When Phil Fischer was a young professional quickly growing his career and raking in the riches of the world, he would have never imagined that one day he'd be standing where Moses once stood, preaching the word of God to a crowd of 200 non Christains. But recently during a trip to the middle east, that's exactly what he was doing.
The former internet entrepreneur and rock musician now leads Jesus Lives, a non-profit evangelical grassroots ministry based in Bellevue, Washington. Taking his no nonsense preaching from Seattle all the way to the Middle East, Fischer discussed spiritual gifts, feeling lost and stuck, the power of accepting Jesus Christ and using one's gifts to bring people to the church.
Preaching the Five-Fold Giftings
Fischer started his sermon, where he spoke to Christians and Muslims alike, with a prayer at the Palestinian and Jordanian border on Mount Nebo, overlooking the Jordan Valley. Off in the distance lay the Red Sea, the River Jordan and the Sea of Galilee. It was the same spot where Moses was denied entry into the promised land, and where Moses is buried.
Fischer began by drawing a comparison between the desert and the spiritual dryness many people feel today.
"Many of us are living in a spiritual desert, in a place where we haven't been able to cross over into our spiritual promised land," he said. "It seems like the blessings never come, like an airplane circling the airport. People need to get on fire."
Fischer went on to explain the Five-Fold Giftings, which he describes as different roles and gifts each person possesses. He said this particular teaching was for those who feel stuck and feel that nothing is happening for them. His answer?
"Start using your giftings," he said. "Each one of you has at least one. Each one of you has one of these giftings whether you sin or not."
Fischer discussed the five-fold ministry and each of the five roles: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. The apostle is the heart of compassion and the center, the prophet guides and is the person that hears from the spirit of God, the teacher gives a base and has the mind of Christ, the pastor guards the sheep and leads while the evangelist has the hands that reach out to souls and bring them into the church.
Fischer said he has the evangelist gifting, and when he stopped using his gifts to get rich and revel in worldly pleasure, his gifting only became more powerful. When people don't use their giftings or specialties or talents, they end up feeling stuck in life. He also said when one starts using one gifting they may acquire more. He feels he also now has the gifting of pastor.
"Use your talents or you will lose them," he said. "I'm going to use my gifting and you should, too."
During the sermon, Fischer also talked about his talent for music and songwriting. He said he used to use it to make money, but when he used it to lead people to Jesus, it also became stronger.
"When someone in the world accepts Jesus, gets saved, comes to Christ, is baptized and starts using their gifting, a metamorphosis occurs," he said. "They will begin to manifest fruit."
Fischer said this phenomenon is apparent when people see "black sheep," or churchgoers who perhaps have a dark or checkered past that wouldn't necessarily indicate they'd want to be in church. He said these people start using their giftings and become on fire for Christ.
When people do this, Fischer said they also receive the gifts of good choices, knowledge, faith, healing and more. And when faced with difficult or trying times, this is all the more important since so many people lose faith in those trials. Many people, Fischer said, consider falling back into their vices or taking a "God break."
"I know," he said. "I'm human."
Fischer urged his listeners to find a good, Bible-based church and stay there, even when times are tough or they are mocked. He also advised them to figure out what their gifting is and start using it, citing the parable of the talents from the book of Matthew. He also said to stop chasing the treasures of the world or the approval of other people. Fischer brought up his own upbringing, which was difficult and even involved him having to sleep under bridges.
"Many of you are stuck and waiting to enter," he said. "Quit wasting money buying things on your credit card to impress people that don't even care about you!"
That realization, along with his own hard times and a chance encounter, are what eventually led Fischer to start his own church and gave him the strength and conviction to speak in Palestine.
How Fischer started Jesus Lives
The origin of Jesus Lives is a true conversion story. Fischer once was a "black sheep" that he mentioned in his sermon - he wasn't always religious or spiritual. In fact, he was an atheist.
Based in Seattle, Fischer emerged as a leader in the tech space in the late eighties and early 90's. He was also successful in the music industry, where he was a ghostwriter for several famous grunge bands in Seattle and the formed the band The XBox Boys whose album reached the number two spot on MySpace. At the time, Fischer was all-consumed with his worldly success that he didn't have time - or a desire - to dedicate to a spiritual life. Transfixed with the material treasures of the world, Fischer said now he realizes what harm it did to him and that he was called to a higher vocation - leading a new church.
But the journey wasn't without winding turns.
When he fell on hard times professionally in 2001, Fischer was reconsidering his life and what path it would take. One potential route he considered was leaving behind the rush of the city and the shiny tech world to head up to Canada and raise cattle. With $200,000 that he had left, it seemed like an attractive option to retreat to the Yukon for a life in nature, alone.
However, it was the sight of a woman that halted his Canadian plans in their tracks. One evening he met Jamael, who invited him to come to her church. Although he wasn't totally convinced, Fischer decided to give it a chance. What would happen soon would change his life.
The more time Fischer spent with Jamael and her Christian family, the more he became involved in church life. Before long, he became a regular attendee at New Hope International, a church located in Bellevue, Washington. He and Jamael later married and had three children.
But prior to that, it was one morning before sunrise when Jamael's father showed up to Fischer's door to invite him to a revival service. Fischer had been up late the night before drinking, so it didn't seem like the most appealing activity. However, he chose mind over matter and gave it a shot.
During the service, a woman approached him and asked if she could lay hands on him. She simply wanted to pray for him. At that moment, Fischer experienced what so many in churches and revivals had reported before him. He said he felt the Holy Spirit.
Fischer said he'd had a throbbing headache and dry mouth that suddenly disappeared. The experience made him totally sober and now believing in what he thought before was nonsense. For him, attending that revival service changed everything.
The mission for the future
After attending more revivals and trying his hand at starting a Bible study, Fischer started his own religious revival. Based in the Pacific Northwest, which Fischer said is a particularly Christian-averse region, provides its own unique opportunities and challenges. The sermon in Palestine has been but one of the countless ways Fischer now evangelizes the word of God.
Fischer now leads Jesus Lives with the focus of helping Christians see the truth and follow Christ's path. In a world full of injustice, brokenness and lies, Fischer wants his church to be a space for people to come together and deepen their faith. He believes that there are many Christians who have a desire to find their mission or calling, but their current churches don't allow room for them to grow or pursue them. In fact, that was Fischer's own experience. After spending two decades in a church that ultimately wasn't helping him grow, he decided to forge his own path and devote his time to leading Jesus Lives.
When it comes to his mission for the future, Fischer hopes to continue expanding his reach so more people can experience Jesus Lives - one that he is no doubt succeeding in with his latest international sermon. Currently, the church meets twice a week, every Thursday evening for church services and every Saturday evening for revival services.
Although Fischer's troubled past caused him to doubt himself and his ability to lead a church, he feels today that his experience and viewpoint have actually provided him exactly what he needs to effectively lead his church. Today, Fischer serves as an inspiration to those who feel lost, unworthy or unsure of following the path to Christ. He serves as an inspiration to those people, because he was once like them. In closing his sermon, he made one thing very clear.
"I want every single one of you to make it to the promised land," he said.