Animals attract about 5,000 people total to Living Hope Church services
VANCOUVER, Wash. — Six years ago, Pastor John Bishop shared the stage at Living Hope Church here with a 350-pound tiger. On April 6 and 7, several other members of the Animal Kingdom paid a visit to help Bishop illustrate a relationship series, this time starring Cody, a 500-pound black bear. The Wild Life series focuses on how to “survive the relationship jungle.”
To those who might see having animals on stage as a gimmick aiming only to get people to church, Bishop has a response: “Exactly. If a 500-pound bear will get someone to church to hear the life-changing message of Christ, then I’ll find a bear. We will do anything, short of sin, to reach the next person for the Kingdom of God.”
More than 5,000 people came to see Eli the chimp; Julius Squeezer, an 8-foot-long boa; and Snappy the alligator, among others, and of course, the furry star of the show, Cody. Bishop managed to keep all his fingers while feeding Cody cookies.
As Bishop shared about Jesus, the Lamb of God, 130 people responded to Christ, and then were spontaneously baptized over the course of the weekend — this following 226 baptisms Easter weekend.
It is that same passion for touching hearts for Christ that prompted Bishop’s latest book, God Distorted — which looks at how one’s earthly father affects perceptions of God and why that matters — as well as a return visit to Living Hope May 11 and 12 by evangelist Billy Graham’s daughter, Ruth Graham. For more information on both, go to livinghopechurch.com.