Bas Rodwell, a 22-year-old missionary with Youth for Christ in Queensland, tells Anne Lim about a phenomenal night of outreach during Schoolies Week on the Gold Coast in November, when seven young men made decisions for Jesus and were baptised. Two of them then joined the team the following night to tell others about Jesus.
We had about 40 people every night from the first Saturday night of Schoolies Week until the last Friday night out on the street, sharing the gospel and praying for schoolies. We’re giving out Bibles, we’re giving out water, we have muesli bars to help the schoolies that are very dehydrated and need water or a bit of food to maybe sober up. We also gave out what we called Hope Cards, which have a QR code with a link to a bunch of cool testimonies and a video where someone explains and shares the gospel.
We all gathered in the church beforehand, worshipped, prayed; someone spoke and encouraged us, and then we all went out as a team for about four hours.
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One night was a phenomenal experience that only God could have orchestrated. As we were at our table, a local guy walked by on crutches with a huge thing wrapped around his left ankle. One of our guys stopped him and found out that he had had an accident in 2007 when he fell off a four-storey building. His whole body had recovered except for his left ankle and toes, which he still couldn’t move.
So, our team member offered to pray for healing. And after praying for his ankle to be healed, he asked the guy to test it to see if he could move it. This guy’s ankle began to slowly, slightly move, and then his toes twitched a bit and then started to wiggle and move, and for the first time since 2007, this guy moved his ankle and his toes, and he was obviously ecstatic, as you could imagine.
He was like, “Oh my gosh, wow, that’s amazing. What is this?” Then, our team member shared the gospel with him. We use this really cool tool called the three circles. It’s a great overview of sharing the gospel in a short amount of time. So anyways, he was like, “Yes, God is real. I want to follow Jesus and get baptised.”
We were gathering in the park the next night because the church was unavailable, so we arranged to meet in the park before our service for prayer and worship so we could baptise him. The next night rolls around and we get a message from him saying he couldn’t make it, he had a panic attack and was in the hospital. We told him not to worry: “Just let us know when you’re out and when you’re feeling better.” And so we do our service in the park. As my friend Luca was sharing and encouraging the group, a young guy, about 23 years old, sat down at the back and listened. Another of our team members went up to him at the end of our pre-meeting and was chatting with him and ended up sharing the gospel as well.
And this guy Liam said, “Oh, wow, I want to follow Jesus. I want to be a Christian and I want to get baptised. Can I get baptised here?” There was a little river right off the back of the park, so we said, “Yeah, totally. We’re just going to go out to outreach, but then we’re going to come back at the end; do you want to come out with us?” And he actually went out on outreach with us that night.
After outreach, we walked back to the park at about 1 am to baptise Liam. Nearly all the team members came as a whole group. Then we realised there was a whole bunch of schoolies there, so a few of us went and chatted with some of them. My friend Jesse and I started talking with some schoolies about Jesus and what we’re doing here and how we’re doing a baptism.
“The other night, I was at home in my room praying that my friends would come to know Jesus.”
One of the guys said, “This is crazy that you guys are here and you’re doing this, because about two months ago, for the first time, I had this experience with God, and now I believe God is real.”
Another guy said, “Really? Well, about six weeks ago, I was in a bad car accident, but I was completely unharmed, and I just thought, ‘Wow, God must have saved me and rescued me in that.’” Then we shared the gospel with these guys and they said, “Yep, yep, we want to follow Jesus and we want to be baptised.”
I was a bit hesitant because I never want to baptise anyone who does not seriously want to follow Jesus fully. So I was like, “Okay, guys, this means you’re giving up getting drunk, you’re giving up sleeping around before marriage. It means Jesus is number one.”
And they were like, “Yup, we know those things. They don’t even satisfy. We just want Jesus.” At that point, I knew these guys were serious.
Meanwhile, the other guy who was there with them had his hands on his head; he looked really shocked, and he was acting a bit strange. At the end, he goes, “This is too crazy. I’m a Christian, and I go to a local church here on the Gold Coast, and three days ago, my youth pastor talked about praying for our friends to come to know Jesus. So the other night, I was at home in my room praying that my friends would come to know Jesus. And here I am with my friends now and they want to follow Jesus.”
I was like, “Wow, that is just phenomenal.” So we went to get ready for the three baptisms.
I didn’t know that some of our crew were chatting with schoolies on the other side of the park, and two guys there decided to follow Jesus and get baptised. So all of a sudden, we’ve got five baptisms in the park at 2 am.
And we’re like, “This is great, what a night!” Then, the guy who was in the hospital comes walking down the park. So all of a sudden, we’ve got six baptisms. So we gathered everyone together – all the schoolies, all of our team, all the people that were in the park. It was like a big pack of people. And I shared the gospel with everyone in case anyone else wanted to follow Jesus.
Discipleship is really where my heart is.
As I’m preaching, sharing the gospel, and talking about what baptism is, a group of 15 people who were walking in the park came down and stood at the back. They were a group of 15 German backpackers. As I said, “Does anyone here want to give your life to Jesus, repent of your sin and be baptised just like these guys?”, one of the German backpackers sticks his hands up and goes, “Yeah, I want to follow Jesus and be baptised.” So we had seven guys get baptised that night at about 2.30 am on the Gold Coast, all real sincere, properly giving their lives to Jesus.
Everyone on our team was stoked. Then Liam, the 23-year-old guy, joined us every night for outreach and is fully being discipled by these guys, and he’s connected in with the local church that I go to. Same with the guy with the ankle and toe – he’s been coming to the local church with us down at the Gold Coast and then the two schoolies have been going to church with their friend.
A week later, another random schoolie contacted us and said, “Hey, did you guys baptise a whole heap of people at like 2am or 3am? One of my friends was one of the guys that got baptised and he is so different and so changed. And me and my other friend want to know like what this is and we want to be baptised as well because we want what he has now.”
Discipleship is really where my heart is. We can get out in the street and get people to pray a prayer, and that’s a seed and God can use that in the future, but I really want to see disciples made and people following Jesus and lives changed.
Even my heart with schoolies was, of course, we want them to know Jesus. But my secret desire with schoolies outreach is to get believers equipped and trained with how to share the gospel, which is what we did. We saw 40-50 people get out there for the first time to share their faith, and they loved it.