Modern-day circuit riders

Modern-day circuit riders

Written on 04/16/2020
Layton MacCabe

Words and photographs by Jerrica Naugler and Layton MacCabe

We left Moncton, New Brunswick in January to begin several months of training in Los Angeles, California. What happened in the weeks after we landed—and before the pandemic lockdown that hit in March—has changed our lives forever.

Our story begins two years ago, when God encountered both of us while we were completing our degrees at a Christian university. We saw a YouTube video documenting a believer hitting the streets of his hometown to tell people about the love of Jesus, and the miraculous events that unfolded as a result.

This spurred us to consider whether we were truly obeying what God had commanded in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19 “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them….”).

Finally, after wrestling with this subject for several days and mustering up more nerve, we shakily stepped out in faith and prayed for a local McDonald’s worker. God used our small, scared “yes” to the Great Commission to launch us into a new perspective, and more importantly, a new lifestyle of evangelism and prayer.

Our newfound hope for seeing Jesus lifted high in our generation led us to connect with a group of young, passionate revivalists in California called the Circuit Riders. Modeled on a historical movement of horseback evangelists who rode city to city in the 18th and 19th centuries, this group has refashioned the identity of their predecessors to create circuits to university campuses.

Bent on sharing the love of Jesus in some of the most secular environments in western civilization, the Circuit Riders crisscross the United States in packed-to-the-brim vans, giving a new face to the modern missions movement. Last year the team saw more than 4,000 young people give their lives to Christ. They witnessed hundreds of miracles before their eyes, such as suicides being stopped by the love of Jesus.

Our training in California has now wrapped up. When the Lord reopens the doors of travel, we are ready to embark on a pioneering circuit across Eastern Canada and New Zealand, along with some wildly enthusiastic preachers, evangelists, worshippers, activists, and artists. Although we have not yet embarked on our circuit, we have already seen incredible testimonies from our outreaches into campuses.

One such testimony took place in the Greek row of Santa Barbara, which is home to a university ranked second on Playboy’s list of U.S. party schools. Needless to say, the streets were awash with drunk and high university students when our team arrived. We partnered with a local ministry to provide free burgers for students passing by on their journey from one party to the next. This allowed us to strike up conversations about Jesus on the street.

We met a girl who only associated the name Jesus with religious rules and regulations. She didn’t know the face of true love, the one who is our saving grace and has the power to set us free. The conversation gripped her attention. We shared the gospel with her and reconstructed her idea of who Jesus is. As she listened intently to the truth about how much God loves her, she broke into tears.

The love of Christ poured over her, and words of truth penetrated her heart. It was evident the Lord had touched her. We asked if she had any pain in her body, and she said her right shoulder had been in significant pain. After being prayed for twice, her shoulder was completely healed. We also prayed for her anxiety, and she kept crying because of how the Lord was encountering her.

After this, she repented and said she wanted to make Jesus her Lord and Saviour! She was very impacted by Jesus on a personal level because we serve such a personal God. This student’s life was radically changed. We plugged her in with the local church community for further discipleship.

The harvest is so ripe. There are millions of people who need hope and truth; Jesus is the only one who can bring them true freedom. Jesus is yearning for our generation to realize that the Great Commission is both within our ability to carry out and our responsibility to steward. The greatest lesson that we’ve learned in our time as full-time missionaries to our generation is that every believer has the ability within them to change the world for God in big and small ways. We can be the catalysts of revival, aided by the power of the Holy Spirit!