Open Air Story of the Month
Posted January 2016
We covet your prayers for this frontline ministry. OAC Los Angeles Branch Director, Russ Hodder, tells of the call he received from one of his voluntary workers, who had decided go down to their scheduled Newport Pier open-air site early. She told Russ it was totally gridlocked. He prayed, and decided to change the location last minute to Seal Beach. While he knew it would also be very crowded, the team would at least not face gridlock in the parking structure. Russ managed to contact everyone, and they all converged on the site from every direction; everyone arrived at about the same time. Though it was very crowded, God got all 13 of the team members immediate parking, and they were able to have six very successful and well-attended open-air meetings! God delights in answering even the smallest of requests on our behalf.
Posted December 2015
Do you have those times when you are low on money and you go searching the sofa, junk drawers and coat pockets for loose change? Our OAC man in Idaho, Mark Kennedy, tells of a time when he was low on gospel tracts and went searching around for anything he could find to use at his upcoming meeting outreach. He found a curious assortment including a wordless book with pictures that tell of creation, ten commandments, the cross and the resurrection. The tract Mark found is no longer printed in this particular format, so he was saving it as it was the last one. This day, it was going in the tract box. D uring one of his meetings out in the open air, a man named Patrick approached the team and asked what was going on. Mark asked what he knew of Jesus, the Bible and the gospel message, which wasn't very much, and at the end offered Patrick a Bible to take with him. Patrick said he couldn't read anymore because of an injury received by a gunshot wound to the head. But guess what Mark had in his tract box? That wordless book was the perfect piece of literature for Patrick, one that had no words but clearly illustrated the gospel message. Mark went through the tract with Patrick, and he took it with him saying he could also go to the local library and listen to the Bible on a computer.
Posted November 2015
In ever increasing numbers, folks from other countries are coming to our doorstep. Sharing the Gospel with these folks out in the open air in their homeland would be dangerous and even illegal in many cases. But here in the USA, God gives us an open door of opportunity and our staff step through these open doors on a daily basis. One week, our Boston branch of OAC kept track of all the countries represented as they shared Christ with individuals. They reached people from Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, England, France, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Russia, Spain, Turkey, and Vietnam, along with many Americans!
Posted October 2015
Rejoice with us at this report from staff man Zane Dempsie: "It was evident that God was moving on the Indiana State University (IUP) campus. The day started out like any other day on campus. This was the second day we preached there this semester. Matthew Smart, my ministry partner and pastor, preached first. Some students stopped, and we were able to engage in conversation. Praise God! Then, I painted up a message to preach and discuss "Worldviews." After preaching for about ten minutes, a group of students came out to the patio of the building, took out their notebooks and began to listen and take notes. I soon realized this was a class of students, and their professor brought them out to listen to the preaching as part of their class for the day. I found out that it was an English class, and after I preached the Gospel several times, they began to raise their hands and ask questions. The professor even raised her hand at one point to ask a question. This was truly amazing to see how God was moving. This went on for over 40 minutes! As the class came to an end, the students went back inside, but many other students stopped by, and we were able to continue having gospel conversations throughout the rest of the afternoon.
Posted May 24 2015
Our OAC Michigan Director, Brian Harmon, tells of how they have been praying for Justin's salvation (a senior at Perry High School). The first week of April, Justin and Brian started meeting outside of the normal Bible study program at school. During their first conversation, Justin shared how he wasn't a Christian because he wanted to investigate things further, didn't know if he was deserving... and he wasn't 100% sure he wanted to leave his "fleshly" life behind him. Needless to say, Brian was encouraged at this initial conversation and asked if he would be willing to read three books of the Bible. Fast forward over spring break. They met again, and this time, Justin was excited to share that over spring break, he had read Matthew, John, and started Romans. He said, "As I got through chapter three in Romans, I stopped reading and found myself talking to God silently. I asked God to forgive me for all of my sins and asked Jesus to save me. I want you to know, I'm born again now." Please keep praying for Justin as he launches into the Christian journey. They are doing weekly Bible studies right now - going through the Navigators Bible Study material.
