On 12/02/10, we wrote a post, link here, on Christian cruises, questioning the evangelical merit of such enterprises. A couple of days ago, we were contacted by Matthew Dunaway and Wade Hamner of that ministry seeking to give us the other side of the story. I, (Dee) was most impressed by the sincerity of their explanation and the obvious passion that this ministry has in reaching the lost.
Dr Dunaway had an obvious command of the statistics of the success of his ministry. He has long been involved in evangelistic efforts, having been once associated with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. I immediately offered to post their explanation of their deep passion and how that exhibits itself in their ministry. This just goes to show our readers that we don't always get it right.
PS Forgive my spelling-I have a pretty bad head cold and my proofing is off.
My name is Matthew Dunaway, and I am the President of PraiseFest Ministries. I would like to respond to your blog,
A) I want to give you some background.
First of all our ministry is nonprofit. I work a full time job. I do not get paid to run this ministry. Second, the artists and speakers DO NOT get paid to be a part of this mission. You mention that they may get a cabin to go on the cruise. For the few that do, it is in trade for their promotion. We have to raise our funds and so our advertising budget is very small so we depend on grass roots promotion. We rely on our artists and speakers to help get the people we need to go on the trip so that we can recoup the expense that we have in the ship. We offer one free cabin per 20 cabins sold for any groups that go. Does not have to be a pastor. However, we need pastors to help lead the teams in these schools. There are several Christian cruises out there that offer just a vacation with NO MISSION opportunity. And that is fine. I see no problem with people wanting to take their family on a vacation in a Christian environment. Even if the people that put those Christian vacation cruises make money on them as their job, I have no issues with that. Our is just well….different.
Now back to Cruise with a Cause. We offer this cruise BELOW COST. We offer a missions opportunity and yet we seem to get criticized. SO I would like to give you some details.
We have done 3 of these efforts. Our first effort saw 1700 children accept Christ. Our ministry lost $1.2 million. A private donor paid off that debt and a loan that I had taken out to start the ministry and said let’s do it again. Our last effort to Nassau, Bahamas saw 10,268 people accept Christ. The team that led the follow up which included over 100 churches have seen incredible results in the schools and the prison. In crusade evangelism, there is a statistic called a sticking rate. That is defined by those who make a decision for Christ that are active in church a year later. Standard “Sticking rates” are around 3% – 5%. The sticking rate from our previous mission efforts is about 59%.
Or you could ask Andrew who was led to Christ on our 2nd mission to the Bahamas. He was 16 and both parents deceased. He was sleeping on the floor at his brother’s home. He had had both jaws broken by bullies over a $1 bus fare because he was smarter than them. The lady who led Andrew to Christ legally adopted him as both her kids were raised. Ask Andrew if this is a “real mission.” When you ask him about it, all he says is, “Isn’t God Amazing?”
You see we put a year and half our lives into this mission. We sacrifice time with our families to do this Kingdom work and we have at risk everything we have a whole lot more in faith that God will continue to provide.
B) THE MISSION
You said that our mission is questionable at best…Did you know that 90% of Christians have never shared their faith with ANYONE? Well, we surveyed people on our last cruise. Of the non church staff on the ship, over 90% of them had never been on a mission trip. Of that 90%, over 75% led someone to Christ for the VERY FIRST TIME. That is worth the whole trip to have more people active in sharing their faith. Another case in point, my pastor watched as his 7 year old some led someone to Christ for the very first time. How about that? Questionable now?
I see you have one of our videos posted on your blog. How about posting this one where some of the pastors in the Bahamas comment on the impact that was made and still being made there?
You see some people do not believe it is a “real mission trip” as you call it unless you are sleeping with bugs in a hut. Well, if sleeping in a hut with bugs is your mission, that is a stupid mission. Your mission is your purpose. Our purpose is to do as the Minister of Education in Jamaica said, “Show the world what will happen if a country turns its schools over to Jesus.” I have seen people go on “real mission trips” as you call them and never witness to anyone. So what is the mission of the church? I thought it was to build the Kingdom of God by reaching the lost. Interesting.
We will be sharing the Gospel in 200 schools with 133,000 students. PLUS sending teams into the 4 largest prisons.
C) I WANT TO ADDRESS YOUR COMMENTS ABOUT OUR LINEUP:
You mention Johnny Hunt and Josh McDowell and then imply some of our speakers are not decent… Jesus yes JESUS said in John 17:23 that WORLD would KNOW that GOD sent HIM through the UNITY of the CHURCH. JESUS went on to say that by our UNITY that THEY would KNOW that GOD LOVES THEM the SAME WAY that He LOVES JESUS.
