All About Eternal Life International and Our Crusade For Christ
Our vehicle had just arrived outside of a walled compound of Gujrat, Pakistan on a hot night in August 2005. A huge crowd was surrounding the entrance pressing their way to get in. I heard a tapping on my window and turned to look down the barrel of a rifle with a Muslim Soldier yelling at my driver to move the car away. I was told they were concerned about car bombs at this meeting. As we pulled away I began to experience a range of emotions, both excitement and apprehension. What I had longed for, hoped for, my entire Christian life was about to come to pass. I was about to preach to people who had never heard the Gospel before and may be the only opportunity in their lives to respond. The moment of truth was at hand. Would these Muslims receive the Gospel? How can we get these people to believe that Jesus died for their sins? Voices from the past of people telling me how hard it is for Muslims to receive Christ kept bombarding my mind. In India, I had seen many Hindu’s receive the Lord, but never any Muslims. As we drove to a safe house where we were to stay until it was secure for us to enter the compound and proceed to the platform, I reflected on how we had gotten to the Islamic Nation of Pakistan in our crusade for Christ.
I received Christ at 17 years of age in a multi-racial church called Marantha in Portland Oregon. I was fortunate to be raised in the Lord by Pastor Wendell Wallace who instilled in us the desire and the mandate to reach the lost for Christ. In those days, we joyfully spent our Friday nights worshipping God and our weekends telling others about Jesus. Our High School became our mission field and those who formerly knew us as “Hippies” and “Dopers” now called us “Jesus Freaks”. Funny how my mother and father, who did not know the Lord at that time, were never concerned when I was out all hours of the night, drinking, smoking, etc. But now that I was attending church 4 times a week, and sharing the Gospel with others, they cautioned me not to become a fanatic. After High School I attended college studying Civil Engineering. (I had heard that many nations would not allow Missionaries to enter their countries but if you had a skill that would benefit the country you could gain entrance. My plans to enter the mission field immediately after college were deferred when I met my soon to be wife Leslie Dodge. She also had a love for people and love for the lost. Our first dates were at prayer meetings, Christian coffee houses or witnessing on the streets.
We joined a church which eventually went into what was called the “Discipleship Movement”. Though many of the teachings were good, the emphasize was more on following your appointed overseer than obeying the voice of the Holy Spirit. Don’t get me wrong, God places the Ministry Gifts in our lives for our benefit, but they were never intended to replace the power and the leading of the Holy Spirit. As a result, church and worship seemed to dry up, very few people ever got saved and we became very legalistic in our approach to Christianity. It was a picture of what Paul described in Galatians Gal 3:1-5. “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain–if indeed it was in vain? 5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”
You see, when ever you replace the grace of God, leading of the Holy Spirit with any form of ritual, tradition or legalism, the power of God, the fruit of the Spirit will be absent from your life. After about 4 years in the “Discipleship Movement” I quit going to church. I reasoned that why should I go to church to be miserable when I was doing just fine being miserable on my own. Later people would say that Howard backslid and was away from God when he left the Church. It’s more accurate to say I backslid while sitting in the pew, because I had turned away from the grace of God and leading of the Spirit while still in the Church. It just is more noticeable on the outward when I left.
In 2004 I accompanied Alexander Daniel, a man who’s Father had pioneered hundreds of churches in India and he was now the president of that organization. We had been ministering in many of the churches and came to the city of Nilambur. It was predominantly a Muslim community but we held a leaders meeting in one of the churches there. We spoke on Sunday morning after the leadership training. In the middle of the service, a man suffered a heart attack. We publicly rebuked the Spirit of death and the man rose back up in his seat and was just fine. When asked if he wanted to go to the hospital, he proclaimed that God had healed him. I preached on the Woman with the Issue of Blood that Sunday morning. As we were praying for the sick after the message, my interpreter mentioned that the woman I was praying for was not a believer. I asked the woman if she knew Jesus, she said “no”. I asked her if she would like to receive Jesus and she said “yes”. I then led her in a prayer to receive Christ. Her daughter a beautiful young Hindu woman accompanied her. However, her daughter was born deaf and mute. We asked her mother what she wanted Jesus to do for her daughter. She said that she wanted her daughter to speak and to hear. At this point, Alexander stepped forward and put fingers in her ears and commanded in the Name of Jesus, “Be Opened”. He did this 3 times and on the third time the young lady exhibited a grand smile as she was hearing everything about her for the very first time in her life. Her Mother began to weep at the goodness of God and we told her God wants her daughter to speak as well. So when Alexander touched her tongue a river of syllables and sounds came forth from her mouth for the first time in her 23 year old life.
I was relating this story at Full Gospel Businessman’s Meeting in 2005 when a woman approached me afterward and said I must meet a Pastor in Pakistan. She had asked for my email which I gave without much thought so she could forward it to Pastor Anwar in Pakistan. It was a few months later that I received an email from a Pastor Anwar in Pakistan inviting me to come to his country and preach the Gospel. I responded telling him that I was not a full time Minister but simply a Believer who spent my vacations preaching the gospel in various countries. He wrote back and told me that his church had been praying daily that we come to Pakistan. I wrote back again and told him, we would consider coming if he could promise us that we would be able to preach to Muslims. (On occasion Ministers will hold a meeting in India or Pakistan to show what a great crowd they have preached to but the crowd is made up of mostly Christians. We wanted to reach those who had never heard the gospel one time.) Pastor Anwar responded to my email saying that he wanted to reach the lost with the Gospel and to please come. From that time Leslie and I began our planning and obtained our tickets. Prior to leaving it occurred to me that these meetings would cost money. I wrote the Pastor and asked what the cost of this trip would be and he wrote back and said about $12,000. This may not seem like much but when you have only $5,000 in the bank it’s allot. Man of Faith that I am, I called Leslie as I was out of town at the time I read his email and asked her to see if we could cancel our tickets and get a refund. She asked me the question, Did God call us to go or not. Well, ashamed I repented and said we will go. (It was after we had gone and returned from Pakistan that the Lord provided all the finances we needed to cover the three evangelistic crusades we had in Pakistan).
