Jersey Shore churches find unity in bringing area back to Jesus

JERSEY SHORE — A pastor from Uganda and over 30 churches in the Jersey Shore area have come together in a combined crusade for a five night mission event to help bring the area back to God.

The event, Jersey Shore for Jesus, will be held from July 9 to 13 at the Jersey Shore Football Stadium. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.

“There’s been some wonderful reconciliation within the churches with unity and coming together,” said Charlie Winkelman, president of Jersey Shore ministerium. “There have been church splits in the past, and the various churches that have split are coming together for this. That’s exciting.”

He said a side effect of having a crusade is bringing unity across the churches of all Christian denominations in the name of Jesus.

“There’s a lot of secondary issues. There’s speaking in tongues, when do you get baptized, pacifism and all these kinds of issues that separate us denominationally … but we all share in common that relationship with Jesus Christ as lord and savior,” he said. “That’s what we’re focusing on.”

He said he hopes to see the event bring people back to Jesus. If anyone in the Jersey Shore area may be interested in renewing their relationship with God but perhaps felt uncertain which church might be a good one to try, the event will also work for a great opportunity to meet connections across many churches.

Pastor Richard Nyakaana, international evangelist who has spoken throughout Uganda and the United States for over 20 years, will be the event speaker.

Nyakaana said that he is often surprised by the lack of connection many Americans have with Jesus and the church.

“I don’t know what excuse Americans will give God,” Nyakaana said. “Everything is available for them. They have enough Christian books. They have Wi-Fi. They can listen to preachers on computers. They can watch television stations which have preachers … It surprises me.”

He said people in Africa walk miles to go to churches that have no roofs, and congregations that meet under trees and share Bibles. He was fascinated that there are Bibles that sit inside churches all week long, unused until Sundays when there are people in Africa who would read them at any opportunity. It was the American’s distance from God that made him become a minister in America.

“All human beings have a desire to know God, and I think we are all created in God’s image,” Nyakaana said. “All the blood in human beings is the same. It’s all red.”

He said that the questions people ask in America about faith are similar to any other place.

“It’s the same craving, the same desire for faith. The cultures and the thinking differs totally,” he said.

He said he learned about America through missionaries that came to Africa, but when he arrived himself, he found that many Americans did not follow the word of God like he believed.

“I felt selfish that I was running back to care for Africa, yet I looked back at America and felt the … churches sliding downwards,” he said.

“I felt concerned, and the Holy Spirit talked to my heart and told me, ‘Do you think it’s only Ugandans who are important souls in the sight of God?’ Americans are very important, and they need to be cared for,” he said.

He said he wants to help guide Americans back to church and back to the Christian faith.

With the five day event that he will be speaking at, he hopes to reach new people for the Lord.

“I want God to be glorified … He is glorified when there are many diciples, when there’s a lot of fruit,” Charlie Winkelman said. “We would love to have many people coming from all kinds of situations and all kinds of different problems and give their life to Christ, accept him as savior and Lord, start a relationship with him and grow with that.”

He said they have a great vision to fill all the churches in the area, and they’re calling on God for help in their crusade to bring people back to church.

“We’ve seen God do this in the past,” he said. “We’re praying that God would do it again.”

The event is free and open to the public. Each night will have a different theme, with a youth night on Wednesday.

“We’re targeting youth Wednesday night, and we’re planning to rock the place,” said Laura Winkelman, crusade committee member. “It’s going to be loud. Various churches are bringing their praise bands different nights, so each night there will be a different praise band from each church.”

She said that they have been preparing for the event for months.