- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Evangelist Dave Kistler is conducting an old-fashioned tent crusade on the Mall this week, offering patriotic concerts in the afternoons, followed by gospel meetings each evening.

Mr. Kistler, whose crusade ends Friday, is a founder of HOPE (Helping Others Prepare for Eternity) Ministries International. He said his desire is “to see this country turn back to its roots.”

“I am burdened and passionate to preach the gospel, motivated by my own salvation and what Christ has done for me,” Mr. Kistler said. “I want to share what He can do for others. We are here primarily to spread the gospel, but this year, we will go after our legislators as well.

“We will encourage them to vote for the constitutional amendment that defines marriage as God defines it,” Mr. Kistler said. “If that goes out the window, then it’s Katy bar the door.”

Mr. Kistler has a congressional outreach team of 10 businessmen who are distributing nearly $10,000 worth of leather-bound Bibles, one for every senator and congressman, in what they call “Operation Good News.” According to event coordinator Walter Johnson, the group obtained appointments to meet with 48 legislators to deliver the Bibles in person and offer prayer support. The rest of the Bibles will be mailed.

These Bibles have a plate inside the cover, inscribed with two quotes:

c”It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” — George Washington

c”In what light soever we regard the Bible, whether with reference to revelation, to history or to morality, it is an invaluable and inexhaustible mine of knowledge and virtue.” — John Quincy Adams.

Mr. Kistler said Sen. Elizabeth Dole, North Carolina Republican, was called out on an emergency just after he arrived to present her Bible. He said he looked at the men who were with him as she hurried out of the building and said, “Guys, that’s probably as close as we’ll get to Elizabeth Dole today.”

To his surprise, he said, he received a call about an hour later from Mrs. Dole’s office, inviting him to come back. He said he returned and had prayer with Mrs. Dole in the Capitol with tourists milling around them.

“The [lawmakers] I’ve met with have all said they were so encouraged to have us uplift them in prayer,” Mr. Johnson said. “It’s phenomenal to see how the Lord is opening doors for us.”

Mr. Kistler travels with a staff of 25, most of whom are unpaid volunteers. Crusade workers had to adapt their arrangements with the National Park Service because of the events surrounding former President Ronald Reagan’s funeral. On Friday, it took a dozen men about five hours to set up the crusade tent in front of the National Air and Space Museum.

Fred Stoll, who travels with Mr. Kistler and is in charge of tent raisings, said that several hundred other volunteers have traveled to the District from all over the country to help. Among them are teen groups, helping to distribute 40,000 gospel tracts and 5,000 bottles of water.

The evangelistic team offers free patriotic concerts at 1 p.m. each day, featuring National Quartet Convention champions, the Daybreak Quartet, soloist Jose Young, and the Kistlers. Impressionist Craig Crumpton adds humor with impersonations of former presidents and cartoon characters during the concerts.

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