Posted April 16 2015
We are thankful that God uses our staff not only out on the front lines of evangelism but also to help equip others to do the same. This year, our one-week sketchboard evangelism training (SET) sessions will, once again, take place in Boston and Washington, DC and already, our Boston location is full to capacity! In between these SET sessions throughout the year, training continues to take place as shared by one of our OAC staff members in the Baltimore/Washington, DC area, Chris Reick. Chris was able to train a team in his local church earlier this year so they could travel to Cambodia and use the sketchboard ministry in that location. One of those whom Chris trained, by the name of Joyce, was able to take the skills she learned in the class all the way to Cambodia and present a Gospel sketchboard-style message to the kids there. It is so amazing to realize how God orchestrates all this for His glory and uses us to build up one another so the lost can receive a clear presentation of salvation.
Posted March 17 2015
Our Field Director, Eric Briscoe, reported that we had a wonderful week of open-air ministry with college students and OAC staff in Miami. Eric led this team recently to reach out with the Gospel to those on spring break in this part of Florida. Every night, they had conversations with Saudi Muslims on South Beach. The students testified on Friday that before they came, they were either told or believed themselves that this type of evangelism would not work. After the week with us they were all convinced that meaningful relationships and Gospel conversations were entered into through the power of the Gospel and the working of the Holy Spirit. We had 27 adult meanings with 540 in attendance and five kids meetings with 165 in attendance. God worked in a great way and we are grateful.
Posted February 15 2015
Our Los Angeles Director, Russ Hodder, tells of his days doing open-air ministry as a student in Bible college where a young twenty-year-old Hispanic man by the name of Rodolfo trusted Christ in one of the meetings in downtown Los Angeles. He then later led 12 of his immediate family to Christ and worked with us for several years as a volunteer. Russ had lost track of him for the last number of years, often wondering how he was doing. Last spring, Rodolfo and members of his extended family showed up at one of our open-air meeting locations on Santa Monica Pier. His younger brother Carlos had found us on the internet and called asking for our schedule but did not reveal who he was! They wanted to surprise Russ, and what a wonderful reunion that was. The entire family still continues to faithfully serve the Lord to this day. Rodolfo is now coming up on his 60th birthday. We praise God for this fruit that has matured, multiplied and lasted all these years.
Posted January 19 2015
It is very encouraging to hear testimonies of how God has used this open-air outreach through the years in the lives of many individuals. A lady named Linda shared with us how in the summer of 1975, she was with a group of friends in Ocean City, Maryland, who decided to mock some of our open-air workers who were sharing Christ at the shore one evening. But God had other plans as one of the team shared the gospel message with Linda and she knelt down on the beach and prayed to receive Christ. Linda recently told us that she wanted to say a special “thank You” from the depths of her soul because our workers were faithful to God that night. She told us, “I obtained a degree in Christian missions, married a godly man, and served the Lord in Lebanon and Canada with my dear husband … we have seen people saved and much seed has been sown … all my children have made professions of faith.”
Posted December 20 2014
Our staff in the Boston area spoke to a veteran police officer for the city who stopped by at one of our open-air meetings at the Boston University campus. After 15 years on the force, he became discouraged and disillusioned about who he had become. He said, “I had become like the people I was arresting.” He quit the force and became a recluse in his home, not wanting to face society. He said, “I have not told anyone but my wife, but I actually attempted suicide.” He had also signed up for a psychology class at Boston University to try and figure out what had happened to him, and this is where we met him that day. The 45-minute conversation with our staff left him with a desire to search the Scriptures and an OAC staff telephone number.
