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Catch the vision of a stadium full of hearts on fire for Christ

Live reports from the Jesus loves Australia launch event

4pm Shane Degan reveals the miraculous way he was able to pay the $280,000 to hire the north end of ANZ Stadium today.

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“We needed to get the deposit for the stadium of $75,000; we didn’t raise it in time, but we kept believing in God and the money came and a lot of people started coming on board and so it grew,” he said.

“Glory be to Jesus because he brought in $110,000, but just a week ago we still needed $170,000. We spoke to all the businesses and put all the seeds out there and exhausted everything we knew, and that night a man had a dream and he sent out some emails and next thing $100,000 came in and day by day there was more and more.

“It was impossible. Jesus did it. This is his event. It might not look like much. Do not despise the day of small beginnings. He did it, guys, we couldn’t – we had run as far as we could.”

Coming to the microphone, Jordan Mullen of Thrive Digital confessed that he had struggled with the idea of stadium evangelism, believing that it was something from the 60s.

“A week ago I had a dream that I woke up in an outdoor stadium and I was looking at people worshipping and I was talking to God ‘why the stadiums?’ and God spoke to me in the dream. I was really sceptical about God speaking to people in dreams, but he said ‘I’m doing this because I want to see my body unified and that is why the stadiums happen.’

“I instantly realised that this isn’t simply about measuring the effect of evangelism, although we want to see people come to Jesus, but God wants to bring the body of Christ together and in that the power of God is released.

“In Australia, we question when people step out in faith but we need to start supporting them. I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to encourage Shane.”

Degan commented: “We stepped out of the boat and we believed God. It was an amazingly hard journey. I moved here 12 months ago and I went around and started rallying churches. It took me six months to get one, but now 50 or 60 churches are behind me, so the momentum is gaining.”

He said Stadium Australia had told him he can book ANZ Stadium for a five-day gospel campaign next November.

“Just look around this place and say ‘how amazing is God!’ Can you imagine this place just filled with worshippers just praising God, and on top of that continuing that worship out on the streets by being Jesus,” Degan said.

He said he was talking to nine of the leading evangelists alive today and asking them to come to Sydney for a week “and most of those guys are saying ‘If the churches and believers get behind it, yes, we will be there.'”

On the Saturday after the event, a ministry called Every Home for Christ would partner in door-to-door evangelism. He said this little known ministry had visited two billion homes and brought more than 220 million to the Lord through door-to-door evangelism.

“There are 1.3 million homes in Sydney. Could you imagine 10,000 people getting out there and starting to doorknock those homes. Will you help us with this vision of reaching our city? … I believe working together we can win our nation back to Jesus. But we’ve got to build momentum. It’s going to take $2 million to do this.”

3.45pm Gordon, who was a counsellor at the Billy Graham crusades in 1959, says he has been waiting for 70 years for a man to come who will lead another such crusade.

“Pray that this stadium will be filled from top to bottom with hungry souls for the living water, who will come into the kingdom next year,” he says, adding that there will be a year of prayer leading up to the big event in November next year.

3.30pm In the last half-hour segment, Steve Bartlett, director of the Baptist Churches of NSW, explains why it’s so important to pray “your kingdom come.”

“When we pray ‘your kingdom come,’ God wants us to realise that he is in charge of his world and we can live in confidence that he is moving to his completion in our lives so we can live with security; but we also have parts to play in seeing more lives reflect his rule and his reign in this city and this state.

“In the end the most significant thing we can do is simply ask God to do what only he can do.”

3pm Shane Degan thanks the succession of people who have prayed to the dwindling crowd, who are still passionately calling out the name of Jesus. The enthusiasm of the stayers has not dwindled!

“We are all ministers,” comments Degan.

“You are all Jesus freaks!” comments Nathaniel Green, on keyboard, as another session of praise and worship begins.

