Dick Eastman never intended to travel the globe 100 times with the gospel of Jesus Christ—he actually wanted to practice law. But when he was 20, Dick says, God gave him an almost unbelievable prophetic promise in his prayer closet about millions of souls coming into the kingdom through his ministry—and he’s been legislating in the courts of heaven for the lost ever since.
“When God spoke, I thought it was my imagination at first,” Dick told me, recalling the 1964 experience. “The first person I thought of was Billy Graham. I asked the Lord if I was going to have a ministry like Billy Graham’s and—this was one of the first times I really heard the Lord speak—He told me a million souls would be prayed into the kingdom.”
Nevertheless, Dick set what would become a nation-shaking prophetic promise on the shelf because “it seemed preposterous.” After college, he worked with Christian youth in Wisconsin before heading to California to minister in the Jesus Movement. During the outpouring that brought in an overwhelming harvest from the hippie counterculture, Dick, 72, says God told him in 1971 to start planting what he calls “prayer corps.” These prayer corps were predecessors to the 24/7 International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri.
“I’d go to youth conferences and encourage young people to give a year of their lives after high school—and raise their own support—to come to our prayer center in Sacramento and pray day and night for the nations. That’s how our ministry began,” says Dick, international president for Every Home for Christ. “Over four years, God gave us 100 young people that never stopped praying a special prayer we called ‘the gap’ based on Ezekiel 22:30. They prayed in shifts. I still remember the night the Lord told me to call the world to prayer. I had no clue there would be a literal aspect of this, but I claimed the year 1971 would be the start of winning 100 million souls for Christ.”
Calling the World to Prayer
Nor did Dick have any clue that Jack McAlister, founder of Every Home for Christ, an international missions organization dedicated to the Great Commission, was watching his work. When McAlister charged Dick with taking his prayer corps model to the nations, he joined Every Home for Christ and launched a Change the World School of Prayer that within a few years gathered people from more than 100 denominations to teach prayer.
That was 40 years ago. Since then, over 3 million people in 120 nations—including the likes of Mike Bickle and Lou Engle—have participated in Dick’s prayer schools. His book, The Hour That Changes the World, has sold 1.5 million copies globally.
In 2010, Dick, who also serves as the president of America’s National Prayer Committee that organizes the National Day of Prayer, saw his prophetic declaration come to pass. Every Home for Christ reported over 100 million responses to its gospel campaigns. The ministry has planted more than 3.6 million gospel messages from home to home worldwide since 1946, resulting in more than 139 million follow-up decision cards.
“For the Great Commission to be fulfilled literally, the church must go where people live. Every Home for Christ has precisely this vision, already conducting systematic, house-to-house literature campaigns,” said the late Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, now Cru. “Per dollar investment, there are few opportunities that can match the distribution of evangelical literature.”
Reaching Every Home for Christ
The strategy is simple: Everybody lives somewhere, so missionaries go door to door and systematically share the gospel home to home, using Christian literature. In the past four years, the ministry has reached over 400 million homes and followed up to disciple over 70 million people who have responded to the gospel through these tactics. Currently, more than 1 million people are responding every month—and it’s all undergirded in intercessory prayer.
Patrick Johnstone, co-author of the prayer and reference guide Operation World, warns not to underestimate the power of Christian literature in the quest to win souls for Jesus. “Some reckon that over half of evangelical Christians attribute their own conversion, at least in part, to Christian literature,” Johnstone says. “Here I will only describe what I regard as the most globe-covering literature vision the world has ever seen—that of Every Home for Christ. The vision is very simple, but its outworkings have had extraordinary coverage and impact.”
Of course, living up to its name—reaching every home for Christ—is a daunting task. But it’s a labor of love for Dick, who has seen God move in ways he could hardly believe 50 years ago. Although many people are not home when missionaries come calling, they can leave gospel tracts behind and rely on their prayers and the power of the Word on the printed page to plant the seeds of salvation.
“Dr. Bill Bright once told me that if God gave him superhuman strength so he could go to every home on Earth physically and speak for an hour about Jesus or go to every home on Earth and leave a very clear presentation of the gospel in print, he would choose the latter,” Dick says. “When you leave the printed page, the Holy Spirit can speak to people anytime a person picks it up.”
Dick has found this to be true, especially in less developed nations—even if it takes decades for the seed to take root. People respond in one of two ways to the Every Home for Christ’s gospel literature: Lost souls either (1) read the message, pray the prayer to accept Christ and check a box on the card asking for material that helps them understand what to do next or (2) check a box on the card asking to know more about Christ. That means a response is not necessarily a conversion but Dick has heard enough testimonies to see the ripple effect.
Here’s just one example: An Every Home for Christ director in Zambia went to visit the bishop of a denomination there to garner his support for the ministry’s gospel campaign in the nation. It turned out that this bishop, who oversees 100 churches, was saved through the ministry’s tracts in 1972. Dick is sure there are countless such stories he’s never heard.
“As I have traveled around the world, I have become convinced that one of the greatest needs in the missionary enterprise is to scatter the gospel by the printed page in every part of the world, something that is central to the work of Every Home for Christ,” says evangelist Billy Graham. “May God continue to bless Every Home for Christ.”
Planting Home Churches for Christ
Reaching every home for Christ is not enough. Discipleship is a key focus of the ministry, which started forming Christ Groups—baby New Testament church fellowships—in 1965. From 1965 until 2014 (the latest statistics available) Every Home for Christ has planted over 217,000 Christ Groups, making it one of the most rapidly spreading church movements in the world—and it all started with prayer and gospel literature.
