For Phil Fischer, the story of his church, Jesus Lives, is perhaps the defining one of his life.
Fischer tends to keep conversation casual and real, which makes his testimony all the more fascinating and credible. He desires strongly for others to meet him eye-to-eye and be aware of what he believes in a time of great change and turbulence, which he says is a prophecy from Jesus called the Beginning of Sorrows.
If someone had told him these things years ago, he’d probably, certainly scoff and dismiss them so how did an ex atheist, tech pioneer, and rockstar get saved and become a devoted Christian who runs a church with vocal enthusiasm and a desire to convert those who do not believe yet?
Driven from a young age
Fischer made a name for himself in the Seattle tech sector back in 1989 when he started Northwest Online, which was the 202nd website on the internet starting on Gopher. Northwest was known for building the first versions of many of today’s well-known sites such as AOL and Ebay.
Fischer started working in technology at a young age as a personal assistant for Steve Jobs getting coffee and picking up clients from the airport and shuttling them off to Apple or Next.
Armed with a wealth of knowledge and an impressive array of credentials, Fischer struck out on his own and it paid off. He began with website development, and since then, his agency has evolved into a high-in-demand roster of expert developers, coders, engineers, marketers and branding professionals.
During the same time, Fischer found success in music as a ghost writer, hitting the studio with several Seattle based grunge bands of the 90’s and early 2000’s writing several top ten hits.
Fischer released his own album Wounded Soul which found chart success and his album with The XBox Boys climbed to #2 on Myspace. Fischer even wrote a Christian Album before he came to Christ and both albums Chronicles of the Orb and New Believer each received millions of downloads respectively.
Looking back at his early success, Fischer said he can see now that there was a calling in his life, even though at the time he was unaware of it. But back then, he said if some well-meaning believer had invited him to a church service or a Bible Study, he would have blown them off. So when he experienced professional setbacks in 2001, he wasn’t inclined to see it as a wake-up call to be introspective. To him, it was an opportunity for a new career venture.
“I took $200,000, which is what I had left and cooked up this outlandish idea of raising cattle in the icy Yukon. I was going to install heated stalls for the cows,” he said. “I had it all figured out and it was all about me.”
But that plan was put on hold when Phil Fischer had an encounter that changed his life.
An unexpected conversion
Before Fischer could activate his plan to raise cattle and escape Seattle society which he has resented for a variety of reasons, God’s mysterious workings took effect.
One evening, Fischer found himself in downtown Kirkland, when he spotted a beautiful woman named Jamael—and he gave pursuit. Like most situations in his life, he saw this, and her, as another opportunity, but she threw him a curveball. She invited him to church.
He went, of course, assuming he could disabuse her of this Christian superstition once she fell under his charms in a week or two. But little did he know that both Jamael and her God-fearing parents would make it their mission to win Fischer to the Lord. He began attending their church, New Hope International, in Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle.
It all changed for Fischer when Jamael’s father, Neal Calkins took Fischer to a service at TD Jakes church in Dallas, Texas.
“Of course, I’d gone out drinking the night before. When he knocked on my door at 6 a.m. the next morning, I probably should have told him I was too hungover to go—in fact, still a little drunk,” he said. “So here I am at the revival, in the front row and trying to hold my puke, and this beautiful woman approaches me and asks, ‘Can I pray for you?’ She laid hands on me and, I swear, I felt the power of the Holy Spirit course through my body, starting with where she was placing her hands. It went into my head and removed my throbbing headache. Suddenly, my dry mouth was gone and I was sober as a judge.”
“See?” she told Fischer. “Now you’re right as rain.”
Fischer, whose favorite Bible verse is the beginning of James chapter 1, which starts by saying “count it all joy when you fall into various trials,” said he can see it now.
“God will use whatever He has to in order to bring you into the kingdom,” he said. “I had assumed Christianity was all B.S.—then I got hit with the Holy Spirit and I began seeing the world as it really is. We’re just souls walking around in bodies—only here for a brief moment—broken and battered and bruised. They don’t see we’re in a great struggle between good and evil until the Holy Spirit opens their eyes, as He did mine.”
For Fischer, he believed he had been deluded by evil forces, who told him to “build a search engine to manipulate the masses and I’ll make you rich. Smoke pot. Pop pills. Live the high life.”
But once his eyes were opened, his work and life gave way to an entirely new mission, and he now proudly refers to his business as a Christian company. He also began to lead worship at New Hope International.
“Everyone who gets on fire for Christ begins to serve somewhere and because of my music industry background, I started to serve on the worship team,” he said. But it didn’t stop there at worship music – it continued with the formation of a new church in Bellevue, Jesus Lives.