2.30pm A lighter moment as a group of about 17 children, who have been having their own activities in a different room, take the stage. They march on the spot, clap their hands and do the actions to accompany the song I’m in the Lord’s Army.

Three brave children then pray, thanking the parents and grandparents in the stadium and the organisers. There are then prayers for blessing on the children, who will be the pastors, apostles and prophets of the next generation.

2.20pm The Jesus Loves Australia band bows out and leaves the stage as pastor Richard Pace of Light of the World Ministries comes to the podium to speak on revival by unity.

2pm It’s getting pretty hot here in the sun-filled ANZ stadium, but the heat generated by the singing is  more compelling. We’ve just belted out the superb Hillsong anthem What a Wonderful Name and now it’s the turn of the ever-inspiring Amazing Grace.

1.45pm Just chatted to Monique from Filipino Christian Fellowship in Rooty Hill, who was manning the bookstall. She was awestruck by the sight of people lying face down on the same grass where football teams play to thousands – but praying for God to use them in whatever way he sees fit, to bring the love of Jesus to our land.

1.15pm Plans are announced for an outreach on the streets from 4 o’clock, led by experienced evangelists. The idea is to hand out brochures to invite people to come to the concert tonight from 7pm at which they will hear a great gospel message.

Shane Degan is talking about the power of unity in fuelling Christian revival. He says Australia has a great history of revival. He pays tribute to Billy Graham, who sparked a great revival with his campaign in 1959, but says: “At the end of the day, this is up to us, the nobodies, the faceless ones, who are so transformed by the Jesus nature that they will share with the person at the checkout at Bunnings or at the petrol station. Stadiums are great but it’s all about the one person that needs to know the word of God.”

I’m moved to ask the girl who sells me a bottle of water for $4.50 what she makes of what is going on in the stadium. She says she used to go to church but “grew out of it.” I ask her if she believes in God. Yes, she says, but everybody does in a way, don’t they? I ask her if she takes it one step further and believes in Jesus. “Yes,” she says, “I was saved. I just don’t feel the need to go to church.” I didn’t think of it at the time but I should have said: Maybe you just haven’t found a church to suit you yet.

(Later, I mention this conversation to Shane Degan, who suggests I should have said “Maybe the church needs you!“)

1pm A group of worship leaders from Arabic churches are singing How Great is Our God in English and Arabic as a plane sky-writes Jesus above our heads, to great jubilation in the crowd. Apparently the organisers have no idea who did this!

The crowd is now chanting enthusiastically “Australia for Jesus! Australia for Jesus!”

12.45 About 20 people have gone forward to kneel on the grass before the platform to join in the prayers for revival and peace for the nation as a united body of believers.

A pastor from Arabic Prayer Network says, although the word Arabic can have a negative connotation, “we are inundated in the love of Jesus that will not let us fear anything. We stand here on a rock solid foundation, the Lord Jesus. He can defeat fear and terror. He is our Prince of Peace who can fill our life with his presence.”

He says Australia was once called Australis Espiritu Sanctus – the south land of the Holy Spirit – and he calls on the gathering to sense the awesomeness of this name, and reclaim that name for our nation.

12.30pm After an exhilarating worship session, pastors of many different backgrounds and races – Arabic, African, Pacific Islander and Asian – are taking the stage at the ANZ Stadium to intercede with God for a Christian revival in this land.

A Korean female pastor prays: “We received so much from this nation. Right now we ask all the ethnicities to rise up and unite with Australian brothers and sisters and save this land. We truly are the gift to this nation. Help us rise, up, Lord, and together we will change this Australia.”

An English pastor urges the crowd to put behind them their apathy about the evils that are creeping into our culture: “The Lord wants to encourage us to absolutely believe and to know deep down in their hearts that you are important – the body of Christ is one body and every believer in it has a part to play; no one is insignificant. Everybody is an influence somewhere in their lives, and our prayer, Lord, is that every aspect of our lifestyle, if we call ourselves a believer, will be a witness and a testimony to your power.”

