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From stadium to street: thousands flood Melbourne for Jesus

Thousands of people flooded the streets of Melbourne over the weekend to “love on people” and share about Jesus.

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Attendees of the three-day Awakening Australia event held at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium were encouraged to leave the enclosed venue on the afternoons of Saturday and Sunday to put into practice what they had heard from the podium.

“We want to see every believer be a labourer for the gospel, be a labourer for the harvest,” said one of the event organisers, Daniel Hagen, a pastor at Fire Church Ministries in Melbourne. “We’re sitting in a football stadium right now, but I believe that God isn’t looking for spectators – he’s looking for players.”

The stage at Awakening Australia, a 3-day event held at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.

The stage at Awakening Australia, a 3-day event held at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne. Awakening Australia

Estimates from security guards suggest there were about 15,000 people at each day at Awakening Australia, and hundreds of people responded to calls from the front across two nights to make a commitment to Christ.

Attendees heard from speakers including C3 leader Phil Pringle, Life Without Limbs author Nick Vujicic, tennis champion Margaret Court, and Bill Johnson, the senior pastor of US mega-church Bethel.

“For Australia, we want Australians to become missionaries to Australia.” – Ben Fitzgerald

Awakening Australia is the vision of two Aussie pastors, Ben Fitzgerald, director of Awakening Europe (and a former pastor at Bethel) and Daniel Hagen, pastor of Fire Church Ministries in Melbourne.

Awakening Europe has launched events in Latvia, Czech Republic, Sweden and Germany since its inception. But Fitzgerald, originally from Melbourne, said he felt called to come back to Australia with an event he believed would “win 100,000 souls in 2018.”

“There are people who are hungry for more of God,” Fitzgerald said on Friday night at the event. “I sense the Lord wanting to raise up people who want to become missionaries to their own nation. For Australia, we want Australians to become missionaries to Australia. Our heart is not to have another meeting, another big conference. But this is grassroots, where people take over and run with this. We want people to run back across the country, set on fire to see thousands of people in Australia turn back to God.”

More than 60,000 tickets to Awakening Australia were given away in a massive outreach in the week before the stadium events.

“The streets of Melbourne have been flooded with Good News,” said Fitzgerald.

Connor O’Neill was one of the thousands of Awakening attendees who went out onto the streets of Melbourne during the weekend.

“A core part of the event was centred around how to break free of the fear of the opinions of others to share the love of Jesus,”  Connor told Eternity.

“The streets of Melbourne have been flooded with Good News.” – Ben Fitzgerald.

Connor, who travelled from Sydney, teamed up with a few friends and headed over to the Mind Body Spirit Festival held at the Melbourne Convention Centre, close to the Awakening event.

“The idea was to ‘love on people’ – so not just tell people about Jesus but show them the love of Jesus by buying them lunch or offering prayer,” Connor said.

After trying to strike up conversation with some of the Mind Body Spirit Festival stallholders, Connor says he soon discovered that “they were also there to evangelise” – but not for Jesus. “We weren’t getting anywhere with them,” he laughed. The group moved on to some of the attendees sitting having lunch.

“We just sat down and started to talk to people, telling them what we were doing in the city. We all had the opportunity to pray for people.”

“They both said they wanted to put their faith in Jesus, and we prayed right then and there.” – Connor O’Neill

Connor noticed a young woman run past him crying and felt drawn to ask her what was wrong. When she told him she hadn’t been able to have the psychic reading she’d hoped to get at the festival, he offered to pray for her instead.

“I said that I could ask the Holy Spirit what he wanted to tell her. We prayed for the peace of God on her life. And I felt led to tell her that He is the father that will not let you down. And she started to cry again,” said Connor.

He also prayed for the woman’s friend, and they both felt overwhelmed that a “random guy from Sydney” had approached them in the foyer of a new-age festival and offered them prayer.

“They both said they wanted to put their faith in Jesus, and we prayed right then and there.”

Connor says that when the group went back to the stadium after their street evangelism, they were bombarded with similar testimonies: prayer for strangers that led them to God.

“This weekend has been history in the making. Something new has been birthed.” – Matt Prater

He said he’d come away from the weekend “pumped” and recommitted to being proactive in telling people about Jesus.

Matt Prater, Senior Pastor at New Hope Church in Brisbane and host of the History Makers programme on Vision Christian Radio, also attended Awakening. He told Eternity that the event was “an amazing display of church unity and worship.”

“This weekend has been history in the making. Something new has been birthed. We are in exciting times in our nation. With a big Stadium Prayer event in Sydney on the first weekend of December, and the Franklin Graham Tour in February, I have no doubt there will be more great events coming up that will impact our nation!”

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