A new calling
After Fischer’s world turned upside down, everything’s purpose became about serving Christ. In 2017, he went to head pastor at New Hope and floated the idea of starting a small group or Bible study in an extra room at the church. Fischer was given permission to use the room, but for the first six months he often found himself just preaching to an empty room.
“What are you doing in here?” he said people would ask and they walked by.
“Practicing,” he’d reply.
That practice was for the bigger plan — a church. The idea was daunting since, as Fischer said, his region wasn’t particularly known for being receptive to Christianity and its teachings. Nevertheless, that didn’t scare or deter him. He decided to name the church Jesus Lives and when you hear the story it gets more interesting.
The domain Jesuslives.com was once owned by Anna Nicole Smith. After her death, her IT guy had moved from Eleuthera Bahamas to Seattle, had fallen on hard times and happened to hear Fischer preach at a tent city location and just gave him the domain name, and that’s how it started.
“There was this guy preaching in the mud with bare feet and I was like blown away. This guy is the real thing” said Evan who wishes his last name to be anonymous, “So I just gave him the domain”.
Eventually, a few came, among them Julian Valentine, a disaffected bartender looking to take his life in a new direction who now serves full time at Jesus Lives.
“I was working with Phil when he introduced me to Jesus Lives,” Valentine said. “I didn’t attend church at the time and really wasn’t interested, but I decided to give it a try and started attending. At the time I didn’t really believe in God, but I wanted to, so I kept coming hoping to see some change in my life. It has given me a new purpose to serve God and help others.”
He and Fischer hit it off, but the church wasn’t growing. After six months, Fischer’s mother-in-law suggested he attend the Azusa Now revival at the Coliseum in Los Angeles. He and Valentine fasted for 40 days on fruits and vegetables to prepare themselves spiritually for the revival.
At the revival, a pastor singled out Fischer in the audience. People laid hands on him and the pastor prophesied that revival would soon “break out” in the Pacific Northwest. He told Fischer that he would be a “father to the fatherless.”
“I felt the Holy Spirit touch me,” Fischer said. “But I was unsure because I was full of sin. I was drinking, watching bad programs. I didn’t think God would want to use me for something that epic.”
But, lo and behold, people began coming to Jesus Lives. Now, Fischer spearheads a charismatic religious revival in the Pacific Northwest, which he calls the most godless region in the contiguous United States—Enemy Territory, even.
“We live in a fallen world, a broken world, and the enemy has control over every single industry,” he said. “The only way to see the truth is to get set free by the blood of Jesus Christ. You could sit and argue with people for hours about Facebook posts, you can sit and argue with people for hours about things that are happening in the world that you can’t explain, but until you believe you will never truly know what is going on in the world.”
Jesus Lives today
Now a successful church, the mission of Jesus Lives is to inform and equip Christians with knowledge about the troubled times of the world. For Jesus Lives, it’s less about rigorous religious teachings and more about a spiritual relationship with God.
“We’re not a religion,” Fischer said. “We’re a place for people to come and deepen their faith and relationship with the Lord.”
The church holds services every Thursday and Saturday, with Fischer serving as the main church leader. His wife, Jamael, is also part of the leadership team at the church along with Valentine.
For Fischer, the biggest lesson he’s learned in starting and leading Jesus Lives is to not wait. He said that many people feel stuck in churches right now and are confused about what their destiny is, and they often put off their true calling or desires in order to fit a mold.
“Many people are stuck in churches right now that are unhappy,” he said. “I learned I was waiting 20 years in a church that wasn’t there to help me. Many people have such an anointing and such a calling on their life that even their own churches will keep them from breaking free.”
While many churches, particularly megachurches, have been criticized for their leaders lapping up large salaries, at Jesus Lives, it’s all about serving completely out of the love of Jesus Christ. No one is paid a salary.
“None of our teachers, none of our elders and none of our childcare staff are paid a dime and I have never earned an income from Jesus Lives,” Fischer said. “And I promise I never will take money from Jesus Lives.”
Fischer said this method keeps the service and worship experience pure and authentic.
“You’ll notice a difference in the anointing and the atmosphere,” he said. “It’s hard to serve Christ in this world, so when you see people all banding together to serve Christ and doing it for free, you know you’re in a good church.”
Looking to the future
As far as future plans for Jesus Lives, it’s mainly about continuing the mission and expanding. Right now, the church holds services on Thursday and Saturday evenings, with plans to add a Sunday service soon. Fischer said they’re also working on expanding their online presence and beginning to get live stream teams in place.
“The only way to truly stay faithful and have a relationship with Christ is to continue to attend a good Bible-based church,” Fischer said. “People need to get out of megachurches for the pastors who are driving Lamborghinis and making millions of dollars. People need to get back to the basics like churches that sprouted it up in the time of Paul where no one was paid, everyone serves for free, and the anointing is stronger than ever.”