Description: Evangelist Kevin Wagner was a pastor in Canada for ten years before he transitioned to being a full-time international evangelist. On today’s podcast he talks about the differences between being a pastor and being an evangelist.
Hear the story of a “hinge crusade” done by Reinhard Bonnke in Nigeria.
Kevin Wagner answers some important questions:
How many people have been baptized because of your crusades and how do you track these baptisms?
What are the differences between pastors and evangelists?
What is the difference between preaching to Canadians and preaching to people on the other side of the world?
Key Thoughts from Kevin Wagner:
Pastors minister to believers first, and evangelists minister to the lost first.
On the surface, people may look different, but people are really the same no matter where you go. They have many of the same hopes and dreams and problems and fears.
Daniel King (00:00):
Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. I am here with my friend, dr. Kevin Wagner today, and we’re actually a paradox. Did you know that I’m a doctor? I did my doctorate of ministry at oral Roberts university. And you’re a doctor. You did your doctorate of ministry at oral Roberts university. And so something could happen in the space time continuum right here with a paradox talking about evangelism. Welcome dr. Kevin. It’s great to be
Kevin Wagner (00:29):
Here. Dan evangelists, Daniel and dr. Daniel. Yeah.
Daniel King (00:32):
So dr. Kevin you’re an evangelist. How many years have you been doing full time evangelism?
Kevin Wagner (00:41):
Full time evangelism for 20 years now. Wow.
Daniel King (00:45):
And tell me, how did you become an evangelist?
Kevin Wagner (00:48):
Okay. So Jesus changed my life when I was 17 years old. From that point on, I really felt a call to full time ministry. And so I went to college university seminary and and was preparing to be, you know, a pastor and, and that’s what I was for 10 years. So I pastored and churches I’m originally, I am Canadian. And we originally, I am Canadian.
Daniel King (01:14):
And so that means you like hockey that’s right. You are sorry for everything. That’s right, exactly. What else? And you live in an igloo, something like that lived anyway,
Kevin Wagner (01:25):
I live in Tulsa now for 20 years, but for 10 years I pastored in Canada and some great churches. I loved pastoring and it took God almost a whole year of working on me and me praying and fasting along with my wife for months to determine that he eventually wanted me to transition out of full time pastoring and to full time evangelism. And so after pastoring, for those 10 years in Canada, then Jesus said, you know what, it’s time to take a, your soul winning heart to the nations. Because, you know, when I was pastoring, I was still, our church has always very event. Our churches were always very evangelistic. I was always leading or sending out mission teams and individuals out into the harvest fields, always you know, the front door of our church was, was, was always being used well by new believers, we did our best to close the back door so that they’d all stay. So it was all, all our churches were always soul-winning churches as part of my mission or my ministry mandate. But finally God said, you know what? You, you need to there’s the harvest is so plentiful out there that we need another labor full time in the harvest fields. And so after, like I said, almost a year of praying and fasting my, we didn’t fast the whole year, of course, but my wife
Daniel King (02:52):
All year long, that’d be, I met a guy one time. He said he fasted every day, every other day. He says I fast six months out of every year. Wow. Okay. That’s quite a testimony there. So you are fasting, you are praying and you felt like this transition from pastoring in Canada to going out on the harvest fields. And you mentioned that the tremendous need that that’s out there in the harvest field. What, what really motivated you to want to go out after Los soles and in different countries?
Kevin Wagner (03:28):
Well, you know, at this point dr. Daniel, it was around the turn of the century and it was when evangelist Reinhard bonky had been doing of course, many large crusades in the in least reach parts of the world for years. But this was a real time when God just really boosted his ministry forward. And I began seeing the incredible hunger for getting to know the one true God and the parts of the world that are least reached for Christ and Africa, North Africa in particular Asia and the middle East. And I looked into the, you know, at the Buddhist and the Hindu and the Muslim world, and I saw that the, the need was so great. You know, we have such a high percentage of, of full time ministry, people who are working in North America and in the rest of the world, there’s such a, a minuscule percentage of people doing the bulk of their ministry over there. And so I said, you know, I really felt, God’s saying you need to focus your attention in these last great days of harvest before I returned on trying to bring as many people into the kingdom as possible. And so, you know, the rest kind of his history, I, I ran with that mandate and went on a few crusades early on after I stopped pastoring with some other evangelists into the nations.
