“Everything has a small and mostly invisible beginning. Think of each of us being conceived as a baby. Even cancer in its initial stages cannot be seen or felt. You can’t see it, but it’s there.” — With this opening statement, US evangelist Chad Daniel began his talk on sin to pupils at the Bellville High School, Cape Town, yesterday.
Now there may not be anything unusual or different about Daniel’s message. But the way he illustrates it surely is. He uses three different-sized snakes to demonstrate his point. The smallest one is a mere 18 months-old. The medium snake is 4 years old and the biggest, a 7 year old Burmese python, is the 3m ‘Beast’ that weighs in at 70kg.
With the help of his living sermon illustrations Daniel had the learners’ attention as he continued to explain that bad habits and addictions all start out insignificant and in the dark.
“In the beginning you can control and hide it. However, as you feed it, it grows and will reach a stage when you no longer can keep it hidden. Eventually it becomes so big that you not only cannot hide it, but you also cannot control it. Finally it will control and destroy you – if not physically, then most definitely spiritually.”
The students listened raptly and jumped at the opportunity to meet the reptiles face-to-face before Daniel left. He said there is no typical reaction that can be ascribed to his audiences. However, he said he was overwhelmed by the response in Valhalla Park, Cape Town, where most of his audience were Muslims. They begged him to come back, hungry for the Word and the message he brings.
Daniel, who has been a youth pastor for the past 20 years, said that along the way he realised he needed something to draw the teenage generation into the church. As he hails from Louisiana, USA where the swamp people are famous for catching reptiles and crocodiles, he decided to use snakes to illustrate his message on sin. He travels the world with his message and has been visiting South Africa for the past 10 years. This month he has been calling on schools in the Western Cape.
Although Daniel’s target audience is usually between the ages of 12 and 30, his messages relate to everybody. However he said he has found that the rate of salvation declines sharply after the age of 21. Therefore it is important to get the basics to the young ones, before it’s too late. He said he has a passion for reaching out to the fatherless generation – who have many teachers, but no fathers to look up to for guidance or an example.
Daniel said he does not visit schools at all in the USA, as they are not allowed to talk about Jesus Christ in the schools. He told the pupils at Bellville High yesterday that we enjoy a wonderful privilege in South Africa, where we are allowed to freely bring messages of hope and salvation to the scholars of the mainstream schools.
He said he has also recently sent 10 000 DVD presentations in Mandarin to the underground church in China.
Daniel formerly worked for Joyce Meyer’s organisation with which he still has close ties. He is also affiliated with ISOM, which has the largest video Bible training curriculum in the world. More information about his ministry is available online at www.youthbytes.org and www.isom.org