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‘Know the Secret’

This year, Envoys Steve and Sharon Bussey are taking the Salvation Army’s Pier Ministry at Old Orchard Beach Camp Meetings to the next level.

The July 25–Aug. 1 Pier Ministry and many of its innovations will revolve around the theme “Know the Secret.”

“We see Old Orchard Beach not just as a place where we’re doing evangelism, but we see this as a context in which we can model creative open–air [meetings],” Steve says. “Not just in places like OOB, but anywhere.

“A lot of people think open–airs are something of the past, but they can have a dynamic impact upon people today. We want to show that, with creativity and with innovation, we can not only stop people in their tracks to listen, but we can find creative and new ways to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The Busseys, who lead The Salvation Factory (a think tank for creative ideas based at Territorial Headquarters) hope to employ what they call “judo evangelism”—the idea of using the strength of your opponent against him or her.

“Similarly we’re trying to take all that’s taking place down there that could keep people away from Christ and use that to actually capture their attention and gain their confidence so we can save their souls,” Steve said. “We want to play off the beach, the entertainment, and the carnival atmosphere.”

With an objective of proclaiming the Gospel “through the most attractive, creative, daring, and innovative methods possible,” Bussey said the 2014 Pier Ministry will still feature singers, illusions, dancers, actors, balloon sculptures, and face painting. Also:

• A rock band will play Top 40 hits, but replace the lyrics with evangelistic ones. Bussey said The Salvation Army employed such tactics in the 1880s. “Imagine what that looks like in 2014,” he said.

• Phil Laeger has written an exciting 15–minute mini–musical that will tell the story of the Prodigal Son and incorporate the Summer Brass Band, a D.J., the rock band, a percussion group, dancers, and CAST.

• A 30–foot mobile stage and 20–foot LCD screen will broadcast nightly at the Pier. “We plan to do a mind-blowing light show every night with the Phil Laeger piece that stops people in their midst,” Bussey said. “Our prayer is that by the third night they would be celebrating Jesus as the Savior.”

• People will use mobile phones to scan Quick Response Codes (QR) and go to (Launching July 25, 2014)

Steve said Salvationists would take photos of vacationers, who will be directed to a prayer tent to pick up the free pictures. The photo frames will feature the question, “Where is Jesus in the picture of your life?” Counselors will be on hand to talk about Christ.

“We’re going to play off the carnival atmosphere,” said Bussey.

While face painting and balloon animals will still be a part of the event, children can also engage in a treasure hunt, where they can find the “Secret.”

Bussey said he also hopes to train a team of one–on–one evangelists, who will engage people as they enter the island leading to the Pier.

“Street performers will draw people in, where it gets more intense as they get closer to the stage,” Steve said.

Steve said Hands On and LEAD delegates will be helping. Bussey is also looking for volunteers to distribute evangelistic giveways with the “Know the Secret” logo.

“We’d like those people who come to hang out to actually play a role in helping,” he said.

Steve said a delegation of French Canadian Salvationists would be on hand to reach out to French speakers.

“Our prayer is that the entire Pier area will become an incubator of the Gospel, accelerating their [spiritual learning] process,” Bussey said. “We want to show them there is nothing more exciting, and nothing more fulfilling, than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Each night will end with a light show in front of the stage with the live band. Some people in the crowd will wear motion–generated lights, and the Pier Ministry will give away 500 glow sticks.

“Everything will be geared toward searching for meaning and for purpose in life and in knowing ultimately that Jesus is the true ‘Secret,’” Bussey said.

by Robert Mitchell

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