Now , back to our first meeting in Gujrat, Pakistan. Once the meeting was well underway inside the walled compound, Leslie and I were escorted under armed guard to the platform. To have meetings in Pakistan, you must be able to secure the area from suicide bombers or armed terrorists who would kill you and think they are doing God a favor. Everyone entering the compound was scanned and searched for explosives and weapons. As we arrived on the platform there was a great sea of people and every square foot of the compound was occupied. For those who could not enter the compound, a movie screen with speakers was set up in the street so those people could hear as well. I could not help but wonder why all of these Pakistani’s would press there way here to see this crazy American. Then I realized that they were so hungry for the “Truth” and the reality of God, they pressed there way in.
When it was time for me to begin preaching I stepped up and began with the simple, yet powerful, Gospel of Jesus Christ. All during my presentation people sat quietly listening to every word. I kept on thinking how my Indian Brothers warned me how difficult it was for a Muslim to receive Christ. I wondered what in the world am I doing here and at that moment wished I was anywhere other than where I was at. When I finished preaching to the 7000 that had filled the compound I gave the invitation for those who wanted to receive Christ. To my astonishment, of the 7000 persons in that compound, about 6,900 stood to boldly confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. When I had them repeat a Salvation Prayer, we prayed for healing. Just as promised, Jesus confirmed the message preached by healing all manner of sickness and disease among the crowd. Blind eyes were opened, deaf ears heard and many testified of the miracles Jesus had done for them.
The very next night in the City of Okara, we had the same result. An area in the city between the buildings had been secured. Muslim soldiers with automatic weapons were on every roof top. I don’t know what kind of trouble they were expecting, I do know that in the middle of my preaching a disturbance broke out in the crowd. My interpreter told me to not quit preaching so I told the crowd to pay no attention to the disturbance as God had a special message that he did not want them to miss. When the invitation to receive Christ was given, once again almost all of the 6000 attending stood to receive Christ. Afterwards we began to pray for healing. When we pray we use a public prayer and declare that the Jesus we are preaching is truly alive and will do miracles this evening to confirm the word we are preaching. As we prayed that evening we had many testify of instant miracles. One Muslim man received his sight. Many women with small Children testified that as we prayed, fevers had left there bodies. As one woman approached the microphone carrying a baby, I though perhaps that her baby had been healed of a fever as well. However, she told a different story. She testified that her baby had died that morning, it had quit breathing and its heart had stopped. She had heard that Jesus could heal and she kept that dead baby with her all that day. That evening (12 hours later) she brought her baby to the crusade. When she heard the “Gospel” being preached, her baby’s toes began to wiggle, and when prayer was made, her baby’s eyes became open. Then she came to the platform and testified as she held her baby up in front of the crowd and boldly told the Muslims and all people attending that Jesus had brought her baby back to life. I was as amazed as anyone in this miracle of God raising this baby from the dead. It was not a result of my faith, but simply the “Power” of the Gospel message. Since then, we have seen thousands of miracles as we have proclaimed this same Gospel message in many of the countries including the USA.
Since that first trip in Pakistan, we have held 12 crusades in Pakistan, 7 in Muslim Mindanao, and 4 in Costa Rica and held many seminars and leadership training leaders how to preach the Gospel with miracles, signs and wonders. Since 2005 we have seen over 100,000 people receive Christ and thousands of miracles. We have avoided the enemy’s attempts to keep us from spreading the gospel. A car bomb has gone off outside our Hotel room within feet of where we had walked just hours earlier. An attempt to highjack our vehicle by terrorists in Muslim Mindanao was thwarted saving us and the Pastors who accompanied us. In every case, we found that people had been praying for us at the exact time we were in danger. God has cleared the skies of rain so we could preach the Gospel during the rainy season in Mindanao. Just after we finished our crusades, the heavens broke forth with torrents of rain. We preached the Gospel in Pakistan when public meetings were forbidden during Marshall Law. However, God gave us special favor and during time of riots, terrorist assaults and political unrest and the Government allowed us to continue our Evangelistic Meetings. The smallest crowd we had was about 5,000 and the largest about 20,000. We have Preached to Muslims at a military training camp where they train the Mujahedeen (Muslim Holy Warriors). All the soldiers including the General received Christ and many are following Jesus to this day. When Jesus said that “All Authority in Heaven and Earth had been given to him, therefore go …” he meant it.
I work for the Power Company and am using my salary to pay for the expenses of these trips. We welcome the prayer and financial support of others. We never leave home without our Intercessors who commit to pray for us while in the field. This is a team approach and I know when Jesus is handing out the rewards that those who prayed and helped support financially will share equally in the rewards of the Harvest. We believe God for much greater harvest to come. If you would like to be a part of reaching those who never have heard the gospel one time, we welcome your support. It has been said “Why should people in the USA have many chances to hear the gospel when many people have never heard it once”? We are targeting those populations where the gospel has never been preached. If you would like to share in this ministry through prayer or financial support, our contact information is below:
Eternal Life International
c/o Leslie Ferris
Your prayers and tax deductible financial support is most welcome. If you would like us to minister at your church, please contact us.