“Lord, for a mighty revival we plead,
Lord, give us souls, Lord give us souls.” – Salvation Army Song Book, 431
The 2019 Old Orchard Beach (OOB) Pier Festival (July 27 – August 2) was another memorable event that resulted in people experiencing new life in Christ for the first time! In one of the most biblically illiterate regions of the US, we saw a real hunger and thirst for God in the lives of the people who came out to see the festival, that both surprised and delighted us.
Night after night, the Pier Festival “show” successfully drew the crowds and kept them there with its focus on family-friendly, gospel-oriented entertainment. Our onstage performers included regular fan favorites such as Bryan Drake the Illusionist, Tucker Rodkey from Painting Freedom, and the musical stylings of DJ Morph. We welcomed for the first time, Gospel Rap artist, George Moss who really knew how to captivate a crowd with his art form and spoken word artist Abby Robinson. Likewise, our Salvation Army music and gospel arts groups (The Aerialist, CAST, MOVE Dance Company, Sand Story, Summer Brass, Unbound, and the Cameron Family from Toronto) stepped it up this year, not only achieving new levels of stage excellence but a greater emphasis on intentional outreach and spiritual engagement with the audience.
Beginning the week with Team Training, we were taught by Dr. Matt Friedeman, an acclaimed Wesleyan scholar and church planter, and Captain Michael Laro, Evangelism Team Leader, on the importance of reaching out to people with our smiles and our body language in the hopes of starting a conversation. Members of the Evangelism Team successfully put these methods into practice. In fact, the entire Pier Festival Team were encouraged to make evangelism and witnessing to others a top priority.
In terms of evangelistic outreach, we had our best year ever: 42 people made a commitment to Christ! 273 people were prayed for. Nearly 1000 conversations about faith were had and over a thousand Bibles, books, and tracts were given out. In the weeks and months to come, every effort will be made to connect those people to a corps or church in their area so that their faith can continue to grow and develop. Nearly 6000 people saw the Pier Festival via the social media Livestream. We can only imagine how God used this 21st-century method to publish abroad the claims of the Gospel.
One of our Evangelism Team members from Québec, who at the beginning of the week expressed fear and hesitation because she struggled with the English language, was used by God to bring 6 of her fellow Québécois to salvation! There are no obstacles to what God can do through us when we remain open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
We were blessed to have our international leaders, General Brian and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle take part in this year’s Pier Festival. Often they could be seen greeting the crowds, working with our team to share the Gospel to all who would listen. There was a wonderful synergy as well between the services at the Pavilion and the outreach at the Pier and we thank our territorial leaders for their support of our efforts.
We give glory to God for all he has done during the 2019 OOB Pier Festival and can’t wait to see his hand at work as we prepare for 2020. Lord, give us souls!