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"McMission" Takes God to the Streets

When street gangs took over the parking lot of a McDonalds, a local pastor came up with an idea to help the beleaguered restaurant manager.


Confrontational evangelism took on a striking quality at the beginning of the renewal movement in the little town of Quispamsis, near St. John, New Brunswick, and members of Abundant Life Vineyard Church hoped that one day the local McDonalds restaurant sign which read "over … billions served," would apply more to evangelism than food.

" … We've had the police, we've hired security, we've done everything we can. Nothing works."

Although the church is located in an upper middle class neighbourhood, the local McDonalds became a gang hangout for the town. Up to 200 teens took over the parking lot with gang fights, loud music, drugs and drink. That summer police were called many times but the situation was out of control. Enter—pastor Stephen Witt—who just happened to be going for a prayer walk when 12 kids began harassing a female manager in the restaurant.

"Is there a problem," Witt offered.

"There's always a problem," she answered.

Witt knew about the problem, but at that point, he says, the Lord gave him an idea. "I've got a plan that will clear the parking lot," he offered.

She threw up her arms in despair, "Impossible. We've had the police, we've hired security, we've done everything we can. Nothing works."

"We'll send a team up here and tell them about Jesus," he challenged.

Her face brightened, "That might work!"

Abundant Life Church had been the centre of renewal for many denominations in the neighbourhood since Witt and five other leaders had brought back the transferable anointing from the Toronto Airport Church. Since then the congregation had doubled and people prayed for opportunities to witness their new love for Jesus practically.

That Friday during their renewal meeting, the church appointed a team who had never tried confrontational evangelism let alone faced a mob of belligerent teenagers: "We called forward a team of guys, we laid hands on them and sent them over to McDonalds."

The group walked into the parking lot and found no intimidation. Instead teens hungered to know more about Jesus. "One of our [ministry team members] started praying for people." As they received prayer, "something began to happen inside them similar to what we are experiencing in our renewal—like shaking," recalls Witt. Many pushed, lined up, and literally begged for prayer ministry saying, "We want that! We want that!"

Many conversions occurred and the church was viewed by the teens as a place of safety …

Over the next few months four "McMissions" were sent out from Abundant Life until the winter cold finally shut down the teen gatherings. Many conversions occurred and the church was viewed by the teens as a place of safety away from the gang battles.

"Since the renewal, there's such an incredible boldness to share Christ," says Witt about his congregation. "They are taking on the challenge." Witt admits that Abundant Life had always been a "seeker-friendly" church with people getting together to play games, but now they were talking more about what God was doing in their lives. "Before they wanted to do fun things—now they are ministering together."

As well as the McMissions, Abundant Life rented the local skating rink, served food and provided both secular and Christian music to the neighbourhood. That Christmas members organized a living Nativity scene that drew 1000 and offered free gift-wrapping services in the malls.

Abundant Life is well-located near a food strip to continue their evangelism. But it's their spiritual location that Witt believes will keep them growing.

"Guess what Quispamsis means," asks Witt. "Tree by the water! We're connected to the Living Water!"

Gail Reid is a writer and editor based in Toronto.

Originally published in Spread the Fire, March/April 1995.
www.tacf.org/

 

 
 
 
 

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