Posted November 17 2014
Jesus said, “I will build my Church…” One of the core values of OAC is strong involvement with the local church. What a blessing it is to train and minister alongside many local churches here in the USA and around the world. In the Boston area, our OAC team is blessed to work with the Arabic Evangelical Baptist Church on an ongoing basis. During one particular week, our OAC Boston staff spent four days with them conducting 15 open-air meetings. The church members formed a choir which helped attract many to the open-air location and an Arabic literature table was set up near the sketchboard which resulted in many Muslims engaging in Arabic conversations with the local church members about faith in Christ. At the end of the week, the Arabic church had a barbecue and concert at their church and 33 Muslims attended who had been at various open-air meetings the preceding five days!
Posted October 23 2014
OAC staff man Mark Kennedy worked with a local church in Texas recently and here is an encouraging word from one of the church members about that experience: “I just want to take moment to say thank you for helping our church spread the Word of God! Mark came to our church and shared his lesson on how to engage people and share the Word … I went to one of our tailgate parties before our local homecoming game and boy were we blessed! It was so easy to jump in and pass out tracts and share God's Word. The story boards pulled the people in and gave everyone a fun and inventive way to share their faith!! What a joy it was to see my very own students from High School and Middle School join in the fellowship! One of youth was able to witness to the cheerleaders … they even offered to place tracts in every football program they handed out! Many seeds were planted and I am so blessed to see the product of those planted seeds in my classroom!”
Posted September 16 2014
After seeing OAC staff man, Eric Briscoe, on the Boston University campus sharing his faith on the sketchboard, God opened the door for further ministry as one of the professors invited Eric to speak to students in his Introduction to Religion class; it was an awesome opportunity. After making sure all the students had their syllabi in hand, the professor introduced Eric and told the class he represented a modern version of Christianity. He told the class that Eric would be speaking for 35 minutes and the remaining 15 minutes would be devoted to questions. Using the sketchboard, Eric presented the message of the gospel, emphasizing pride, sin and the difference between theology and religion. He used the example of Moses on the mountain with God and Aaron at the bottom where the golden calf represented religion. The humility of God to take on human flesh and become the sin bearer was shared, along with His resurrection and response necessary from individuals in order to receive the gift of so great a salvation. The follow-up question time was truly a God-ordained event, as Eric clearly laid out the salvation message.
Posted July 27 2014
Russ Hodder and his team in the Los Angeles area are faithfully at the task of evangelism these days. Russ had the opportunity recently to speak at the first of two Junior camps near Green Valley Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains. Several local churches were involved, with 280 campers present. Russ presented the gospel presentations which included 14 blacklight paintings on the subject of “God’s Love for Us.” What a great blessing to see God work in the lives of 70 children who openly responded for first-time decisions to trust Christ. They were counseled with by staff and volunteers from their own churches.
Posted June 24 2014
Our Michigan Director, Brian Harmon, recently reported about a talk he had with a young doctor from Singapore named Kai. Brian asked Kai if he'd like a Bible, and he was instantly interested. Kai told Brian that one of his goals was to know who the true God was by the time he turned 30! After a 45-minute conversation, Kai seemed to struggle in seeing the difference between Allah and the God of the Bible. As Brian explained the true biblical attributes of God, Kai's eyes got real big. He actually put the words into Brian's mouth at one point and said, "...because without Jesus, if Allah forgives sins, there would still be sins unaccounted for." Brian shared some key verses in Kai's new Bible regarding this topic, and at the end of their conversation, his face was bright with understanding, as if he'd settled it. Kai asked if he could come to church, so please be praying for the salvation and discipleship of this young man.
Posted May 24 2014
OAC Los Angeles staff man, Frank Baldus, tells of a cold windy evening when he and his team were ministering the gospel in the open air on Redondo Beach pier. Their crowds were pretty thin due to the weather but one guy watched intently while holding up his cell phone by one hand in the air. Frank found out that this fellow was using his phone to record the gospel message and send it live to a friend on the other end of the line! Wow - live streaming of an open-air meeting, the wonders of modern technology. We never know how God is going to use the sharing of His Word. He has promised us that it will never return void and it's exciting to realize that as we are faithful to share the Lord, God Himself will cause this Good News to be spread further than we might realize as we present Christ by all means, everywhere.