12pm Evangelist Chad Clark, from Fuel the Fire Ministries in Texas, is addressing the crowd.

He tells the story of Daniel Nash, who prayed for days on end, asking for the presence of God to come before the revival in Rochester New York in 1830.

“You’ve got to have an expectancy and a faith that God will answer your prayers,” he says.

“What if you had the same faith for your prayers to be answered that you have for your salvation? It’s possible because the word says it’s possible.

“Faith comes by hearing but hearing comes from the word of God. If you’re going to have that kind of faith, you will find it in the infallible word of God. Find promises in the word of God that you can pray, and you can pray with 100 per cent confidence.”

If we, with our evil natures, are willing to give good gifts to our children, “How much more, God, are you willing to pour out your spirit on Australia? Pray that God’s name would be holy again in Australia.”

11.45am Shane Degan is praying for the lost – he estimates 22 million of Australia’s 24 million people don’t know Jesus and face a Christ-less eternity. “These are our friends, our mothers, our sisters, our brothers,”  he says.

“We love Jesus and we are asking that you would pour out your spirit to open the eyes of the blind, open the ears of the deaf – not because we’re right and they’re wrong but because you did this for us and we were once blind and didn’t see … and we’re so grateful for what you’ve done and … we are asking that you would sovereignly move in this nation to bring our friends, mothers and sisters home to God.”

Indigenous Christians are now on the platform accepting the apology of other Christians, while also seeking forgiveness and healing and saying “let’s do this together.”

A husky-voiced Aboriginal pastor, who was on alcohol and drugs for 38 years “because of the pain,” says he has been a Christian for only three years and a pastor for 11 months. “Our God is mighty to save. If he can do this for me he can do it for everyone.”

11.15am Indigenous, Jewish and other Christian pastors are leading corporate prayers of repentance and seeking forgiveness for disobedience, idolatry and laziness. And now we are breaking into small groups to pray for repentance. Today Sydney is on its knees …

Bob Mendelssohn of Jews for Jesus prays at Jesus Loves Australia

11am:  Shane Degan tells the crowd there is so much so much darkness in our nation – domestic violence, mental illness, and family breakdown. “As a nation we have lost our way, we lift our nation to you, God, we repent for what we have done as a nation and ask that through the blood of Jesus and the spirit of God you could bring our nation back to you,” he says to shouts of Hallelujah.

“The love that comes through Jesus would cause us to love one another and … all these problems that wreak havoc in our society would be healed because of the love of Jesus.”

He also made a call to unity among churches as a lynchpin of turning back the nation to Jesus.

“We believe it is possible for this nation to turn back to Jesus … because each person stands up to say I am a son of God and I am part of a family and together we can see our nation to come back to Jesus. We have been divided for far too long in the house of God.”

10.30am Standing with a couple of hundred of worshipping Christians, it’s easy to catch the wild vision of evangelist Shane Degan of filling the massive ANZ Stadium in Sydney, as he hopes to do next November.

We only occupy two of the 40-plus sections of this outdoor sports arena – and that thinly – but with hearts aflutter and arms held high it’s easy to imagine what an impact such a gathering could have on our nation if every one of the thousands of seats was filled.

So far we’ve sung How Great is our God, Ten Thousand Reasons and I Can Only Imagine, and the atmosphere is electric. Knowing that every person here loves Jesus enough to give up their Saturday to show their love for their Saviour is exciting.

So far I’ve talked to Keza, a young bi-racial woman who is here as a volunteer with YWAM, and Jeanette, who is volunteering on behalf of her church, Light of the World Ministry at Toongabbie in Sydney’s west.

While Shane Degan, whose vision ignited this event, has been seen as a lone actor, with no church denomination behind him, Jeanette says many different churches, especially from the Pentecostal stream, are backing him. Read more here.

More to come ..

 

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