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No Chance Encounter: The Cell Phone Evangelist

Can you imagine giving 3,000 Bible studies a day using a simple cell phone and a social media platform called WhatsApp?

Let me tell you an amazing story that happened near Victoria Falls in southern Africa.

There is a Christian song that is sung in South Africa that repeats the words “Why, Why, Why…” over and over. That is what I was saying to my wife, Kathy, as we bounced over an unbelievably rough road for almost an hour on our way to our hotel outside of Livingstone, Zambia. Why had we chosen lodging we knew nothing about?

Well, 36 hours later, we would discover the answer and know that God had orchestrated it all!

After completing our planning with the Zambian Union leaders and the Lusaka pastors for the AWR360˚ meetings in June 2018, we were excited. The pastors had just pledged to have an unprecedented 1,000 evangelistic meetings in the capital city of Lusaka – all at the same time! The preparation would be done through AWR evangelistic broadcasts.

We returned to our hotel and tried to make a reservation for our next stop, Livingstone, where we would plan additional evangelistic meetings. We tried every available hotel, but found them fully booked.

Why had we chosen lodging we knew nothing about?

Finally, after much searching, we found a lodge with some vacancies. The website said it was located “a short distance” outside Livingstone, and we were so relieved to find a room that we immediately made a reservation.

After arriving at the airport, we started the drive to the lodge; the road was fine until we turned off the tarmac onto an extremely rough road. We bounced and bounced, and wondered if we’d ever arrive. To make matters worse, it was dark, which made it seem like an even longer journey.

After what felt like forever, we did arrive. To our relief, we were met by a very kind hotel manager and a few of the staff. The manager, Antoinette, made us feel right at home in this out-of-the-way place.

The next morning, we found a beautiful view: the fast-flowing Zambezi River just below Victoria Falls. After breakfast, Antoinette and her husband gave us a ride back into town. It was almost an hour driving over this rough road again, but it didn’t seem quite as daunting in the daylight, and we enjoyed a lovely conversation.

We had a busy day in Livingstone with pastors and leaders as we made evangelism plans for next year and, thankfully, accomplished everything that day. Then we headed back for the third time over the rough road!

The next morning, just before checking out, Kathy thanked Antoinette for her hospitality. She was surprised when Antoinette asked if we’d had a good meeting with the pastors and church leaders. Antoinette explained that her uncle is a Seventh-day Adventist and that every Sabbath he sends an email with spiritual content to family and friends.

Antoinette began studying things she had never heard before.

Antoinette read her uncle’s messages and began to ask him questions. He referred her to Neville Neveling, a man in Namibia who had just begun a series of evangelistic meetings on his iPhone using WhatsApp. Antoinette began studying things she had never heard before. The more she studied, the more she realized that what she had been taught was wrong and not what the Bible teaches. She said to her husband, “Did you know we were taught wrong? Saturday is the Sabbath, and not Sunday.” To her surprise, his response was, “I know.”

As Antoinette was telling us her story, Pastor Anthony arrived to take us across the border to the town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. We introduced him to Antoinette, who insisted we must return. Pastor Anthony suggested we hold meetings in the nearby village in 2018, and Antoinette was delighted with the idea. We parted with promises to meet again.

Now, back to Neville Neveling in Namibia. I wanted more details about the iPhone evangelism he was doing. Antoinette had given me his phone number, so I called him, and like Paul Harvey used to say, here is the rest of the story.

Neville had been working at fine-tuning his ministry for four years. He has a background in radio broadcasting and TV, as well as computer technology, and was able to set up a virtual church for Afrikaans-speaking people of Dutch descent. That’s how he was reaching many Dutch farmers in the area and in South Africa. He was using his cell phone and WhatsApp, because the farmers are so spread out.

Neville was able to set up a virtual church for Afrikaans-speaking people of Dutch descent.

He then decided they should have a campmeeting, so he invited Jonathan Zirkle, an attorney from southern California, who gladly accepted the invitation to be the speaker.

I know Jonathan personally, and this past February I had asked him to help coordinate our evangelistic meetings in Georgia, eastern Europe. He accepted the challenge. As preparations for the meetings were underway, Jonathan was needing speakers for the 17-night evangelistic series. He thought of Neville, who had invited him to speak in Namibia a few months earlier.

Neville agreed to go to Georgia and preach the Revelation of Hope series. He became so excited about the series that he decided to use it for evangelistic meetings using his cell phone, which is what Antoinette had been listening to and studying.

Isn’t God amazing? He put all these pieces together and brought us full circle – from broadcast to baptism.

Neville completed his first evangelistic cell phone series using WhatsApp this past March, and God gave him an astounding 150 decisions for baptism – all from his cell phone witnessing! (By the way, WhatsApp is the second-largest social media platform in the world next to Facebook, and interestingly enough, Facebook bought WhatsApp earlier this year.) What a God-given opportunity and tool for sharing the three angels’ messages!

AWR is now teaming up with Neville so even greater things can be accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit. Each day, we pray that God will use us, and we never know who we will encounter through God’s leading.

Meeting Antoinette was God-ordained so we could learn “the rest of the story” and encourage others by sharing what God is doing around the world through AWR360°.

Please pray for AWR360˚ as we move forward in an even greater way with shortwave, FM, AM, podcasts, and all social media platforms, enabling us to reach into even more difficult and challenging areas of the world so God’s work will be finished and Jesus will come!

by Duane McKey, AWR President

To subscribe to these studies via WhatsApp, sign up with Neville (in Afrikaans) or Gideon (in English)

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Mother and child listening to radio in front of simple home.

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