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Although the church has faced immense amounts of spiritual warfare, members of Living Hope Church plan to raise almost $1 million in just one month.
The Vancouver, Wash.-based 6,000-member megachurch needs $5 million to purchase the building they currently meet in. The church has already raised $4.2 million, and launched a campaign Monday to raise the rest. As part of the Forty First Day campaign, Senior Pastor John Bishop asked 1,000 churches to each give $1,000 so the church could meet its goal.
“We are doing what God calls us to do. I know it's a risk,” Bishop, author of Dangerous Church, told Charisma News. “I didn't want to ask a bunch of people to give. … But I feel that the stakes are so much bigger than just money here.”
At one point the church—started in 1996—met in several different campuses and had up to 19 services in one day. Deciding it would be better to go back to one building, they moved everything over to a former Mervyn's, a department store chain based in California. Although the building had been vacant four years, the church received a 30-day notice seven months later when a movie theater bought the building.
“We were virtually just devastated. And when you feel devastated, it's the gate or the door—if you'll go through it—for God to do a massive thing in your life.”
Too large to go back to their old facility, Living Hope moved into a vacant former Kmart in January “on a handshake and a verbal agreement.” They raised close to $1 million in 90 days with intent to buy the building. The church went into a purchase sale agreement with the owners in May and must have $5 million by Oct. 20.
After moving into the current location, the megachurch has made huge efforts to serve the homeless. With the nearest high school at a 70 percent poverty rate, they are in a primary area to do that. According to Bishop, the building is “in the center of the highest crime rate and highest homeless population in our city.” The church—which was previously very suburban and affluent—now feeds 200 children every Sunday.
If Living Hope does not raise the remaining money, not only will they not be able to serve the homeless as they do now, the church itself will be homeless.
“I'm believing God for $800,000 or we're homeless—truly homeless. … We have no Plan B. Anchor lines have been cut. We're just really waiting on God,” says Bishop.
Since the church with a heart for the homeless started meeting in this building and serving the community, Bishop says they have faced intense spiritual warfare.
“We have seen more spiritual warfare in nine months than we have in the first 14 years of our church,” he explains. “God has given me a heart to see homelessness eradicated in our city. When you have an audacious goal, an audacious faith, I guarantee Satan is going to go after you. It has been unbelievable what we have gone through. But we're not shrinking back.”
Bishop says members have been getting sick, leaders' parents have passed away and the church has experienced negativity and criticism. Living Hope is currently in the middle of a 40-day fasting and prayer time as a way to combat the spiritual warfare they have faced.
“We've really raised the level of praying, where I would say attacks have been greater than ever, but our prayer efforts have been greater than ever as well,” Bishop notes.
Living Hope has a rich history of stepping out in faith. After years of pastoring a “safe” church, Bishop decided to lead his church in a new direction when he realized it was not dangerous.
When he forgot his list of the 60 people that were supposed to be baptized one Sunday, he made a bold move and called people to be baptized from the crowd. Three hundred were baptized that day, and the church has had 6,500 baptisms in the last seven years.
“For the last seven years we have become very focused on one thing, and that's reaching people that are far from God. And everything we do is about that,” Bishop explains.