Posted April 26 2014
Boston University can be a hard place to share Christ, but God had a nice crowd gather around Boston evangelist, Eric Briscoe. As he was about to finish his message, a man tried to interrupt him and Eric politely told him he would be through in a minute, so the man waited patiently. The man was a professor and some of his students had heard Eric preach so he invited Eric to come that very day into his "Introduction to religion" class. He offered Eric ten minutes of classroom time to speak about his faith. The classroom contained about 100 students who were very attentive and after ten minutes of sharing, Eric asked is there could be a question and answer time. God provided an open door and the students asked some very thought-provoking questions. A week later, the professor sent Eric an email which read, "...I thought your presentation was superb and extremely thought-provoking on its own, never mind that you had zero preparation time! I am a bit sorry that you were not able to stay in class for the further discussion of the ideas and issues you raised. I do not often offer courses of this nature, but whenever I do in the future, I would be delighted to have you speak."
Posted March 24 2014
God is using Mark and Angela Kennedy to open up our OAC Spokane Branch in a powerful way. At both the Spokane City Bus Transit Plaza and Union Gospel Mission, Mark is able to minister to a wide variety of folks, including those who are atheists, homeless, business executives and even believers. God brought a man named David to the Union Gospel Mission when Mark was there preaching. David's testimony in his own words was, "I didn't want to stay for this, but now I hear this message." David stayed after the message and Mark taught through Psalm 51 with him. Afterward, David poured out his heart to God, asking forgiveness and even listed his sins one by one! Mark said it was sweet to hear this man express such a prayer of godly repentance and trust, certainly not a "form prayer" of any kind. David is now in a Bible study and discipleship program.
Posted January 16 2014
Our June Sketchboard Evangelism Training (SET) sessions in Boston and Baltimore/DC will soon be here (see our www.oacusa.org website for details). We received the following encouraging note from one of our former participants. "I just wanted to encourage you that your investment in our lives is being multiplied. OAC taught us how "to fish" and now we've had an opportunity to pass along the blessing. We held a paint board evangelism training session for five people who wanted to learn this gospel-sharing technique. These folks worship at five different churches on the west side of Cleveland but know each other from attending the same Bible school. We appreciate the excellent training we received from you all...these folks now have another tool in their evangelistic toolboxes to use...the Spirit of God continues to s-t-r-e-t-c-h us because of what you have imparted to us."
Posted December 23 2013
Our Los Angeles Director, Russ Hodder, tells of a evangelistic sketchboard presentation he conducted at a local AWANA Club program. At the end of his talk, seven children of different ages responded in faith. Russ noticed that as he gave the invitation prayer, one of the little ones got on his knees. At the conclusion of the evening, the leader of the AWANA program asked for one of the kids to pray. This same child raised his hand, and the leader, with hesitation, let him do it, not expecting much out of one so young. This child launched out on a very profound prayer which started off with, "Oh Lord, let us take Jesus home with us tonight...." He then brought up the major points of the blacklight presentation Russ conducted and prayed, "Lord, help us be real in our faith in you and not fakes." He went on and when he had closed, we felt that God had showed His presence in the life of this first-grader!
Posted November 23 2013
Our Baltimore/DC Branch Director, Tom Fox tells of meeting two men named Greg and John. He met them while ministering in the Ocean City area. Tom tells us that he can't count the number of times that he has been there or the number of stories that he has about lives being changed as a result of ministry in that place. Greg and John both grew up in Catholic school and have since rebelled against all forms of Christianity. When Greg joked that he could die tonight and he'd have no clue what would happen to him, John said that thought truly scared him. After that, they were both extremely receptive to the gospel presentation and seemed to be truly impacted by that particular conversation with them. Please pray that God would continue to work in their lives.
