Over the years, Assemblies of God missionaries have become adept at evangelism and training national leaders. One effective evangelistic tool has been Good News Crusades, which was launched in 1959. The Assemblies of God sponsored and organized large city-wide evangelistic campaigns in various mission areas around the globe, with follow-up and church planting afterwards. Many of these campaigns were held in large auditoriums or tents. Assemblies of God missionaries and national ministers worked together to help fulfill the Great Commission. The goals were to win converts, plant local churches, and stimulate existing congregations. Intense follow-up campaigns were also planned, and contacts were channeled into local Assemblies of God churches. Similar evangelistic meetings are still conducted by missionaries today.
Fifty years ago, the Pentecostal Evangel featured a report of a Good News Crusade held in Congress Hall in Brussels, Belgium. The evangelist was Bob Watters.
A group of Assemblies of God ministers of Belgium met with evangelist Bob Watters in June 1968 and invited him to conduct a series of revival meetings in their country. Much planning and promotion preceded these meetings. National leaders of the Belgium Assemblies of God and Melvin E. Jorgenson, representative of the American Assemblies of God, made the arrangements. The famed Congress Hall at Brussels was secured, and the Ohio District Men’s Fellowship provided literature through Light for the Lost. Continental Bible College (now Continental Theological Seminary) in Brussels chose students to serve as counselors.
In May 1970, Watters conducted what was termed “the first national evangelistic crusade in the history of the nation of Belgium.” The crusade was a cooperative interdenominational endeavor with widespread participation. Assemblies of God and other leading Protestant clergymen sat on the platform and participated in the revival services. Attendees came from 35 Belgian cities.
The gospel was preached in three languages simultaneously during the Good News Crusade. Watters spoke in English. The platform interpreter spoke in French for those people from the south. And the Flemish interpreter used a closed unit-to-earphones sound system for those coming from the north.
Special music complemented the evangelistic messages. Watters played sacred hymns on the organ, and the Protestant Choir of Belgium ministered in song. A converted European nightclub entertainer also presented the gospel to the audience.
Each night after the meetings, people stood in line to speak to the evangelist and his interpreter, Henri Lepczynski, receiving counsel, encouragement, and prayer. Counselors recorded more than 100 first-time conversions.
A number of dramatic conversions took place. Afterwards, a young man wrote to Watters: “After my father died, I felt all alone. I am not alone anymore because now I have Christ.” This man was also reunited with his mother who had become separated from him because of his former life of rebellion.
Pastor and Mrs. Bernard Coviaux, of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Brussels, became drawn to the messages they heard. They opened their home to Watters and asked him many questions about the new birth and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Both of them began seeking a deeper relationship to Christ as well as the Pentecostal experience.
At the conclusion of the campaign, Alfred Amitie, superintendent of the Belgium Assemblies of God, was invited to join the Brussels Protestant Ministers Fellowship. “This 1970 National Belgian Crusade will never be forgotten,” wrote Amitie to Watters. “For all the churches … with all our hearts … I thank you for leading this Good News Crusade.”
Watters began preaching in 1950 at the age of 19 and ministered in music and evangelism, along with his wife, Lillian Overstreet Watters, for many years. She passed away in 1985. In addition to Brussels, Bob Watters held evangelistic campaigns in 64 countries of the world. As a result of Watters’ preaching campaigns in Europe, church leaders reported a dramatic increase in church attendance, as well as several new congregations being established. Watters also has written a number of gospel songs, including “Jesus Is The Answer,” “Lord Send Me Into My World,” and “There’s a Difference.”
Bob Watters is still living and currently resides in Springfield, Missouri. He celebrates his 90th birthday on March 21, 2021.
Read more in “National Belgian Crusade” on pages 20-21 of the March 14, 1971, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• “The Lord Your Healer,” by Robert C. Cunningham
• “Pinedale [New Mexico] Gets A New Church.”
• “The Spirit’s Perpetual Work,” by Andrew T. Floris
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.