• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Evangelist Targets Asian Buddhists post-Katrina

As Franklin Graham plans “spiritual rebirth” in New Orleans, Charisma reports on the progress of one evangelist in the afflicted Gulf of Mexico (link added):

Evangelist Johnny Jernigan has been neck-deep in storm recovery since Hurricane Katrina smashed the Gulf Coast more than a month ago. But besides delivering food to needy families and helping evacuees reclaim their damaged homes, he has been leading hundreds of people to Christ—people who weren’t open to the gospel before the disaster.

…Shortly after the storm hit, Jernigan took his portable ministry tent to Bayou La Batre, Alabama, a shrimping community with a heavily Cambodian and Vietnamese population. One night, 37 people—including many Buddhists—made professions of faith in Christ during the makeshift worship service.

“I see an open door to reach these communities right now like never before,” Jernigan says. “By serving them, we earn the right to preach to them a message of hope in the pain they face.”

The response of local Asians (who make up 33% of Bayou La Batre) to the hurricane has been reported in the Mobile Register; according to the San Francisco Chronicle, no-one from the town was killed or injured, thanks to forward planning. However:

The most disquieting question for residents is whether the maritime economy can recover. Dozens of shrimp boats were scooped out of their moorings and hurled onto shore, and the entire support infrastructure — dry docks, workshops, marinas, offices — suffered severe damage. No one even wants to estimate the cost of repair.

Johnny Jernigan Ministries is a partner of PRC Compassion, which is co-ordinating the relief efforts of conservative churches in Louisiana (although Jernigan and Bayou La Batre are in Alabama). As I blogged just recently, PRC is a division of the Pastors Resource Council, which was set up by the Louisiana Family Forum to engage in “culture war” on behalf of “family values”; the group has close ties to the Family Research Council‘s Tony Perkins.

Jernigan, who is a minister with the Assemblies of God, specialises in youth evangelism and door-to-door evangelism, a technique he calls the “100-Man Challenge“:

John Wesley said, “Give me 100 men who want nothing but God and hate nothing but sin and I will bring God back in my generation.”  Week after week, I have witnessed Christians accepting the challenge to do something rarely done at the local level, to move out of the sheep field and onto the battlefield.  With as few as 125-200 people, we have knocked on the doors of as many as 10,000 homes in one day, cleaned parking lots, washed cars, hosted children’s carnival, done park outreaches and parking lot ministry, all in a SERVANT evangelism approach.

The communities stand in awe as they witness churches willing to serve while asking nothing in return. The results of this effort are staggering. Visitors are pouring into the churches after these intensive weekends.

(Jernigan evidently works his troops harder than he used to. An older cached version of the same spiel is slightly different: “With 125-200 teens, we have knocked on the doors of as many as 4,000 homes in one week”). According to his bio, Jernigan has also undertaken crusades in “Central America, Africa and Russia”.