Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city.” Acts 8: 5-8 (KJV)
Ryan Dotson has read the book of Acts. Until recently, he had never fully experienced what was recorded in the one of the books of the Bible during a recent crusade.
Dotson, pastor of Lighthouse Church of God, and pastor Tom Hall of the Church of the Living God, were among a group of nine individuals who took part in the crusade during a five-day period earlier this month in Wayu, Ethiopia. Dotson and Hall were making a return visit to the international ministry scene. The crusade was part of Joshua Campaign International and both ministers have basked in the glow of the crusade since returning to Winchester.
“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever been a part of,” Dotson said. “The magnitude of miracles, healing, the crowds was a whole new level of ministry that I had only hoped to see one day. Thousands of people were saved during the crusade and the street ministry. We had teams who would go to various regions in the morning, while Pastor Tom and myself would hold a ministers conference. These people were so hungry for God, they were bringing family members on beds and laying them down by the platform and they were there the whole week long. While we were on the platform praying, people were coming and just laying their heads down wanting you to pray for them.”
Hall said the crusade ministry and its goals resembled his everyday tasks as a pastor.
“In some ways, it’s similar to everyday ministry,” Hall said. “It’s the same gospel, the same Christ and the same faith. When a crowd assembles like that, it builds one another’s faith. They begin to feed off one another’s faith. To see blind people healed, deaf people healed and lame people walk, cancers and tumors that disappeared, growths that were no longer there and pain that was removed, it’s kind of like what I pictured (happened) in the days of Christ. The Bible says when Jesus would walk through the crowd, people would throng him. I never knew what that was until you get into a crowd like that. Every step you would take, people were right there reaching for you and they were reaching for higher than us, Jesus, and a move of God.”
Dotson said the crusade was “like walking through the book of Acts.”
“It was Acts coming alive,” he said.
Hall agreed with Dotson, adding that the experience was similar to a passage in Acts 5: 5-8.
“That’s exactly what happened in Wayu,” he said. “We preached Christ, the people saw the miracles and the people believed and they told by the thousands.”
Hall and Dotson witnessed one man who was healed of blindness in one of the crusade services.
“A 70-year-old man was blind in both eyes and had been blind for 20 years and was in a village outside (of Wayu) and his testimony was that a man appeared to him (in a dream) in a long white robe and spoke to him in his language and told him to go to Wayu and your sight will be restored,” Hall said. “He told his family and they didn’t believe him and thought he had a bad dream. Two ladies came with him to Wayu. They walked all day long for one day until it was dark and slept under a tree. The got up the next day and walked to get to the crusade. He was completely healed after 20 years of blindness. A blind man saw Jesus the first time and then Jesus told him of this crusade. Heaven knew of this crusade and heaven participated in this crusade.”
Dotson said the trip to the crusade presented him with an opportunity to witness.
“On our way to Ethiopia from Germany, I was sharing some candy and snacks with the German stewardess, who never gets to experience many American goodies,” he said. “While I opened my duffle bag to share with them, a tall slim guy approached and out of curiosity asked what I was doing and I explained we were on our way to Ethiopia for a crusade and I proceeded to tell him I was a pastor. He disclosed he was a U.S. Navy SEAL working in Djibouti to help the rebels overthrow the corrupt government there.
“He told me that he was on medical furlough because as he and a close friend were in the field, his friend tripped over a land mine and it blew up. (It) killed his friend and that the bone fragments from his friend had shrapnel into his body. He grabbed my arm and started sobbing like a child and asked me to pray with and for him. I felt the spirit of God and I had him sit with me in the back row of the plane that I had all to myself. And right there, I led him to the Lord and prayed a hedge of protection about him. I knew at that point our crusade was a Godsend because souls were being saved at very beginning of our journey. To God be the glory.”
Hall and Dotson are part of independent denominations, but share similar beliefs and a common bond when it comes to ministry goals.
“We work together and we’ve done a lot of things together,” Dotson said. “You don’t find that in all communities where two pastors work together and have such a great bond. This door had opened up for him and he gave the invitation to me. It was a blessing to me to have the invitation from pastor Tom to be a part of (the crusade).”
“We’re not but maybe a mile or two apart from town and we work together,” Hall added. “We have a similar vision for the community.”
Dotson and Hall hopes the experience carries over to the local level.
“All they’ve got is God,” Dotson said. “It gave me a bigger expectation of what to believe God for. It’s elevated (my ministry) and I can tell a spiritual difference in myself. There is a desire in me to live closer to God so I can see more of these things in people’s lives. Just to see pain (they experienced) and the rejoicing and celebrating, they were happy.”
Contact Keith Taylor at email@example.com.