Posted October 25 2013
Aaron Wentz from our OAC Michigan branch shared the following: Michigan State University (MSU) is one of the largest universities in America, pulling students from the around the country, and around the world, especially Chinese students. Just from being out on campus with our sketchboard, I have had one Chinese student listen intently and afterwards say he wanted a Bible. Another Chinese student who is only 17 years old, has met with me twice to know more about God. And a Chinese woman who has a son is here to study, and has met with me twice. After giving her her first English/Chinese Bible, she emailed me writing: "These days I am beginning to read the Bible you give me. I started from the New Testament. There are some amazing stories about Jesus. He cured all the illnesses and helped the sick. How great he is! I am quite interested in this book. Thanks again for bringing the book to me. I can always find great wisdom in it. It also helps me to think more about my life and the world. You must be sent to me by Jesus. Thanks so much!"
Posted August 26 2013
Our OAC Evangelist-at-Large, Paul Adams, has noticed that college students these days have become much more hardened to the Gospel. With our government's endorsement of homosexuality, there is a raised hostility towards Christians. It does not matter what subject we preach on; the students always seem to find a way to bring up homosexuality. As a result, we have been receiving increased verbal assaults and are called "intolerant," bigots," "Neanderthals," and more. It's interesting to note this bent toward intolerance from those who pride themselves on being "tolerant!" Just last week, a young lady threw a full cup of lemonade on Paul while he was sharing the Gospel. Still, the Gospel must boldly, yet lovingly, continue to be proclaimed. Thank you for partnering with us as we attempt to be faithful in the open air.
Posted July 14 2013
It is a blessing to have godly members on the OAC Board of Directors team which help guide our work. One of these members, Joe Toy, lives in the Philadelphia area and works regularly with our OAC staff Bob Ewerth and David Braun out in the open air. I was reading over one of Joe's ministry reports from early this year and found this account which he wrote: "On those really cold days, it would be easy [for me] to stay home, but I ponder, "Would you sit out at a football game in this weather?" So off I go, headed to Frankford to proclaim Christ. On this particular day, I was able to share Jesus with three men struggling with drug addictions. I was able to bless one of these men with lunch as he had not eaten in a few days. He was overjoyed and hung out with me for an hour. As I packed up to leave, a man walked by us and said, "Many of us like you being here. Don't stop coming.""
Posted June 14 2013
One of our newest staff members in Michigan, Brian Harmon, often has open doors into the public school system. Each individual school is different and Brian shared with us recently about one particular location where very few believers are represented in his after-school Bible class. This location is truly a "goldmine" and "battlefield" at the same time. A student named Hunter in his senior year of high school at this place told Brian that he is really enjoying the Bible Club. He said, "I don't believe like you do or agree with anything you are saying, but I like your method of communication." He went on to say, "You may not know what this is, but I am an agnostic." Later on, Hunter let Brian know that he is a foster child. Brian is seeing Hunter beginning to open up and "soften around of the edges" a bit, so please pray for this young man as Brian continues to minister in his school and surrounding area.
Posted May 16 2013
This past month we had the privilege of training and taking with us a group of young people from Liberty University in Virginia to Miami for spring break outreach. One venue of ministry took place on the sidewalks of Lincoln Mall for several evenings. Every night God gave opportunity to share the Gospel with people from all over the world. Our open-air team interacted with people from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Spain, France, Israel and Canada during the week. On the last night, God opened the door for us to interact with some street kids. One of our staff was sharing the Gospel with a girl and afterwards we were able to give her a Bible. She left the meeting location but then soon her friends came looking for her. In a few minutes, our team was engaged in conversations with all of these kids who returned!
Posted April 25 2013
Boston evangelist Eric Briscoe tells us that the subway continues to be a wonderful place to preach the gospel. A forty-year-old woman, named Necko, rejoiced to hear us preaching and told Eric she was attending a Catholic church. Before that, she had attended a Baptist church, then a Pentecostal church. He asked her if she was confident of going to heaven. She hesitated then said she was not sure. Eric said to Necko “If you get what you deserve where would you go?” Her smile disappeared and she said she would go to hell. After he explained the gospel again, she asked to pray for her that she would be saved. Eric told her to pray and let God know what was on her heart. She took a tract with the OAC Boston phone number and got on the train. Two hours later, Aaron, our Boston OAC Director, received a call from Necko saying she had gotten saved in the subway that afternoon!
