An atheist, tech trailblazer, and a rock musician all in one, Phil Fischer never thought that one day he’d be leading his own Christian church and working to convert others.
But today, that’s exactly what he’s doing.
The founder of Jesus Lives, a nonprofit evangelical church based in Bellevue, Washington, Fischer’s road to conversion took one step at a time. But now, he’s taken an initial visit to a church and acted on his found calling to be a church leader himself.
Fischer speaks with his church members every week about the current times of turbulence, and how he believes they are part of a prophecy from Jesus called the Beginning of Sorrows. His goal is to make people aware of it.
At its core, the ministry of Jesus Lives revolves solely around love, and services are made to be as pure and genuine as possible. At the church, nobody on the team earns any money for their work or time. Fischer said this is what makes it a great church, as the motivations are positive and authentic.
Today, Jesus Lives holds services every Thursday and Saturday and has accumulated a steady congregation of dedicated Christians with Fischer as the main church leader. Its primary goal and mission are to provide Christians with information and knowledge regarding the world’s trying current times.
Years ago, Fischer might have thought the idea of starting a church was far-fetched at best. So what started such a dramatic transformation?
Early ambition and success
It was 1989 in Seattle when Fischer began to emerge as a leading voice in the tech industry. At the time, he was also a musical ghostwriter with a band named The XBox Boys and found success when their album hit number two on MySpace. He was feeling on top of the world and the thought of going to church, or talking about God at all, was the farthest thing from his mind.
But in 2001, he hit rough waters professionally and had to seek out a new path for his career. At the time, his potential new move involved cows and Canada. He was going to take the $200,000 that he had left and head up to the Yukon to raise cattle.
Fischer was all prepared to activate on his plan, but something happened to change his life – or someone. One evening, he met Jamael, who invited him to come to her church. He decided to go along with it, not totally convinced. However, after spending more time with Jamael and her very Christian parents, things began to shift.
A life transformed
Pretty soon, Fischer was a regular attendee of New Hope International in Bellevue, Washington with Jamael, who is now his wife.
One morning, Fischer heard a knock on his door at 6 a.m. It was Jamael’s father, who had come to invite him to a revival service at The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas. Still recovering from a night of drinking before, he wasn’t necessarily inclined to go, but eventually, he agreed.
At the service, he was approached by a woman who asked to lay hands on him and pray for him. It was then that Fischer really felt something for the first time – and that something, he said, was the Holy Spirit.
“My pounding headache disappeared,” he said. “My dry mouth stopped. I turned completely sober. Before, I assumed that churches and Christianity were all nonsense. But once I started going and experienced the revival, everything changed.”
When Fischer reflects on his past life pre-church, he firmly believes that he was entranced by the promises of the world – money, drugs, and material success – and it was causing him great harm. Today, he believes evil influences had led him down that path. But once he got off of it and began anew as a Christian, he saw a future where he wouldn’t just be attending church.
He would lead it.
Growing a church
Fischer wanted to take action for his calling, so in 2017, he inquired about beginning a Bible study at New Hope International. For the first few months, nobody came. But that didn’t stop Fischer from preaching and preparing. In fact, as people would pass by his empty room and ask what he was doing, he would simply say he was practicing.
The days of practicing paid off and Fischer went forth with another dream he had – starting his own church, which he named Jesus Lives.
People began coming to Jesus Lives, and one person in particular would become very important to the mission of the church – Julian Valentine. Then a bartender who, like Fischer, had been swept up in the ways of the world, Valentine said at first he didn’t believe in God.
“I wanted to believe in God, but at the time, I didn’t,” Valentine said. “I kept on coming to Jesus Lives and I began to see a new mission for myself.”
Even though it was full speed ahead for Fischer, the church wasn’t expanding initially as much as he’d hoped. In order to help grow the church, his mother-in-law recommended he go to the
Azuza Now revival in Los Angeles. Valentine accompanied him, and in order to prepare for the revival, they fasted on fruits and vegetables for 40 days.
During the revival, Fischer was taken aback when a Pastor from Bethel Church in Redding pulled him out of a crowd of 85,000 predicting that he would be “a father to the fatherless” and that his ministry would usher in a revival in the Pacific Northwest.
Sure enough, Jesus Lives started gaining traction, and more and more people began attending. Jamael and Valentine now also serve on the church’s leadership team.
Today, Fischer leads a religious revival in the Pacific Northwest, just as the pastor at Azuza Revival had previously said. Fischer said the Pacific Northwest region is a particular challenge, and he views it as the territory of the enemy.
“Our world is broken and riddled with evil,” he said. “I believe the sole way of seeing the truth is to follow the path of Christ. At Jesus Lives, we don’t claim to be a religion. We’re simply a space where people can come and strengthen their faith.”
Right now, Fischer believes that many Christians feel stagnant in their current churches and are often conflicted or confused about what their missions in life are. All too often, people feel as if they must fit in and therefore forego their true spiritual desires. Sometimes, those callings are to lead churches.
“So many Christians have a calling to do more, and to be more than their churches will allow them to,” he said. “That was the case for me. I spent two decades in a church that ultimately wasn’t looking out for my interests.”
Despite all the speed bumps Fischer has encountered, perhaps it’s his favorite Bible verse that keeps him in perspective – “count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Fischer never believed he could live up to the calling of leading a church because of his checkered past, but now he clearly sees that his perspective may have been just what was needed to lead Jesus Lives.
“I used to be a sinful person, so I was unsure if I was worthy of leading a church,” he said. “I never thought that God would want to use me, of all people. But I see now that God uses whatever He has to bring people to Him.”