David Evans: Soldiers In Christ

Sunday 1st July 2001

Singer and evangelist DAVID EVANS works with Operation Africa and has been privileged to see God move in mighty power.

David Evans
David Evans

David Evans propelled himself onto the stage, refusing to be intimidated by the seething mass of African soldiers in combat greens. Among the crowd of thousands at this Operation Africa concert were the commanders of the small African nation's defence forces. He could tell them by their insignias and decorations, the way they carried themselves and their prominent position in the crowd. He knew full well that he was engaging in the most serious warfare of all... a battle for men's and women's souls.

He set about crossing the cultural boundaries with his music, determined to expose the hardest of war veterans to the love and presence of Jesus. For many of the armed forces present, this would be their only opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour; within two years many would die, from AIDS or in armed conflict. By the end he had succeeded, the crowd responding, more than 80 per cent, including army heads, raising their hands to accept Christ as Saviour. Wherever David's amazing musical talents have taken him, he unashamedly has declared that his primary passion is to preach the Gospel.

Seeing himself primarily as "a preacher who sings", he has continually confounded attempts by the gospel music industry to define his style. "My musical style is rhythmical worship... rhythms and sounds that basically take you into the presence of God," he says, "...beautiful soft pad sounds and strong melodies with a rhythm that undergirds the whole. The prophetic is part of who I am; I believe God speaks through my music."

On that hot African night, David used the musical form which best linked him with the audience. If he'd been doing one of his regular concerts in an Australian high school, it would have been hardcore rock or grunge; or in New Zealand he would have done hip hop. "I use every type of music purely as a tool. Music is not just for self-indulgence, or I'd do everything U2-ish or funk," he says. That night, in the battle for souls, he called on his extensive stage knowledge to get rapport with the audience. He picked a soldier from the crowd and shook his hand, made reference to his cap, talked about the commanders, threw a mic into one's face and got him to sing. He chose songs the crowd and accompanying local musicians probably all knew... "three-chord wonder songs" such as "Lean On Me" and "Stand By Me"... "Africans are into rhythm and beat and reggae," David says. "At first I felt frustrated in Africa at not finding the right keys to break through. Then we found that it is best to get their own people to do things. We started having games like the limbo and give away prizes for dance. I'd say to them, 'Give me some African dance'; some of them really get into it, it's fantastic. You pick a number of eager faces; you've got to find the clown of the bunch to animate the crowd."

"David freaks me out when he does those things to hardened soldiers to break the ice," an Operation Africa spokesman said, smiling nervously. David said the Operation Africa tours were one of the most comprehensive ways he had seen salvations, the huge success rate comparing with two to five per cent back in Australia. He said African hearts are so open to the Gospel because they understand the whole supernatural area of principalities and powers. Born into a similarly sensitive culture as the son of a missionary in Papua New Guinea, David said the demonic there uses fear to control people, whereas in the Western world "he disappears and uses humanism to facilitate destruction." David believes that in the end times, "God music" will become more prevalent. In other words, "music that while you are singing or playing takes on a supernatural essence." "It doesn't only occur in slow worshipful sounds because I have witnessed God music in heavy rhythmical sounding songs," David said. "You know it is God when certain evidence demands the verdict." That evidence was revealed in the faces of hundreds and thousands of soldiers on a steamy African night. "I see a lot of shiny faces, because of the tears. These guys hardly know what we're talking about, but they sense the presence of God and weep and there's a love and a peace." David launched into what he calls trigger song, "Amazing Grace" and "Hallelujah" and hardened, yet hungry soldiers, ripe for the harvest, were immediately in the presence of God.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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