You see I do not agree with everything that every preacher preaches and even in our lineup. However, we can all lock arms around winning the lost to Jesus Christ. In fact, when I spoke to Pastor Johnny about our lineup, his statement was that he can lock arms with people who want to lead others to Christ. We are breaking down racial, denominational, and social barriers to see MULTITUDES SAVED per that principle that Jesus prayed in John 17.
Here are a copy of our core beliefs that every speaker on our lineup is in agreement which is posted on our website:
1. Triune God – Matthew 28:19 – we believe in one God who exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son & Holy Spirit
2. Bible as the perfect Word of God – 2 Timothy 3:16 – The entire Bible is inspired by God, without error and is the authority on which we base our faith, conduct and doctrine.
3. Jesus as the only Way to heaven – John 14:6 – Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to this earth as the Savior of the world.
4. Salvation through Grace alone, not works, and faith in the finished Atonement of the Cross. Romans 11:6 – Jesus died on the cross, shed His Blood for our sins and rose again. Salvation is found by placing faith in what Jesus did for us on the Cross.
D) JAMAICA – You talk about us getting off of a cruise ship to minister and then getting back on.
I would like for anyone to please inform me of a more cost efficient way to get 2500 people to Jamaica, feed them house them, and provide a place for training? Don’t bother looking…You won’t find it…plus they get fed on the way there not to mention having quality time with their families on board. It is amazing to see families doing mission work together.
That said, please understand that Jamaica invited us to come. We have over 200 churches as a part of this network along with Campus Crusade for Christ and YWAM in Jamaica. Josh McDowell and I will be headed to Jamaica later in March to host a conference for the school and church leaders to begin the organization for follow up. As far as us coming on a cruise ship, they welcome this. This ship would have gone to Mexico had we not chartered it. The majority of income in Jamaica is from tourism. We are actually sowing into their country by bringing people on a cruise ship who will spend money.
PLEASE READ THE ATTACHED LETTER FROM THE JAMAICAN LEADERS INVITING US.
Dear Dr. Dunaway,
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus – just to take Him at His word; just to rest upon His promise; just to know “Thus saith the Lord…”
The massive impact which Cruise With a Cause will have on the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ here in Jamaica, will have been unprecedented by any other gospel event which we have had here before as the outline of the day’s activities and the line up of artistes is quite impressive.
This mission will have greatly impact this country because you have a concerted desire to impact ALL our children. Without indicating names, several ministries have come to Jamaica but for varying reasons, unknown to us, they have not included our people and our leadership. They have brought their own missions and objectives. As a result this has limited the initial and lasting impact of these efforts.
When I heard what PraiseFest did in the Bahamas, I knew it had to come to Jamaica.
You have said that you are praying for 40,000 to be saved in June 2011, but I believe that number to be low as I am believing for over 60,000.
One of our government leaders said, “We want to show America what can happen when a nation gives its schools over to Christ.”
The need here is great. The harvest is ready. There are many misconceptions about the needs here in Jamaica. Our people need Jesus. They need to hear the Gospel. Our children desperately need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Righteousness must be held up high as a lamp for all to see. This can only happen when the Gospel is preached and the transforming power of God’s word pierces the hearts and mind of the people.
Our leadership team here is praying aggressively for this effort to be birthed and to bear fruit to the glory of God. We look forward with great anticipation and excitement to see this mission come to our shores and will continue to pray for its tremendous success.
God bless you.
Yours in Christ,
Ms. Lorna Chambers
Chief Executive Officer
Dove Ministries International (Jamaica)
Jamaica has a vision to become a 1st World country by the year 2030. This can only happen if some cycles amongst their children are broken. When a person is saved they also get something even deeper. A purpose and value. Kids there often time grow up thinking of themselves as 2nd class. However, when we realize we are a child of God and He has a purpose for each of us it gives us value. We want the children there to understand they are valuable to God and that they can be used by God. This is the only way that can help Jamaica as a nation to change.
We need more people on this mission. We need about 1000 more to reach all of these kids. If you will email me directly at Matthew@PraiseFestMinistries.com and mention this blog we will offer this to you at BELOW COST prices.
We at TWW wish to ask for God's blessings on this ministry. We thank them for contacting us.