Daniel King (04:52):
One of Reinhard Bonnke’s crusades. Where did you go?
Kevin Wagner (04:55):
Yeah, I did. We w I went to the I was with a very small team of Canadians who accompanied him and his team into Benin city, Nigeria in 1999. And in that crusade, like, okay, so that crusade was what I, I, and I think the bunkie people to have called a hinge crusade, meaning that he had been taken out of Nigeria forbidden to come into Nigeria for several years before that, because the there was a change of government. They didn’t have the favor with the leaders that they needed, but this was the first crusade back into Nigeria after a number of years. And that first night of crusade meetings was there were 375,000 people that attended the very first night of six. And I remember the next morning at our, at our staff devotions, our team devotions Peter Vandenberg stood up in the, in the ms star group.
Kevin Wagner (05:51):
And he said, I want you to know this. He says, that was that first meeting was the three times size of the previous largest, first time, first day of the week meetings that we’ve ever had. Wow. And quite honestly, and then the rest of the week just took off from there. And so that crusade really preceded his large crusade in Lego. So millennium crusade, which is the largest crusade that, that he ever did. And also the you know, just the, the next decade or so of meeting after meeting and in Africa, that was just blow out in terms of numbers and salvations and harvest. And so that was kind of a real breakthrough event that God did. And we were part of that.
Daniel King (06:37):
You got to be there for that hinge crusade, what a tremendous privilege, and then that launched you out into your ministry. And so in the 20 years that you’ve been doing evangelism, what have been some of the fruits that you’ve seen?
Kevin Wagner (06:51):
Well, dr. Daniel, we have now preached over a hundred crusades in primarily Asia, Africa and the middle East, and by God’s grace, we have seen well over 2 million people indicating decisions for Christ. Most of them, first time decisions. Oh, that’s amazing. Well, it’s all up, it’s all Jesus, of course we give them all the credit. And it’s also, these are, these are people who really, for the most part, they’re in the Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu parts of the world, meaning that these are people who, until they attended our crusade, many of them had never seen it with their own eyes, a born again, Christian, before we go to crusade, we do our crusades very off the beaten track. I know just like many of the crusades that you do. And so, you know, we fly into a major city and in the country, but then we’ll drive for hours and hours or we’ll take an interior flight and then drive to places where they’ve never had meetings like this, or they haven’t had them for years.
Kevin Wagner (07:54):
And so you’ve got a whole generation of people in these places that have not, we might very well be the first born again, Christian that they’ve ever met. Wow. And they are have been hungering after a touch from the one true God for so long. And so the harvest, the people are just ripe and ready. Like Jesus says to commit their lives to him. And for his sake, the F the serving of other gods. The other thing that we enjoy doing so much is we enjoy tracking the the number of baptisms as much as we can with our crusade directors for up to one year after the crusade is done. And so how do you do that right after
Daniel King (08:36):
The crusade is done, you ask the, the local organizer to keep you updated with how many people are being baptized in the local churches.
