Previously regarded as the most “unchurched” region in the nation, a local Christian aims to bring about revival in the Seattle area.
He doesn’t have a degree in Theology, he doesn’t fly on private jets and he doesn’t ask anyone for money, but he is bringing an original version of the gospel to Seattle’s downtown street population that is resonating, and his Eastside Thursday night ministry is growing rapidly with his honest and real approach.
Phil Fischer’s Thursday evening ministry, Jesuslives.com that sat empty for almost a year with no members at all but in January of 2018 people seeking something new slowly wade into a small room located inside of New Hope International Church in Enatai Bellevue. On a normal Thursday night you will find anyone from east-side millionaires to the homeless all coming to hear what they call a “Good word” from Fischer.
On Saturday evenings, it’s a completely different atmosphere. Fischer preaches the gospel to the homeless from a make-shift tent known as the “Jesus Tent” offering a gritty gospel that many are finding as a new and refreshing break the mega church message ringing through the airwaves.
According to Fischer, Jesus Lives is a non-profit, evangelical and grass roots ministry with the simple purpose of spreading the true word of God and ushering in, what Fischer calls “end-time revival.”
At the moment, Jesus Lives Eastside group meets in a simple room with an old school fireplace and some chairs set up. All are invited that want to be a part of the unconventional ministry. Phil invites people of all walks of life to attend and find enrichment in these weekly Bible studies which last about an hour and a half, and usually end with prayer and Pagliacci's pizza. His Thursday group meets in Bellevue, Washington but his Saturday group is hit or miss depending if Seattle pulls a permit or not allowing him to set up in public parks.
Fischer’s lack of focus on the traditional religious components of the mega churches and heavy emphasis on Christ and Christ’s teaching, have earned him the title of “revival rebel” with the more traditional Christians.
One of the unconventional approaches of the Jesus Lives ministry is the fact that no one serving in the group is paid a single dime. Members that serve (including Fischer himself and the worship team) as part of the Jesus Lives movement choose to dedicate their time and skills solely because of their love of Christ. Unlike many of today’s mega churches and revival movements that pay the pastors and worship teams money, the small ministry does not ask for money and according to Fischer, the ministry is funded by God and members run the ministry the way that Paul and the early church did: Free will offerings.
The people that serve at Jesus Lives want to serve as an example to others and their reward comes through preaching the Gospel which is how God intended it; something that many in Fischer’s group say is missing today.
Fischer’s amazing testimony and life alone in the wilderness has qualified him to see the struggles people face and give him a deep appreciation for the oppressed, for the people who are hurting, and the people who are struggling. The very people Fischer claims Jesus would go after.
Going to the streets of Aurora on Saturday nights
The startup ministry plans to hopefully retire the tent and message to the streets of Aurora with “Saturday night revival” services starting next summer or as soon as they can secure a location somewhere on the aurora corridor, preferably north of downtown Seattle, somewhere before Lynnwood.
The target demographic for these Saturday night weekly gatherings will be the oppressed, victimized, homeless, and anyone looking for guidance. Most are street kids and homeless whom Fischer says are the very people God will use to change the world. This is why Fischer has spent every free dime he has made in tech funding programs and meetings.
When reached by phone Fischer said, “We’re currently looking for a good space on Aurora at the moment that is affordable for us. It’s also important that the landlord would be willing to allow us to use the space for a church catering to the lost”.
The positive and unique manner that Fischer uses to spread the word of God has an addictive realness to it that many claim has been lost in large churches.
Fischer truly believes that every individual's relationship with God is a unique, spiritual, and divine connection from the moment Christ enters their lives. He feels that a relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship to invest in and he pushed his members to get “right” with the Holy Spirit and let go of the past, which for some is not easy.
While it's clear that Fischer is a natural-born leader and has a built a loyal following, he insists it’s all Jesus Christ.
Fischer bails on his music and tech firm
The well-known tech genius and former lead singer of “The X-Box Boys”, and remembered for his 90’s solo album “Wounded Soul,” Fischer retired from his vivid music career in 2014 and started Jesus Lives two years later in a small room at New Hope Church.
With his mission to bring “revival” to the Northwest, Fischer has been slowly winding down his software company and digital marketing firm that he launched in 1989 to pursue another unexpected passion of his: spreading the gospel in the most difficult field on earth: Seattle.
Fischer has made it clear to the Bellevue Chronicle that Jesus Lives will be his final life project and leading street people to Christ is very important because according to Fischer, “those are the very same people Jesus would of went after.”
Although he has left the music scene, he enjoys strumming the guitar in the peace of his home studio in Bellevue which he has carved out in his garage and his home is a magical walk through the decades of the 80’s and 90’s music scene.
