Good News - January 2023

COVER STORY 28 JANUARY 2023 Good News • South Florida Edition In 2023, Bob Hoskins, author, missionary and founder of OneHope, will celebrate 80 years of ministry with his son Rob Hoskins, OneHope president, continuing the vision God gave him to bring God’s word to every child. More than 1.9 billion children and youth have been reachedwith a relevant gospelmessage since the founding of OneHope in 1987 with plans to reach 138 million children and youth in 154 countries around the world this year. The child evangelist It all began for Bob at the age of seven when the eager little boy went forward during a special church service hungry to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. “I’d only been there a few moments when I fell prostrate under the power of the Spirit and for the next several hours. I don’t recall it as a dream or a vision. I felt myself being lifted out of my body and somewhere in the heavenlies Christ appeared to me, and for the next several hours took me on a vast journey.” Bob described it as “a long story of fighting with the Lord because he told me what He wanted me to do, and it wasn’t what I wanted to do. At the end I surrendered. I said, ‘Lord, I’m just a little boy. I don’t know how to preach.’And He said, ‘If you’ll go, I’ll go with you, and I’ll show you what to do.’” Imagine the dramawhenBob told his father hewas supposed to start preaching at age seven. “My father said, ‘No,whenyougrowup, then…’For threedays Iwas crying inmy room.And I saidwhywon’t you let me dowhat I promised Jesus? So, my father very wisely took time off to fast and pray, and the Holy Spirit spoke to my father and said, ‘Everything he told you iswhat I told him.You are to dowhat he tells you to do.’” Bobdescribes his father as a gangster. Raised in a homewith six siblings by a very abusive father, at the age of 16 Bob’s father threw his own father out of the house then had to support his siblings during the depression, so he built a still and sold illegal whiskey. Coming home froma party late one night, he and his wife saw some lights in a field andwent to joinwhat they thought was another party, only to discover a tent revival. Curiosity drew them in. “The very next night they returned and gave their hearts toChrist, received theBaptismof theHolySpirit, andayear later Iwasborn inaChristian home,” Bob saidwith emotion. “For I could have been born into a gangster’s home.” At the age of four Bob asked Jesus to come into his heart. “I started readingwhen I was five and by the time I was seven, I could read the entire Bible.” In retrospect thiswas perhapsGod’s preparation.After giving his first sermon at age seven inPonca City, Oklahoma, other churches asked him to come, and by the age of nine, they had moved to California and Bob was preaching to thousands every week. “Very soon because there were crowds, I had a lot of entrepreneurs, promotors trying to fasten themselves onto the ministry,” admitted Bob. “They referred to me as Little Bobby the Boy Preacher and the publicists called me the Miracle Boy Preacher, the Wonder Boy Preacher. His vocabulary is astounding. His knowledge of the word is amazing. They had all kinds of superlatives in the advertising.” Global missionary Bob travelled across the USAuntil he was 18. “Then the Holy Spirit toldme to go towhat was then British Guiana. I didn’t even know where it was, but miraculously God opened the door.Within a fewweeks I ended up there andGod sent an incredible revival. By the third night wewere in a stadiumpreaching to 30,000 people a day for sixweeks. It was the founding of the Assemblies ofGodChurch inGuiana, which is one of the largest indigenous churches inGuiana. Continuing in missionary evangelism, Bob went toAfrica andAsia. He married his wife Hazel, and they traveled around theworld together. “ThenGod began to burdenme for theMuslimWorld, andwhenRobwas about threemonths old, wemoved toBeirut Lebanon to establish a base of evangelism in the Middle East,” Bob said. Reaching theMiddle East Ministrywasmore challenging and required a different approach inMiddleEast. His initial attempts at a crusade drew much smaller crowds. Then an opportunity to preach to the Arab world onTVwas presented. However, Bob said, “When the first showaired, the place exploded, and the government said you cannot have religion onTV.My programwas cancelled, and I said God, why did you bring me here? I’m an evangelist. I’m a preacher. And I can’t go to Saudi Arabia. I can’t go toAlgeria. I can’t conduct crusades in those cities. Why am I here?” After scouring the Koran, Bob found Jesus within its pages and created a set of literature pieces that reintroduced people to Jesus beginning with the Muslim book. These were sent out in the mail and within a few years there were 400,000 people in 26 Arabic countries studying those materials. When these people turned to Christ, they were discipled through the “cassette church.” This was in the 1960s. Bob built a studio in Beirut and recorded full church services. “We would send them a cassette and say bring some friends into your home and share this with them. Now there are hundreds of churches, who never saw a missionary, in North Africa, the Middle East, and one of the strongest movements still in Iraq was established through the cassette church.” In 1976 Bob was targeted by a terrorist group that considered him an agent of the Israelis. Seeing this as a hindrance to the church, he evacuated his family to the south of France. Bob would travel back and forth, until one day he returned to find their apartment and car had been blown up. His son, Rob, was 11 years old at the time. Bob’s son, Rob was born in Maine where his mother Hazel’s family were pastors. “She had a rich faith heritage, and I think that’s what my dad saw in mom, just an incredible woman of theword and prayer. Her father was a pioneer church planter inNewEngland and inCanada. We were just there for me to be born, and I was late. They had to induce labor on me so dad could return in time for the crusade. I was literally thrust onto the mission field. Three months after being born inMaine, I spent the first 11 years of my life in Beirut,” explained Rob. Rob remembers being evacuated and said, “these stories are the soil in which his seeds of faith have grown into the trees of what we are as OneHope today.” Forced to leave Lebanon, they were refugees and initially moved to San Jose, California, where theywere received by his uncleswho had a church there. “Dadwas still trying tomanage the church that was in crisis because of the war, so he went back to Lebanon. That’s when we found out the house and everything we owned was gone and dad was being targeted by this group. One night I remembermymom told us shewaswoken up in themiddle of the night. She said, I’m not sure why, but we need to pray for dad.” They later discovered that while trying to salvage their mother’s piano out of the rubble, FromChild Evangelist toGlobal Missionary, OneHope Founder BobHoskins Recounts 80Years ofMinistry withHis Son RobHoskins Shelly Pond Good News Editor Bob Hoskins and Rob Hoskins Photo credit: Justus Martin