Kevin Wagner (08:45):
Yeah, that’s right. You know, because I went into full time evangelism having been a pastor for a full decade. I had a real pastor’s heart going into it. And I was really intent on trying to do what we can to not just number the decisions that were made, but also to number in some ways, the best thing that we could track statistically in terms of who actually becomes a disciple. And in many of these countries where the cost of discipleship is great, we’re oppression and opposition, and even persecution, sometimes even martyrdom of believers is happening in these hostile nations to Christ. People getting baptized in these countries is the Mark. In many ways of people who really have taken their faith seriously
Daniel King (09:31):
Need to really follow Christ and are willing to sacrifice and pay the price,
Kevin Wagner (09:36):
Counted the cost, like you said, and they’ve decided they want to serve Jesus. And so I’m happy to say that we’ve had over 160,000 recorded baptisms after the crusade. We only tracked numbers up to one year. So the number of course would be significantly more than that too, when you take that into account. But suffice it to say that we work, like you said, with our crusade directors, they have an expectation when they do one of our crusades that we’re going to be looking to them for monthly or regular reports at the very least up to a year of the number of paths, people getting baptized, and how do they do that? Well, they of course have been working for a long time with the local pastors in those places. And so they keep in touch with them and they get reports from the local pastors
Daniel King (10:26):
About this. That’s a major praise report, 160,000 people baptized as a direct result of your crusades. What a, what a tremendous blessing that is. Now, let’s talk about the difference between being a pastor and being an evangelist. You were a pastor for many years, and in when you were a good pastor, you had the heart of a pastor and now you’re, you’re an evangelist. So you kind of see both worlds. And, and, and sometimes I find that pastors don’t really understand evangelists and sometimes evangelists don’t really understand that the needs of, of pastors. What would you say are some of the differences?
Kevin Wagner (11:07):
It’s a great question. And you know, I’m going to take us back dr. Danielle to a meeting actually at your home a number of years ago, when you invited a few of us over to sit at the feet of the great man of God and evangelist, TLS Borna, a real father figure to all of us who are evangelists today,
Daniel King (11:26):
That was a great event. What a privilege to be able to talk to TLR Osborne, and ask him questions.
Kevin Wagner (11:32):
It was incredible. And I remember TL sitting there and just, you know, pouring out his heart to us. And he made a distinction in that meeting that I’ve always remembered. He talked about the difference between preaching and teaching. And I I guess I knew that at the time, but the way he said it was so simple and so good. And I think that the difference between preaching and the difference of routine teaching is really the difference between a pastor and an evangelist, the subtle nuance. So here’s how it goes. Teaching is explaining and preaching is proclaiming.
Daniel King (12:09):
So teaching is explaining, you’re explaining something to your audience and then preaching is, is proclaiming. And there, I found that there is great power in the gospel when it is proclaimed. Absolutely. You know, as a PA, when I was pastoring for those 10 years, I remember getting upset
Kevin Wagner (12:32):
After Sunday, sometimes multiple time, many times, multiple times on Sundays and throughout the week. And what would I be doing? I’d be cracking the word of God open, and I’d be focusing on a scripture. And I would be you know, talking to people about
Daniel King (12:48):
About, you know, what the word of God meant for them
Kevin Wagner (12:51):
Verse by verse precept, by precept and, and just, you know, giving them the word of God and teaching it. And, you know, if it wasn’t in a Sunday morning setting or a Sunday preach, you know, pulpit setting, if it was in Bible slays, and he’d open it up for tea, for questions, you know, and people would ask questions about it, and then you’d take the time to examine those things. That’s primarily the work of a pastor. And so when you see an Ephesians four, the five fold ministry you see in the, in the Greek, when it says pastors and teachers, some of people have been appointed to be that that’s a hyphenated word as far as I’ve been taught. And that means that there’s a close relationship between pastors and teachers. Now, an evangelist is something a bit different. The evangelist is a different part of the five fold ministry and Ephesians four, that’s someone who, like you said, he proclaims, or she proclaims the word of God. That means that you speak the word of God with clarity and in truth, but it’s not something that you are going to be really expounding on the why so much as you preach as you, it’s rather you’re proclaiming the, what you’re proclaiming the certainty of what God says about someone’s need to be
Daniel King (14:11):
About the way to be saved about the way to be healed, the way to be
Kevin Wagner (14:15):
She delivered from demons, et cetera. And as you speak the certainty, and as you proclaim the certainty of the word of God that’s the Holy spirit lives in those words. And you and I have seen this together at certain crusades overseas, when you and I have been together. And, and of course alone, too, with other people that God just manifests himself in those words. And it’s so powerful,
Daniel King (14:42):
Builds faith in people to hear about Jesus, even the simplicity of the gospel to hear about how God became man grew up walked the dusty streets of Israel, performed miracles, and then died on the cross to pay the price for our sins and Rose from the dead. It’s a very simple message. It’s not super complicated. Pastors have to come up with new messages 52 weeks a year. And if they’re doing two services a week, that’s over a hundred sermons they have to come up with. But an evangelist often just preaches something very simple over and over and over again.