His garage and part-time “Jam room” is decorated with old concert photos and backstage passes like the “Grateful Dead’s” April 24th, 1984 show in New Haven, Connecticut where Fischer hitchhiked from Dawson City, Yukon to attend. A more than 4,000-mile trek across country. Other musical relics in his home studio include the original 1964 Fender blackface twin reverb once owned by Jimi Hendrix, an old Wah-wah peddle used by Kurt Cobain in the early touring days of Nirvana, and a purple telecaster used by Prince.
His prized possession is a 1969 Black Les Paul Custom that Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page used with alternate tuning to track the hypnotic rhythm part of the song “Kashmir” at Headley Grange studios in Hampshire, England. However these relics now sit dusty in Fischer’s garage.
Raised in the wilderness
Born in 1968 on an airbase in Texas to a 13 year old mom hitchhiking to Alaska, Fischer spent his childhood growing up in the harsh wilderness of Canada and the Northwest Territories. Living within a group of traveling 60’s teens and 20 somethings, the group moved in and out of small native villages in the Yukon, and Alaska, Fischer attended several different elementary schools, but never made it past the eighth grade.
Fischer was raised by his “wilderness family,” who were a group of young society throwbacks, ex-Vietnam veterans, and hardcore hippies from the 60’s who fled the lower 48 during the Vietnam war to carve out a better life in the wilderness. The group would build community cabins near a water supply to make it through the winter, moving around from village to village surviving any way they could.
Fischer hitchhiked down to Portland at the age of 14 with a lifetime of experience and fell into the internet by chance, launching the world’s first web design firm at the age 17, which was site #202 loaded onto the ARCHIE platform.
The End-time Harvest
With first impressions and outward appearances so important these days, conventional Christians would take one look at Fischer and feel that they couldn't possibly relate or agree with him in any way, but the people that are attracted to Jesus Lives are more of the “real” types who Fischer can relate to including several members coming in from other churches to take a break from what they describe as a system that is dying.
Fischer does not fit in with the Eastside “Christian crowd,” and has always been a recluse choosing to follow the teachings of Jesus over the Christian rhetoric that dominates most of Christian life.
According to Nicole Miller, one of the original members of the group who now serves on the board of Jesus lives, Fischer is not alone.
“There are many evangelists for this end-time harvest, and I truly believe the people that God chooses to do the most amazing things aren't those that come from the typical Christian backgrounds. Instead, I believe they're usually those people who know what struggle is and come from the dark places that most people would avoid. I believe God chose Phil to spread the word in the Northwest because he is one of those people who have struggled and suffered in their lives in some way,” Miller said.
Miller continued, “He will be the first to tell you that he started off in a bad place. God’s people need to change and put things in perspective, and humble themselves, and come back to the Lord. Phil is just the messenger of that is delivering this to the very people that God wants to us to give this world one last chance.”
A small and intimate service
The community of Jesus Lives is full of great and dedicated people that come to hear the word and who are on fire for Jesus. Sometime there will be 20 people and sometimes there will be close to 60—it all depends on the night.
The group urges people on social media to simply come and stop by. They don’t care if you’re a regular churchgoer, someone who is curious, if you've never been to church, or if you want to get back in the swing of things—just show up. They don’t judge anyone or ask questions, they just want you to come in and get fed spiritual food.
Some people show up once to get through a crisis, others show up and change, while others attend regularly and stay hooked on the ministries main goal of ushering in end-time revival. Jesus Lives is a place for everyone to come, hear the word and feel the love from people that attend.
A typical service includes praise, worship, sharing, and a 30ish-minute sermon followed by prayer groups where the men and women separate into two groups. Afterwards there usually is Pagliacci pizza or Thai food depending on the night.
Julian Valentine, who came to Jesus lives when there was only two in attendance said “Jesus Lives and the members are passionately obsessed with Christ. We don’t, by any means, tone down our love and devotion for him and we don't tone down the spreading of the word. We don't sing in tune and we don’t hide our feelings while worshiping him. We can't help it! The Lord makes us excited and enthusiastic about him! All that we do is worship and spread the Gospel and this is the time to do it.”
Valentine continued, “Our dream at Jesus Lives is to bring true revival to Seattle, and then possibly to the world. We want to see thousands of people worshiping in all of Washington state and even worldwide. We want to usher in the presence of God anywhere it's needed, which starts right here in Seattle.”
Although Fischer’s Bible study is small and less than two years old, it’s a real word which is challenging people to rethink their approach to Jesus, their approach and purpose in life, and to divinely enrich themselves.
Services are Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. Their website is Jesuslives.com. They gather at 10808 SE 28th St, Bellevue, WA 98004.