The King Circus
In my ministry, I’ve used a lot of strategies to reach people with the gospel of Christ. One that I’ll never forget was a unique collaboration that resulted on the day the circus came to town.
In 1983, the King Circus came to Chota. One Sunday afternoon on my way home from Sunday school, I went through the Plaza de Armas toward my house and I spotted three brothers selling Christian books and handing out tracts. This caught my interest and I went up to talk to them. They told me they worked for the King Circus.
The next day, I went to visit the circus and met with the owner Aurelio Diaz and he told me, “I am a Christian, baptized by water, me and my whole family. I accepted Christ in Andahuaylas on one of my trips with the circus.”
I invited him to visit me one afternoon.
The next day there was a knock on my door and it was the brothers from the King Circus. My wife invited them to have some coffee.
Brother Aurelio then said, “Pastor, if you would like, we could have an evangelistic service this week, using the circus tents.”
I said, “Amen!” and we set the date for the upcoming Friday. That Thursday in the circus performance, they invited the crowd to return the next day for the service and a free performance. The people came on Friday to see the clowns, but that wasn’t the main attraction that night – we had the Word of God that transforms lives to share with them as well.
The tent opened to the public just before 7:00 p.m. and it filled quickly. At the beginning of the service, the clowns went out with musical instruments and we all sang praise choruses accompanied by the clowns. After the message, we invited people to accept Christ and four young ladies came down from their seats. They were students preparing to be teachers. That night they accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Later, Brother Aurelio asked me, “Pastor Zamora, would you like to come to Lajas and preach again with the circus?” Lajas was a small community about 30 kilometers away with a population of about 1,500.
I was so happy to be invited. Again, I responded, “Amen, Brother!”
We organized the program for the following Monday and at the circus performance the Sunday night before, they invited everyone to return the next night for a free program. On Monday, I traveled from Chota to Lajas with another brother and I found everything ready at the circus.
When we arrived, the circus tent was already full of people – people had come from all around the surrounding area of Lajas to attend this free program. Upon Brother Aurelio’s request, everyone in the circus who knew how to play any instrument participated that night in the singing.
I stood in the center ring and we began the service singing praise choruses to the Lord. All the clowns and other circus performers had their instruments and followed along in a big musical session for Jesus. It was truly a party for Christ. After singing, we prayed and then I took up my Bible and began to preach a brief sermon entitled, “The Universal Flood.” After the message I invited the audience to accept Jesus as their Savior, and I asked for those who would like for me to pray for them to raise their hands. Fifteen people raised their hands. Then I asked if they would come forward and from different parts of the audience people came forward to the center where I stood. There they got on their knees and we prayed together as they gave their lives to Jesus and confessed their sins. That night I saw the glory of God in action.
At the end of that service, a tall, thin young man, one of those who had come to the center and prayed for salvation, came up to me and said: “Mr. Preacher, I was a perverse man and almost a murderer. I fought even with my family. Every Sunday when I came to town I would fight anyone I met and every Sunday I would get thrown in jail for public disturbance. Now I belong to Christ. Tonight my mother, father and I all accepted Jesus as our Savior.” The young man was very happy that Jesus had come to live in his heart. He went on, “I would like you to come visit my house because I have a very large family and they have to hear the Word of God.”
I just stood looking at the young man and finally said, “When would you like for me to come?”
He replied, “Tomorrow.”
I said, “Okay, tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. I’ll be in the plaza next to the police station. I’ll see you there.”
“I’ll bring you a horse to ride because I live way back behind the mountains,” he said.
“No, that’s okay, I can walk,” I replied. “You don’t need to bring a horse.”
That night I went back to Chota and the next morning, Udelia made me a lunch and then I headed out on foot at 7:00 a.m. to get to Lajas in time to meet Juan, the young man from the circus. I got to Lajas two hours later and found that Juan already had been waiting for an hour.
We walked along the road that goes to the coast for about 30 minutes when Juan finally said, “Pastor, do you see those people on top of that hill over there? That’s my home and they are my family.”
We left the main road and went up the mountain to his house. When we arrived, there were 15 people waiting to have a Bible study. They all shook my hand. At that very spot, I opened my Bible to John chapter four. After the lesson, we prayed. The whole experience was new to these people.
The title of the lesson I presented that day was, “The Necessity of Salvation for Eternal Life.” They listened to the Word of God as they sprawled out on the grass and others sat on rocks or tree trunks. After 30 minutes of presenting the gospel, I invited them to accept Jesus as their savior; 10 of them confessed their sins and accepted the Lord Jesus.
I was elated that in two sermons and two days, God had added 25 people to his church – a true testimony of the wonderful power of God. Jesus does miracles, transforming souls with his power and grace – even those of people who are tired of living.
I spent the rest of that day with the new Christians, answering their questions, and that afternoon I returned home.