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Thursday, July 17, 2008
Church planter is ‘Documenting the Harvest’
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
HERTFORDSHIRE, UK (ANS) -- Growing up on the East Coast of America, David Sullivan attended and then
graduated from a small Christian high school. His interests were in writing and the media and finding ways of reaching
people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Producing his church’s radio show was good practice but merely whet his
appetite for the media.
His sister, Maria, was a veteran missionary with the Yononomi Indians in the Amazon jungles of Brazil, where David
spent a summer learning about their culture and working alongside the missionaries. In college his very first trip was
to the college radio station where he quickly rose to become the Music Director and Director of Special Productions.
A younger David with British pop singer, Cliff Richard
He soon had his own independent radio production company and was interviewing people such as Cliff Richard,
Gilbert O’Sullivan, Patty Duke and John Astin and others – both Christians and non-Christians. This meant
sometimes, spending hours in private conversations with the likes of the BeeGees and famous screen “idols”.
It was good training but seemed to be a “dead end” as he graduated and soon became the Pastor of a northern New
England Baptist Church. His “tentmaking” job there was to be a journalist for the local newspaper.
The next phase of ministry meant travelling on the evangelistic field as well as helping new church plants more with
more “tentmaking” involved. In 1989 he moved to England where He felt God’s call to reach the U.K. and Europe and
assist new church seedlings. Now much of his time was taken up in assisting foreign TV networks and film companies
to put together their U. K. productions – from Korea, Australia, India, the U.S. and many other nations. One such
project was working on a couple of James Bond films. Another interesting production was putting together a special
ABC 20/20 edition with Barbara Walters and Angelina Jolie in London.
David was also helping overseas ministry put together special events numbering up to 15,000 people for a week at a
time. It was during this time that the ministry that he directs, Harvest Fields Commissioning International, began a
series of leadership training meetings in Athens, Greece and outside of Rome, Italy. Today that outreach of HFC
International has expanded to 42 countries.
God began dealing with him and one day he felt God speaking to his heart saying, “You’ve done the ministry and
done the film production. Now put the two of them together.” “That was a real turning point in our ministry,” says
David. “We began to put together a film series that we are still producing to this day entitled “Into All the World."
"In the U. S., for example, it is estimated that 80-90% of people don't hold a foreign passport. That means that an
understanding of the situations facing Christians in many countries is very limited. We try to bring the stories of
Christians in foreign lands to people's homes and churches via DVD and TV," David continues. "In that way all of us
can pray more effectively for their particular needs and situations." The Christians oversees are encouraged and
appreciate that other Christians are concerned and will pray for them."
Filming outside of the Tiananmen Gate of The Forbidden City in Beijing, China – April 2008
The production arm of the ministry, OLI Productions, has filmed in dozens of countries including China, Kenya, Brazil,
Italy, Norway and Poland. “We are in these countries anyway for the leadership seminars so we don’t have to budget
much more to film there. Although we offer the training sessions, which we call “AGAPE:Live!,” as a free gift to the
local, regional and national churches the budget that we need to reach still does not total the typical lo/no budget
film.” Many of them have and are being dubbed into Mandarin, Dutch, Arabic, Farsi, Romania, Russian and a host of
While preparing for a film on Sweden, David contacted the new Pastor of Livets Ord (Word of Life) Church Uppsala,
due to the fact that the church’s founder and previous Pastor, author Ulf Ekman, had moved to Israel.
“Out of the blue we received an e-mail from Pastor Ulf saying that he would be flying in from Israel that morning for
the morning service and asking if we would like to interview him, instead,” David adds. They jumped at the chance.
Upon looking through the footage that they were going to merely take out a few minutes excerpts for the film. They
immediately recognised that they had an entirely new series on their hands.
David continues, “When I asked Pastor Ulf how he handles criticism we knew that, being the first non-denominational
church in Sweden raised many enemies. A bomb went off both in the church sanctuary and at his home. His children
went to school with graffiti on walls that read “Hang Ulf Ekman.” When a person answers that question with that
background you need to listen.”
The ministry and associated production company, OLI Productions, realised that they had 30 minutes of “Principles of
Leadership.” That became the series of films that are still being added to today. Guests have also included New York
Times best-selling author and minister Joyce Meyer, international evangelist Dr. Luis Palau, Brother Andrew (best-
selling author of “God’s Smuggler) Jackie Pullinger OBE (best- selling author of the book “Chasing the Dragon” and
founder of St. Stephen’s Society in Hong Kong) , George Verwer (founder of OM), Loren Cunningham (founder of
YWAM), Lord George Carey (the evangelical former Archbishop of Canterbury), Canon Andrew White (the Vicar of
Baghdad), Baroness Caroline Cox (House of Lord’s – Parliament), Greek Cypriot evangelist Canon J. John, Baron
Brian Mawhinney (House of Lord’s – Parliament) and a host of other special guests.
You are as likely to find David and crew filming in Hong Kong as in Holland. A recently released film, "CHINA:
Reflections from Heaven" shares the plight and hopes of God's church in that might nation, with special emphasis on
its preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. One of their upcoming productions, “True Stories of Dutch Courage”
highlights the story of Corrie ten Boom and Brother Andrew, with exclusive interviews with the latter.
The next stage of growth came while the Director attended a Christian Broadcasting conference in Switzerland.
“Almost all of the Christian networks were jumping at the chance to air our main two series of films that are
evangelistic, but in a totally different way. They preach without being “preachy”. One CEO even interrupted a
conversation I was having with someone else to say, “We want those programmes. Please sign us up.” David adds.”
Preaching at a “Cowboy church” in St. Petersburg, Russia
“Now we are broadcasting two series on 12 networks and in production on four new series. God has taken our five
loaves and two fish, broken it, blessed it and used it to help to feed the nations. Many of the countries that are
viewing the films on TV and churches are places where leadership training via DVD and TV is so needed – places
such as China, Iran, Iraq, the Middle East, Russia, the CIS countries, Romania, Holland, Mexico and North America.
There is, conservatively, an estimated TV viewing audience of the programmes of over 250 million people. This year
a total of four films will be produced in High Definition on Blu-ray DVD.
David concludes by saying, “I am thrilled to be a part of a team that God is using to be, what we say is "Documenting
the Harvest". I used to think that I had these two opposing interests – the media and ministry. Now I can see God’s
hand in it and God can and has used both and combined them into one tool that He can use to reach into the hearts
and lives of those he wants to pour out His love into. We’re just vessels in His hands.”
For more information go to www.agapelive.net (for ministry) www.oliproductions.com (for the production side)
Dan Wooding, 67, is an award winning British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife Norma of 44
years. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the
ASSIST News Service (ANS). He was, for ten years, a commentator, on the UPI Radio Network in Washington, DC.
Wooding is the author of some 42 books, the latest of which is his autobiography, "From Tabloid to Truth", which is
published by Theatron Books. To order a copy, go to www.fromtabloidtotruth.com. email@example.com.
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