God Encounters on City Streets


n Scotland, 93 percent of the population does not attend church. People generally do not believe in God, the Bible, heaven, or hell. Over the last 30 years, over 550 Church of Scotland buildings have been closed, auctioned, or sold.

After arriving here in 2002, I soon realized my missions degree and Bible-school training were not enough to make an impact. As a Spirit-filled minister, what was I to do? Could the power of Pentecost make a difference in Scotland?

    Jesus, Nice to Meet You!

Bob had shoulder-length, curly, bluish hair. After my wife, Joanie, prayed for him on the streets of Glasgow, he demanded that she meet all of his friends. So Joanie and an elder from our church were brought into a circle of 25 Goth kids. Bob said to his first friend, “Ian, I want you to meet Jesus.”

One by one, the kids said, “Hi, Jesus, nice to meet you!”

Isn’t that what it means to be Pentecostal—to be Jesus to everyone we meet?

There is an aroma, a beauty, and a power in the presence of God that bypasses the mind. Our ministry is called “God Encounter,” and our church, “Encounter Church Edinburgh.” You get the idea. Pentecost has enabled us to be filled and to flow with the Holy Spirit. We have seen time and time again His power change lives.

Following a short prayer, Greg, a 27-year-old heroin addict, asked if I was a witch. A witch! Greg said, “There’s a burnin’ in my chest—what have ya done? Make it go away!”

“Greg, that’s Jesus,” I said. “He is a consuming fire. He is alive!”

Paul wept for five minutes, not knowing what was happening as the power of God came upon him. We led this man, broken by sin, into eternal life!

Bobbi, another Goth girl who comes to our weekly Saturday outreach in Edinburgh, finally realized God was real. She said, “I can see Him in your eyes. I hear Him through your voice and smile.” She too came to the Savior.

A university student said to us, “I can tell you have had an encounter with God. . . . I would give anything to have one.” Following the amazed look of discovering the name of our ministry, we asked her, “Would you like a God encounter right now?” Smiling tentatively, she said, “Yes,” and, standing on the street, met Jesus!

    ‘Open Your Mouth and the Presence of God Will Fill This Place!’

I spoke those words to my wife as her fingernails gripped my hand following this announcement: “Our American friends are here, and Joanie is a singer. We want her to sing us a song!” Joanie sang “He Looked Beyond My Fault” to the tune of “Danny Boy.” This small pub where over 75 people had gathered to dance, drink, and forget about their sorrows was soon filled with the presence of God! They clapped and shouted, “Sing us another, sing us another!”

Immediately after her second anointed song, several men lined up behind the small two-seat table where we were sitting and asked me to pray for them. I glanced over to Joanie’s side, where women in tears were confiding in her, asking for prayer.

One gentleman, eyes wet with tears, said to me, “Please forgive me, Son. I used to be a godly man, but the drink has gotten the best of me. Please pray for me.”

    God’s Answer in Us

God invades people’s lives in supermarkets, restaurants, homes, streets, trains, subways, taxicabs, libraries, and coffee shops. When 93 percent of a nation’s population does not go to church, we must reach them wherever we can.

Jesus Christ has sent the blessed Holy Spirit to earth to fill us, His followers, so we can bring the nations to Him. Yes, Jesus is the answer, but He has put that answer in you and me! We are “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19 NKJV)—the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. We are the carriers of His presence . . . let us also be the releasers of His presence!

    The Tron

Every Saturday we perform in song, dance, drama, and preaching in the heart of Edinburgh at the Tron—a church built in 1641 where the Wesley brothers, D. L. Moody, and other greats once preached. At one time, over 10,000 people would gather for prayer at this spot. Today it is empty and being used on and off as a bar.

Pray for us as we try to buy this building for more “God encounters” in the capital.