After One Week
The odds were stacked against us. Here's what many believed would happen:
1. Opening night attendance would be low because of the sudden change of venue.
2. And it would be low because the meetings are being held in a church.
3. On Monday night, attendance would drastically drop because it's a weeknight.
4. And it would be low because it has been raining.
5. People would not respond to Shawn's card call on Tuesday.
6. By Wednesday night, only loyal church members would be present.
Well, let me tell you that on every one of those points, the naysayers have been dead wrong. Here are the irrefutable eyewitness facts:
1. Opening night attendance was beyond imagination. Standing room only. Main floor, upstairs, and downstairs (closed circuit video) were all packed. Woo hoo!
2. The fact that the meetings were being held in an Adventist church did not faze people one bit. We have in attendance people of all backgrounds: agnostics, atheists, evangelicals, Catholics, Pentecostals, Muslims, etc. They're here seeking answers for life.
3. Five minutes before the meeting was set to open on Monday night, we were a little concerned because there were a lot of empty seats. But by 8:30 when Shawn started his message, the church was packed again.
4. I live 20 minutes from the church. With the rain and the heavy traffic, it took me an hour to get to the church. I was drenched. However, the heavy rain did not discourage people from coming. They were late but they were there. In the lobby we had a mountain of colorful umbrellas.
5. We had a card call on Tuesday night. It was a card call simply inviting people to accept Jesus as their Savior. Usually, this first card call is expected to be lower in response because people are just not sure. Not in Rome. The ushers were delayed getting the cards back because people were feverishly responding to the questions. What a sight! And when we sorted through them, we discovered we had a huge stack of cards. Well beyond expectation. People are truly responding favorably. Hey, they've never heard a message like this before!
6. On Wednesday night, the middle of the week, the hall was still packed. No kidding. Our guests are still coming strong. I'm not going to tell you that our attendance is as high as opening night on weeknights, but the drop-off is mostly with our own members. Go figure.
The odds were against us but thanks to God's amazing power and grace, the odds have been turned around and in my opinion the odds are actually in our favor. As Paul said it so well: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Your intercessory prayers have a lot to do with it. Don't stop!
It doesn't mean we have no challenges. Oh we do. For example, on Sunday someone sliced the tires of two cars in the parking lot. One of them was the car of one of our faithful ushers. He and his family drive a long way from outside Rome every night to assist and help. He is presently unemployed. Just what this family didn't need: An additional unexpected expense like this. They had two buy two new tires the next day. It breaks my heart. However, they never lost their smiles and I never heard a word of complaint. He stands every night at his post without fail like nothing ever happened. Praise God! Guys like this inspire me.
Again, thank you for your prayers. They are working. On Saturday night starts another set of five meetings in a row.
-Pastor Yves Monnier
P.S. As I'm writing this, it's snowing in Rome. Yes, it's snowing in Rome. Wow! You see, anything can happen in Rome.