Kevin Wagner (15:22):
And evangelist, proclaims truth. A teacher, a pastor explains truth. You know, you see the differences in Jesus. I mean, he was both an evangelist and a pastor in his anointing among of course, many other things too. But you look at the sermon on the Mount. There was a huge crowd of people that Jesus was preaching to there and Matthew, and when he was giving the beatitudes, blessed are the poor, blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. He was after each of the beatitudes, dr. Daniel. He wouldn’t say, now, if you have a question about this, raise your hand and I’d like to talk to you about that. No, he was proclaiming truth to multitudes of people. And the word of God lived in that. Now there were other times when privately or in smaller groups, he would teach his disciples. For example, you think in Mark four, with the parable of the soar, they did have questions about what that meant.
Kevin Wagner (16:15):
And so Jesus unpacked the meaning of that parable for them. So you see those differences. I think that’s, that’s for me been one of the things that, you know, I probably wrote more sermons I’m in fact, I’m I know I have, I’ve written more sermons in those 10 years of pastoring than I have in the 20 years of being an evangelist. In fact, I would say many more sure. You know, but that doesn’t negate the power or the, or the validity of this, of any of the sermons. They’re all powerful, but they’re meant to be preached in many ways to different audiences, primarily in evangelists as gearing his messages towards unbelievers first. Whereas pastors are typically gearing their messages to believers first.
Daniel King (17:02):
Now, talk to me about the, the different context of ministry. You were a pastor in Canada, and then you went to being an evangelist in Asia, in Africa, and it’s a very different context of ministry. What, what are some of the, the difference of going from preaching to Canadians to preach into people that maybe have never heard the gospel before?
Kevin Wagner (17:29):
You know, it’s a, it’s a fantastic question. Dr. Daniel, and I think just to preface it, I’ll say this, that the more I travel, particularly at a place where, to places that look very differently than they do in North America eat very different food, talk very different languages are very different weather. You know what? The more I travel, the more I realize that people are so much the same inside of people, the things that they desire, the things that they want are so much the same people have. Every person has guilt inside every person desires to know why they’re created, how they can be forgiven. Every mother wants their children to grow up happy and healthy and have good lives. Every father has a desire to know what his son or daughter is going to do with their lives. No matter where we go in the world, it seems like people, to me are more, the, the similarities greatly outweigh the differences. But I think that in terms of some of the ministry aspects of what’s going on in different parts of the world, here’s what I would say.
Daniel King (18:40):
I would say this,
Kevin Wagner (18:42):
That, first of all, you have to adjust how you speak over there. In other words, when you know me well. And so, you know, I’m a pretty lighthearted guy. I like to joke around and have a lot of fun. And, and even as a pastor, I would be, that’s the type, the type of way I preached often, but quickly I found out, I think on my very first crusade, I found out that jokes do not translate well,
Daniel King (19:08):
Humor is very difficult when you’re dealing with a different language and a different culture, and you try to tell a joke and sometimes it just falls flat.
