August has been evangelism season for Stephen Bennett Ministries:
- In 2003, he took a group to Provincetown and met with resistance from gays, some of whom were former ex-gays.
- 2004, the year Stephen named gay relationships a putrid stench in [God’s] nostrils, brought scaled-up goals — a $50K campaign to bring hundreds into P-Town, later scaled back to a $25K goal. That campaign coincided with Family Week, so the ministry brought bible gift bags for the kids. They were met by peaceable gay Christians and thoughtful gay parents, and kid-focused activities already in progress.
After taking a break in 2005, it’s time to rev the Bennett evangelism engine back up in 2006 to go to WorldPride in Jerusalem.
My first impression, on reading this, was Huh? A Christ-centric Jews-for-Jesus outreach… to Israel??? I had to re-skim it and grab hold of the concept of a WorldPride event, and that the Bennett ministry has portrayed itself as an International Ministry, without yet speaking of Stephen travelling beyond Canada, until now.
The ministry created a logo for its evangelism campaign (at right).
But, wait a minute, the ministry’s logo bears an eerie resemblance to the image from this WorldPride.net page, apart from replacing a rainbow puzzle-piece globe with a rainbow flag. And, swapping a photo of a rainbow flag and a crowd for an photo which includes rainbow-colored balloons.
Turns out, the balloons are found just a little lower on the same page.
Where does a good Christian evangelist go after
stealing adapting an adversary’s logo to promote his own campaign? Directly to fundraising, of course.
The ministry says it needs $35,000 and that $2,500 will pay one evangelist’s hotel, airfare and food. The 2004 fundraising appeal gave clues about the anticipated cost of leaflets, t-shirts and gift bags, unlike this one. If materials and overhead costs are $5K or so, they’re looking at evangelizing 300,000 people with a crew of 12.
Sure, Jesus’ disciples ultimately reached hundreds of millions.
Not in 6 days, though.
The Bennett ministry had apparently reached out to its core funders prior to announcing the evangelism campaign, because its first online publicity included a small scrolling box to thank donors. The scroll rate is slow enough for donors to catch their name, donation amount, and a thank-you message, yet fast enough to give the impression that a small avalanche of eager donors is pouring money into the ministry.
The truth? The list scrolls 17 donors and donations and/or pledges totalling $10.5K. Seven are under $50, six are at $100, one each are at $300, $1K, $2.5K, and $6K. No mention yet of AFA or CWA financial support as claimed in 2003.
I salute Stephen and his ministry for steering clear of the temptation to think that, if getting a few busloads of evangelists from New England to P-Town looked like a $50K (and later a $25K) project, that carrying a group to Israel would naturally be a $250K project.
But, if he and his funders want to be honest with themselves about where they’re at, what they wish to accomplish, in the context of what they have a reasonable chance of achieving via WorldPride (apart from shallow self-promotion), it’s time for them to examine the personal, moral, and spiritual depth that is likely to characterize folks attending WorldPride Jerusalem participants.