By David Imler
Peter Youngren’s Gospel Campaigns is the story of how God’s favor opens doors in seemingly impossible situations. By showing friendship and respect towards people regardless of their religion, hearts are made ready for the message of God’s love.
The rain poured as we ran from the van to the offices of the moderate Muslim organization, Majelis Ulama Indonesia. We were on our way to meet the MUI Chairman and to share about an upcoming Gospel Festival.
My co-workers were skeptical about what our reception would be as we were ushered into the Imams’ office, and seated in a semi-circle. I quickly spoke up, “We have not come to lift one religion above another, or to convert people from one religion to another, but rather we talk about God’s love for all people revealed through Jesus Christ, without discrimination.”
I was representing Peter Youngren who has conducted Friendship Festivals in over 100 nations during the last 40 years. This would be his 23rd Festival in Indonesia. Youngren’s modus operandi is to show respect and humility toward all and to build bridges of friendship with leaders of other religions and political leaders.
Sensing the open door, I continued to describe other similar festivals in other Islamic countries, and then it was time for the most sensitive part of my presentation. I told the Muslim leaders that were gathered that Peter speaks passionately about the love of God for all people without discrimination, as revealed through Jesus. As Peter has described in his book, My Muslim Friends, I emphasized that Jesus is mentioned 90 times in the Koran, and that Christians, Muslims and Jews are known in the Koran as ‘People of the Book’.
“Now, when it comes to who Jesus is and the cross and resurrection of Jesus, we have different beliefs”, I continued, “and you can be sure that Peter Youngren will share his message respectfully toward people of all religions.”
By now the Imam was all ears, so I kept going. “The third part of each night of the Festival is very important and inclusive. Peter prays two prayers; one where the people are invited to receive the free gift of forgiveness and new life provided through Jesus, and the second prayer is for healing.”
I explained that Peter Youngren has never claimed to be a healer, but he attributes all power to Jesus Christ. The marvelous result, which I myself have witnessed many times, are seen among people of all backgrounds; whether Muslim, Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Christian people will report of wonders that have happened to them.
The Imam reflected on previous conflicts between Christians and Muslims in the region where he resides and responded, “The events of violence that took place in our city were terrible, we would never want them to happen again. Perhaps this Festival will help heal the hurts in the hearts of our people.” Later on he, together with leaders both religious and political, attended a Friendship Dinner with Peter Youngren.
I have seen this kind of scenario in city after city, country after country with leaders and people of all walks of life. It is a normal occurrence during a Peter Youngren friendship Festival that mayors, governors, prime ministers, presidents, and religious leaders come together, without any demand that either one of them will lay aside the convictions, but with a willingness to dialogue.
Peter Youngren says, “I will never compromise on the gospel of Jesus Christ, I preach it in its fullness. However, I can do all that and still be respectful, kind generous towards others who believe differently than what I do.“
In working with Peter Youngren, my own experience has been that when the Gospel is presented with this friendship approach, modeled after how Jesus and Paul, the apostle, worked, we see phenomenal results. In city after city, tens of thousands receive God’s gift of salvation.