By Paul L. Walker, Ph.D.
God is pouring out His Spirit in an unprecedented manner and revival is sweeping the land. God has called us together here that we might get a new word and a new voice for a new time to do a new thing and accomplish a new work for the kingdom of God.
We are all here today because of significant persons who have brought us to this particular time. The disciple God used to help me really understand the fullness of God was a Sunday school teacher in Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Volkmann was a former minor league baseball player. He was a big man, about 6’6″, weighing about 240. I can’t remember a thing he taught, but I remember the tears in his eyes.
Every Sunday he would call us to our knees and he’d cry and pray that God would use us for His glory and in His kingdom. Out of that class of 11 boys came seven Church of God preachers.
There is a need today for the kind of connection that makes us realize that every person who is born again by the Spirit of God, who is anointed by the Holy Spirit and filled with the power of God, is called to be an evangelist.
Over the holidays we took our grandchildren skiing in Utah. I’ve been an avid skier for a number of years. I happened to be skiing by myself one day and I was sharing a lift with a young man. On the way up the mountain the lift stopped for some reason. We sat there suspended in the air for about 20 minutes. We got to talking and I suddenly realized he was witnessing to me.
Finally he got down to the bottom line and asked, “Do you know Jesus Christ?” When I replied, “Yes, I’m a Church of God preacher and I’m filled with the Holy Ghost,” he nearly fell off the lift.
Then I asked him, “What are you?” He said, “I’m a Mormon.” Surprised, I asked, “How can you be a Mormon and witness like that?” He replied, “You don’t understand. I’m a Christian, but I’m a secret agent to the Mormons. I grew up a Mormon but I went away to college and found Jesus Christ. When I came back, I decided I’d stay in my Mormonism and be a secret agent for Jesus Christ. Now there’s a group of 17 of us young people who serve as secret agents. In the last year we have led 102 Mormons to Jesus Christ.”
We have only one reason to exist. We exist to do one thing and that’s to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and get the world ready for its greatest event, for Jesus Christ is coming soon.
The burden of my heart is to equip disciples for the 21st century. The Bible only uses the word Christian three times in the New Testament but it uses the world disciple 308 times. We’re not called to make Christians; we’re called to make disciples.
We have come from a year of emphasis on revival. Now we move into an emphasis on education. At the heart of education is making disciples. What we’re coming together to do in these first days of 1998 is to seek the Lord’s face and to provide resources to move forward to do just that—equip disciples for the 21st century.
Just this past weekend in Utah, I took our grandchildren on a snowmobile trip. Most of the group were Mormons. One of them said to our guide, a young man in his middle 20s, “How was your mission?” He replied, “I did my first mission in 1991. I went to Taiwan. I did my second mission in 1993. I went back to Taiwan and it was the most exciting, exhilarating, wonderful thing that I could have ever done.”
The man who gave the first skiing lessons to our grandchildren was a Mormon. He made the statement, “Among us Mormons, every person is an evangelist.”
Every person is an evangelist! The number one plague of our church today is spectatoritis. We come into our sanctuaries and say, “Entertain us, but don’t do it too long. I have things to do, places to go, and I don’t have much time.” But there will never be the revival God wants until we dedicate ourselves to being living, acting, breathing, evangelistic, Spirit-filled anointed disciples who say, “I don’t care how long it takes, God, I’m going stay here until I get the message, then I’m going to take the message everywhere I can, and we’re going to turn this world upside down.”
I went to high school in Beckley, W.Va. I walked to school practically every day for two years with a young man who played the other halfback on the football team. But I never once told him about Jesus Christ. After I got into ministry I got a burden for him and for two other young men that were good friends of mine. I couldn’t get them off my mind. I made a trip back to Beckley and called all three to lunch. I told them, “I failed. I knew the Lord but I didn’t tell you about Him. I want to witness to you now.”
Charles Wilson, the young man I walked to school with every day, looked at me and said, “Paul, how many hours did we spend together playing ball and walking to school? Why didn’t you ever tell us then?”
Then he made a statement I’ll never forget. “It’s too late now. I’ve become a confirmed agnostic.”
Well, I prayed much for him. Later I learned that he did become a Christian but that’s the last time I ever saw Charles Wilson. That’s why we are having this conference.
Many of us know someone we let slip through our fingers. We can’t do anything about that but we can do something about the future. That’s why we’re having this conference—to equip disciples for the 21st century.
Exercising vision is developing an understanding of where you are and where you’re headed—both as an individual and as an organization.