Kevin Wagner (19:18):
Yeah. And so I have early on, I kind of left that whole part of me behind, and it also helps to here’s what happens over in these cultures because of course I only speak English fluently. And so I’m never speaking the language of over there, apart from a few words like greetings and, and praise the Lord and stuff. But I’m always working with an interpreter as I think you are too, for the most part. And when you’re working with an interpreter, you have to use just short segments of speech, maybe one phrase, maybe a couple of phrases, one sentence or two short patterns of thought, and then you have to stop and let the interpreter tell the people what you just said. What that does is it really helps preachers from chasing rabbit trails. I find, in other words, it keeps you very honest in making every word you say, count your words when you’re preaching in those settings need to be very direct very, to the point, you’re not going to be wasting words. You’re not going to be using colloquialisms that people in North America kind of understand, or even cliches for the most part, you’re going to be using very, very strict English that the interpreter can understand clearly. And then you’re going to just really, it keeps you from going off to places with rambling thoughts that sometimes happens in sermons when you’re kind of,
Daniel King (20:43):
Well, I think the difference is a pastor has people over a of time and is able to, to develop them to maturity has more time to be able to invest in them for an evangelist. You may really only have one chance because if someone is at the service tonight, they might not come tomorrow night. So this is your opportunity to share with them about Jesus and to challenge them, to accept Christ as, as their savior. And really the, the evangelists message, the whole point of it is to bring people to that point of decision, whether they are going to accept Christ or to walk away from him, that’s
Kevin Wagner (21:25):
A hundred percent right. And you know, here’s another change. I was just a difference. I was just talking to someone else about this this week and over there in these other countries, here’s what I’ve found. I’ve found that the denominational differences are quite blurred. In other words, because in these countries that were Christians or severe minority, in many cases, most of the countries that I go to the Christian population is, is 2% or less. And in many cases it’s a persecuted minority or an at least an oppressed minority. And so Christians may belong to different churches and denominations, but there, because of that reality in their lives, they don’t have the luxury, I guess, or maybe luxury isn’t even the right word, but they don’t really focus on the differences so much in doctrine. And so, for example, over here, you know, you have people who might believe that the gifts of the Holy spirit are for today.
Kevin Wagner (22:27):
Some people believe in speaking in tongues, some people don’t, some people believe that God still heals people supernaturally apart from medicine, even though we are very thankful for doctors and modern medicine but over there, there’s no I’ve never in 20 years come across anyone who’s talked to me negatively about praying for the sick or about casting out demons or about any sort of power encounters that we might have in those settings. And I think the reason is, is because whether you’re Methodist or Anglican or Catholic or Pentecostal or anything in between the people over there for the most part, what I’ve seen is they read their Bibles. They have a child like faith, not a childish faith, but a childlike faith that trusts what the word of God has to say implicitly. And when they read about Jesus doing these things, and Jesus says, you’re going to do the same things that I did, they think, okay, well, that makes sense to me. I can understand that and they get it. And that’s, that’s, I think a big difference there is that we don’t have, I haven’t, I have never had to spend time trying to justify the use of the gifts of the Holy spirit over in these settings. Even if I’m not in a Pentecostal church.
Daniel King (23:48):
And often the, the supernatural is very real. When you pray for demons to be cast out immediately, demons will will manifest. And that’s not to say we don’t have demons here in, in North America, but I think our demons here are more sophisticated demons and they, they hide. We still have lots of demons of pride and anger and all kinds of demonic issues in, in North America. But when you, you go to Africa, you feel very close to the supernatural. They, they, they believe in the supernatural because they see things happen supernaturally on a daily basis.
Kevin Wagner (24:30):
And that’s a really good point. You really need to have to be ready to to walk in the supernatural world. And I guess in the, both the, you know, the, the Holy spirit world and the demonic world, you don’t walk in the demonic world, but you have to be able, you need to be ready to take it on you know, full, full forward. You can’t be, you can’t shy away from it. And I learned from the start having been influenced by people, as I said before, rinerd bonky, TLR, Osborne. These men of God were very clear that, you know, when you go into these countries that have been dominated by demons by, by witchcraft, by witchdoctors by pagan religions, you need to understand that Satan has had a hold in these places for so many centuries that you’re walking into a mind field of demonic activity, like you said. And so we need to be ready to cast out those devils like Jesus did. We need to be ready to click, to declare victory over illness and disease that is haunted and plagued these people for so long. And if we’re not ready to do that in many times, these countries can become the graveyard of evangelists were excited, evangelists go there. But if they’re not walking in the power of God, they can come back very discouraged because the devil can chew them up and spit them out.
Daniel King (25:51):
Well, thank God for evangelists like you, that have not been chewed up by the devil, not in race, defeating the devil in countries all over the world. So dr. Kevin, thank you so much for joining us today. I love hearing your insights and your stories about what God is doing around the world. Thank you very much, dr. Daniel, God bless you. Thank you.