees. We heard everywhere we went that what we did was groundbreaking work in Germany. There is a spiritual awakening among believers. They are ready to step out of their comfort zones and share Jesus with the mission field at their doorsteps but haven't known how to start. Watching us share creatively, clearly and boldly and being part of these outreaches seemed to really inspire and motivate many church members.

A highlight was presenting a Day of Joy at a mental hospital in Sendeh with Lonea Ministries. Some residents even danced and sang along and smiles transformed disturbed faces as we shared hope and joy in Jesus. We were told that churches do not visit, care or even pray for people at this institution so our presentation was very significant.

In Berlin we partnered with Teen Challenge and performed in a rough part of the city with prostitution, fights, drunks and drug deals surrounding us. We had to do very small scale presentations because permissions had not been granted. Though things were lacking in sound quality, audience numbers and venue location, God showed up and specifically met 3 people who were visibly impacted by the Gospel message and surrendered their lives to Jesus on the spot.

It was great to work with Jesus Freaks Remscheid for our final week. We presented in the city center, at an immigrant youth club at the YMCA, and for the church's Sommer Fest where many from a nearby refugee house attended. Church members were not only extremely hospitable, but told us they were very impacted by how we clearly, simply and powerfully shared the Gospel, making it easy for non-Christians to understand. We learned that many at our shows had never heard the Gospel before.

Over these 5 weeks in Germany we did 39 events for 4,230 people in 17 cities.

Please pray that:
- the many seeds scattered among unbelievers will grow into lasting fruit.
- the Christians we worked with will step out with even greater boldness to reach Muslims and refugees with the Gospel.
- each person interested in knowing more about what we shared will get connected to local believers and fellowships.
- refugees will find hope and healing in Jesus.
- the church in Germany would live and minister from the foundation of God's Word.

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Aloha from Albania!

'Aloha' is the Hawaiian word for love, peace, compassion and mercy, commonly used as a simple greeting. Our team of 8 from Australia, Albania, America and Korea, chose the name Team Aloha and had the privilege of extending these virtues across Albania packaged in a performance infused with the Gospel. We surprised ourselves with how much fun the Aloha show was to perform.

Donning Hawaiian shirts, we hit the stage for 65 minutes of non-stop action combining unicycling, drama, dance, music and most importantly, the Gospel message. We partnered with an Albanian church planter who has used these creative performances over the years to start more than 20 churches. In some cities and villages we partnered with young churches and in other cities we joined nationals who are working on starting a church where none exists.

Our organizer worked hard to secure permission from mayors and officials in each city. Police were present at most events, blocking off streets and diverting traffic, clearing parking lots, helping keep the peace among rowdy kids, and generally keeping an eye on things. On this tour we also had the unique experience to record some of our show at TV 7 studio in Tirana, which aired a week later.

We heard very encouraging feedback regarding our presentations. One pastor said he felt our event changed the atmosphere and showed that the church comes out of their walls to share with the community. He noted that people were very affected by the message. Another long-term partner thought our show was the best he's seen from our group over the years. He was very encouraged afterward with the amount of youth who asked him for details about how to connect with the church. 

Another pastor said in his 4 years of leading his church he has never seen so many people interested in taking Bibles and literature before. He was amazed to see how the performance drew people in and opened them to the message. Local workers said it was a beautiful performance unlike anything the community has seen before. 

During a city center show, we were surprised that the nearby cafés turned their music down as Dustin led in a prayer of surrender to Christ. Church members saw a lady who is a known atheist pray the prayer! Another lady said she felt deliverance during the message and a Presence she had never felt before.

In another city, believers are trying to plant the first church. A local Christian lady was so encouraged by our show there and even helped hand out literature at the end. She and her husband were part of the church that fizzled many years ago and their own walk with God went with it. She asked us to pray for the opportunity to fellowship with other believers again. Team members talked to an Imam who started to debate until he was shown verses in the Koran that say Jesus died and rose again. They read to him from John 1 explaining what we believe. The Imam was open to reading the Bible and learning more. And we know of several people who made professions of faith in Jesus during the show! With the great response and so many interested in learning more about Jesus, it looks promising that a new church will begin here soon. 

We performed in front of a Mosque in a city which is half Muslim, half Catholic and mostly in need of a relationship with Jesus. During the invitation and prayer of surrender to Jesus, several people indicated they were choosing Jesus for the first time! One of those people was a 21 year old who said, "Today I changed my belief. I was a Muslim but when I heard the Christian message I wanted to follow Jesus."

We performed in another city which is 95% Muslim and has not had a church in 15 years. There is a Christian couple whom our organizer and a business man have been driving 3 hours each Saturday to disciple and mentor. Since unemployment and poverty in Albania is common, and often the reason new churches struggle, they are implementing a new model of simultaneously opening an electronics business in the city along with the church, to help support the pastor and church. This ambitious couple hope to get both the church and the electronics shop up and running as soon as they are grounded and have a solid team prepared to lead.