“We need to dedicate our lives to those things that are eternal,” says David Green, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby Stores. “I don’t know of any ministry I have been involved with that is doing this better than Every Home for Christ.”
Perhaps that’s because Every Home for Christ is founded on three unalterable convictions. The first is that believers must take the Great Commission literally. Jesus clearly commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15).Every Home for Christ goes home to home so the ministry can measure how effective it is at fulfilling its part of the Great Commission. The second conviction is unity.
“Without unity, the task is impossible,” Dick says. “One denomination, one ministry, one organization—no matter how strategic they may think they are—can’t fulfill the Great Commission alone. We’ve got to unite together. We’re looking for cooperation that emerges out of unity, not necessarily agreeing on every fine point of theology. We just need to believe that Jesus is Lord and that Jesus is the only way to salvation and can transform lives.”
The third conviction is where the power comes from: believing prayer will remove all obstacles. Dick describes these convictions as the main thing (the Great Commission), the necessary thing (unity) and the key thing (prayer). Without any one of the three convictions, the strategy will not bear abundant fruit that remains. Still, there are challenges, and Paul the apostle outlined the root of resistance in 1 Corinthians 16:9: “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.”
“All over the world you see movements like ISIS,” Dick says. “There’s tremendous opposition to the gospel in some regions of the world, and some believe persecution is greater today than ever. There is a vast array of obstacles in the way, especially when our workers are in remote areas going into villages where, in some cases, there has literally never been a Christian presence.”
Depending on the power of literature, Every Home for Christ has established mobile printing shops to help get Bibles into the hands of new converts. The ministry also deploys mobile training centers—Bible schools manned by two teachers with materials to equip the saints to live for Christ and do the work of the ministry in their area. Every Home for Christ has 413 mobile training centers that each train 85 leaders a month. Statistics like that amaze onlookers.
“Dick is one of the most outstanding and perhaps least-heralded Christian leaders in the world today as measured by his walk with God, as measured by the results of the ministry he’s headed up—and not just in terms of causing people come to know Christ but actually seeing lasting and multiplying fruit,” says Paul Cedar, chairman of Mission America Coalition, a coalition of Christian leaders who have united to mobilize the church for praying, caring and sharing the gospel. “I am amazed at the work of Every Home for Christ.”
Praying the Walls Down
Again, prayer is the key thing. Dick says Every Home for Christ has seen its efforts multiplied by the millions since he launched the Jericho Center for Global Evangelism—the international headquarters for Every Home for Christ and other Christian ministries—in 2003. The Jericho Center fosters continual prayer for the nations and unity in the body of Christ as it works toward fulfilling the Great Commission.
“The idea is to bring together coalitions of different ministries that are involved in the Great Commission and cover them in prayer,” Dick says. “We started praying day and night.”
From the Gap Prayer Room, intercession is lifted up to heaven six days a week. Inside the Watchman Training Center is the Watchman Wall, which serves as a symbol that aims to inspire intercession. There are 12 small rooms within the wall called prayer grottos where up to five people can make intercession using prayer and worship tools. Meanwhile, the Harp and Bowl Prayer Rooms are dedicated solely to prayer, and the Watchman Training Center hosts large prayer and worship gatherings, the monthly school of prayer and a weekly commission service.
The impact of adding more prayer hours and equipping has been staggering. From 1946 to 2003—a 57-year period—Every Home for Christ saw 59 million salvation responses. From 2003 to 2015—a 12-year period—the ministry received 131 million responses. The church-planting effort also multiplied. From 1965 to 2003, 29,000 Christ Groups were formed. From 2003 to 2015, 181,000 Christ Groups launched. In the last six years in particular, the ministry has seen over 20,000 new groups established in the nations.
Bringing the Gospel Home
Now, after focusing on the nations of the Earth for decades, Dick is laying out a plan to target America.
“Two years ago, the Lord began to speak to me about our culture and has put it in our hearts to launch an Every Home Campaign in the United States,” Dick says. “We’re laying strategic groundwork with the goal of mobilizing 60,000 churches.”
Indeed, because as Every Home for Christ missionaries go door to door, the local church will engage in follow-up. Dick’s team is breaking the United States into 17 zones and mapping every zip code. This all-important campaign will launch in 2016, at a time when many intercessory prayer leaders believe we’ll see a move of God hit America. Dick has also launched the American Center for Prayer and Revival, a hub designed for day-and-night prayer in Washington, D.C., with the sole focus of asking God for a spiritual revival.
As for Dick, he won’t stop praying. After walking prayer circles around the Supreme Court during oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby case—a religious liberty battle to protect Hobby Lobby and the Green family from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring the company to provide and facilitate abortion-inducing drugs in its health insurance plan—he asked the Lord what it would take to heal our nation. He says he heard Psalm 107:20: “He sent His word and healed them and delivered them from their destruction.”
“At that moment, I felt like the next great awakening is going to be engaging America with the Word of God,” Dick says. “Of course, the living Word is Jesus, so they have to get engaged with Jesus and what the Word says. That can only happen through a spiritual awakening. Programs don’t make that happen. It’s got to be supernatural.”
Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma, director of the Awakening House of Prayer, a senior leader of the New Breed Revival Network and author of many books, including The Next Great Move of God. Visit her online at jenniferleclaire.org.
Watch as Dick Eastman teaches how to engage in practical prayer that really works at eastman.charismamag.com.