John, Paul, George and Ringo – Fab Four. The Beatles started in English Liverpool and were called the most influential band of all time.
But on Thursday, pastors and ministry leaders came to hear in Liverpool the the most influential person of all time – Jesus Christ – and be encouraged.
The gathering is part of a four-city evangelization summit that began Tuesday in Glasgow, Scotland, and continues next week in Cardiff, Wales, and London, England, on November 15th.
Thursday’s event was a reunion of some of the 500 attendees, who hugged old friends in the service while also connecting with new ones.
Paul Brown was one of many Scousers – a kind expression for the people of Liverpool – at the summit. Working for the Christian charity The Message Trust, his job is to “build relationships with guys in prison,” he said.
By teaching courses to some of the most violent prisoners, he is not afraid to share the Gospel. “The boys are desperate and really, really open,” they say of how 120 inmates have become Christians in the last 9-10 months. Brown haunts them through anger, depression and more.
Through his testimony, he connects with some, including prisoners who have considered taking their own lives.
I felt that way myself once.
On April 15, 1989, Brown was at Liverpool’s Hillsborough Stadium in a semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football teams. Sold out, the fans packed pens or stands.
The overcrowding caused the fans to crush each other. Climbing the 7-foot railing, Brown’s father came out, pulled him, and then Brown pulled his two friends. “We were the last to come out before they died.” The tragedy killed 96 Liverpool fans.
Brown wished that God had allowed him to die too.
“My life has just hit rock bottom,” he said, recently fired and about to divorce soon.
But God did not give up on him. Two months later, Paul pulled out the New Testament his brother had given him and opened it, looking for signs that God was real. The Lord gave him three signs and Brown began to cry.
“It was like God wrapped me in a warm blanket, wrapped his arms around me, and said, ‘Paul, I love you and I have a purpose and a plan for your life.’
And He did it.
“Since then, God has given me a heart for orphans, addicts, the homeless,” Brown said.
Sold out for God
“I’m really sold out for God,” offered Jilly Styles, a student from Sandbach, Cheshire, England. “Nothing else matters to me.”
When Franklin Graham came to England for the 2018 Lancashire Festival of Hope, Styles planned to leave.
But there were consequences.
“We had six family members who broke off ties with us,” she said, and she also lost friends. “We fought on social media for Franklin [Graham], ”Said Styles,“ and had such persecution for it. “
At Thursday’s summit, the topic of “displacement” was briefly discussed – meaning the removal from the possibility of expressing a Christian perspective in any public arena.
Three years ago in Blackpool, England, bus ads for the Lancashire Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham were published. Advertisements that simply read “Time for Hope” were removed because of Franklin Graham’s religious beliefs about traditional marriage.
In April this year, a court ruled that the Lancashire Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham was discriminated against by Blackpool City Council and Blackpool Transport Services Limited.
“This is an important moment for religious freedom in the UK,” Franklin Graham said in July. “We are grateful to God for the final outcome of this case and for what it will mean for churches and Christians across the UK in the years ahead.”
Styles came to the summit to support Franklin Graham and represent her church, the Hope Church in Crewe, England.
“I’ve had a lot of threats about preaching the cross, which you do,” she said, even death threats. } “It’s a high price.
“The gospel is free, but it costs you everything.”
‘Rare as chicken teeth’
“Pastors and believers need to look outward,” said summit speaker Dr Stephen McQuoid, CEO of GLO Europe, a Christian mission based in Motherwell, Scotland.
And go out into the community.
“We have to be authentic and real, but we have to understand this vision that there are people … who may never talk to a Christian or anyone who goes to church because church attendance is now ‘rare like a chicken tooth.’ ”
Speaking to pastors Thursday in Liverpool, “Unless we are [sharing Jesus], why should someone else do it? ”
The offer to take people with you to meet some non-Christian friends at the cafe is a good way to start, he said. “Show them how to” speak to Jesus “in a relaxed atmosphere.
“We have to take the lead. Come back [home] with a sense of urgency ”of what follows.
Paul Brown could not agree with that.
“I am expecting a rebirth. Whenever God makes a big shift in society, he says, it starts in prisons. See the Book of Acts or look at China, Iran, Afghanistan. ”
When God works in prisons, he said, then things start happening in the community.
“I see it in our prison and in the prison of my colleague. So I’m confident something big is going to happen. ”