Posted March 19 2013
An important part of our ministry is making affordable open air supplies available to others who also have a burden to share the gospel. Last year we were pleased to ship out object lessons, books, manuals, paints and sketchboard equipment to well over 300 individuals here in the States and around the world! It's always a thrill to hear from these folks letting us know how God has used the supplies. A recent note related the following: "Thank you for so quickly filling my order. I used one of the stories Thursday night at a retirement home. They were intrigued with the original outline, were very attentive as the story advanced on the board and were surprised at the end. Thank you also for the extra book. These mature people are looking forward to another service."
Posted March 5 2013
When our Field Director, Eric Briscoe visited Tom Fox and his Baltimore-Washington Branch team recently, they were able to train some young people in a local church for some inner-city ministry. Tom trained on sketchboard skills while Eric demonstrated and trained the students how to do the three ropes illustration. One particular youth, Abby, learned the rope lesson and took the ropes to school to practice, showing her classmates. Tom was recently informed that Abby's geometry teacher asked Abby to demonstrate the rope trick, gospel and all, in the Bowie public high school! It's wonderful to see how God opens doors and allows us to minister in places where He wants a witness of Him to take place.
Posted January 2013
In ever increasing numbers, folks from other countries are coming to our doorstep. Sharing the gospel with these folks out in the open air in their homeland would be dangerous and even illegal in many cases. But here in the USA, God gives us an open door of opportunity and our staff step through these open doors on a daily basis. One week, our Boston branch of OAC kept track of all the countries represented as they shared Christ with individuals. Over the course of this one week, they reached people from Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, England, France, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Russia, Spain, Turkey, USA and Vietnam.
Posted December 2012
Our OAC staff man in New Hampshire, Mark Sohmer, reports that at a local "block party" which his local church sponsored, a man named Sal came and heard the gospel. Sal was able to hear the presentation several times as it was preached throughout the event. Then Sal came to church the very next day where he heard the message of salvation again. After church, Mark's pastor talked with Sal for quite some time and indicated that this man appeared to have made a sincere decision to trust Christ. The very next morning, less than 24 hours after receiving Christ, Sal died unexpectedly of an aneurism! There is great rejoicing in heaven because of the work God did in Sal's life. That is why we go out to where people are an d share with them this wonderful message.
Posted November 2012
On the campus of Michigan State University, after the preaching, OAC staff man Brian Harmon reports that his friend turned to the person next to him and asked what he thought about the message. The student replied, “I need a relationship with Jesus Christ.” This student (York) was from China and has been here four months. Please pray for York, as well as, Noah (an atheist turned “seeker”), Dean (sensitive to the things of God), Andrew, and many others who hear the Word of God in these campus meetings.
It has been said that “A man’s mind, stretched with a new idea, can never go back to its original dimensions.” As we minister in the open air, we certainly can’t initiate faith but we can depend upon God to help us provoke thought, proclaim truth and trust Him for the fruit. As John 6:63 teaches us, it is the Spirit who gives life, and it comes through God's Word.
Posted October 2012
This summer, OAC staff Paul and Carmiña Adams took eight wonderful teens on a six-week youth missions trip which included outreach in San Francisco. God protected them and gave many great outreach opportunities. After one particular sketchboard presentation, a man named Saivon said that he had never heard that message before! Convicted in his heart, he expressed faith in Christ. The teens on this trip went forth each day putting on the full armor of God and proclaimed the life-changing message of the gospel seeing God work in mighty ways. People from local churches in other parts of California were trained in effective open air methods. Even though the reality of spiritual darkness and hostility to the things of God were evident, the team persevered and experienced the victory only God can give.
READ MORE FRONT LINE STORIES