Our church planting organizer has a wise strategy of not hastily throwing a church together but waiting until the foundation is strong enough to support a lasting fellowship. He wants to plant churches, not play church, and his methods seem to be working. He reminded us that as we do these evangelistic events we are pushing, fighting, attacking the gates of hell. We are not just preaching the Gospel but breaking mentalities. He said people in Albania think church is stale, boring, lifeless tradition. But when they see dancing, lively music, and a world champion performing and sharing about Jesus, they realize people in the church are normal, fun and it shatters misconceptions about who Jesus is.

After each presentation, many surveys were collected from interested people requesting follow-up. Church members will contact each person and begin discipling them. In summary, we presented to 3,150 people during 11 events plus a TV broadcast that will be viewed by many people in Albania, Kosovo and USA.

Please pray for:
-The thousands of people who heard the Gospel and the hundreds who indicated a first time commitment to Jesus, to keep growing in their understanding of who Jesus is.
-Wisdom as church members follow up with those wanting to know more about the Bible and Jesus.
-The churches to grow in depth, numbers and unity.
-More workers and believers in Albania to serve in the church and reach out in evangelism.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Colossians 3:12

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Shut Down But Not Silenced

From 4 to 15 April, our group of 12 left Istanbul and headed east for our first Turkey tour of 2018. We called this the DDUM Tour since our show consisted of Drama, Dance, Unicycling and Music.

Once we reached Malatya, we paused to rehearse at the church, then moved on to Tunceli with 6 bold and active church members who supported us for events in this part of the largest unreached country on earth.

We passed through several check points on our way to Tunceli, the last one at the entrance to the city where police thoroughly investigated our literature, equipment and passports. We had planned on doing spontaneous shows but after police videoed themselves telling us we could not perform without permission, our leaders went to work seeking approval. Amazingly they were quickly granted permission from all the necessary officials which led to some of the best events we’ve had in Turkey.

Two nights in a row we presented in Tunceli to over 800 people who were very open and interested in our presentation and we didn’t hear one complaint!

We had many great conversations with people eager to learn more about Jesus. After our first show, one guy who had been encouraged to ask God to show Himself, actually saw Jesus in a dream that night! Our friends from Malatya Church didn’t waste any time following up on dozens of interested people. They are really hoping to plant the first church in the city from those new contacts. Previous outreaches in Tunceli have been met with apathy and hardness so it was refreshing and encouraging to see so much receptiveness and be part of the special work God is doing there. Tunceli was a tour highlight for most team members.

Eleven years ago, 3 Christians were martyred in Malatya. God has turned tragedy into good and this is now one of the easiest cities for workers to serve, since the city is trying to repair their negative reputation. We presented at the Malatya Church for their Easter Outreach. It was a cozy space so we adapted our show but still had the opportunity to encourage church members and help connect 20 new people.


In an unprecedented request, we were thrilled to be invited to teach Christianity through seminars and our show at a school in Viranşehir. Though our team drove 5 hours on hilly, windy roads just for this event, the school made excuses and cancelled the event the night before and try as they might, our leaders were unable to obtain permission for any replacement show. A Malatya church member had driven an additional 5 hours to seek permission to present in Ovacık since a policeman who worked there had seen us perform in Tunceli and wanted to help us get permission to perform in his town. Permission was granted on all levels and the municipality even offered to promote our show over loud speakers! However, another official learned of our plan, stating he “knows who we are”, complained to the governor and managed to get all permissions thrown out the window.

We felt a bit deflated, but we know things don’t come easily when we are directly attacking the enemy’s strongholds and dealing with officials who hate what we are doing. Though we were denied performing in a few cities, team members still took opportunities to share Jesus with people they met along the way, so not all was lost.

In Ankara, Turkey’s capital, we presented late at night downtown after the police had gone home. Church members, many of whom are new believers, were very excited to help us present in their community.

Team members had very meaningful, personal conversations with individuals whom God seemed to have prepared for that moment. Though we had a small crowd and our show wasn’t in the best part of town, God reminded us that Jesus came for the drunks, rose sellers and cheaters. This evening showed us some of His generous heart and the lengths He will go to reach people.

We drove back to Istanbul for our final shows. After one by the seaside, we presented without incident to interested people, but afterward police came in a huff and detained us as they looked at our literature. The finally let us go but not before cursing and spitting at a team member.

To wrap up the tour, we partnered with Life Church in a bustling, wealthy area of Istanbul for 2 shows just below their church. Several hundred watched, no one complained, and some were interested in learning more about Jesus. The pastor said it was very inspiring for the church to see bold, public proclamation of the Gospel to the crowds they usually only see passing by below as they look out their window above.

In all we had the opportunity to share with over 1,500 people in 7 presentations. Turkey is a tough place to minister on a good day and with the state of emergency looming over people, it’s even harder. Police and passport checks became routine, we struggled with sickness and discouragement, and we just might be crazy for even trying to publicly share Jesus in Turkey. Yet we saw God at work and use our efforts to specifically reach people with His great love and truth, and that made it all worth it.

Please pray for:

-Those in Tunceli who saw our show and are now studying the Bible with believers. Pray that a church will be planted from these contacts.
-All those who heard the Gospel and received literature from us (police included) to grow in their understanding of God’s love.
 -Many more in Turkey to see dreams and visions of Jesus that will open their hearts to His salvation.
-Churches in Malatya, Ankara and Istanbul to continue to make bold efforts to reach their community with the Gospel.