Let me tell you a story.
In the spring of 1998 a young preacher was in his second semester of Bible institute at a local church. In the class on Biblical Counseling a guest speaker from a local Mission was invited to speak. The small class enjoyed hearing the seasoned minister talk about his years counseling couples, professionals, soldiers and civilians. After the class the young preacher and the guest speaker talked for nearly an hour after the class ended. The older minister took a liking to the young preacher and invited him to preach that weekend at his Mission.
The preacher eagerly accepted the invitation. He had been preaching for only 5 or 6 months and was anxious for any opportunity to preach the Gospel. He had preached in Nursing homes, at one small church, and even in his backyard at a picnic he held just to get the chance to preach. He grew up the grandson of a Baptist preacher. He had rededicated his life to Christ just a few years before this night. Immediately he felt the call to preach. His style came naturally after a few misfires. One night at a Rescue Mission for the homeless the fire fell, and he found his preaching voice.
Saturday night came and the young preacher and his wife left their young boys with a relative and drove to the mission. It was a wonderful place that had been presenting the Gospel to a very specific demographic for 46 years. The Mission had a kitchen where volunteers were making soup and sandwiches for a fellowship after the Gospel service. A large dining room was on the other side of the serving counter. Between the Kitchen and the Chapel room was a living room with a big TV and comfortable couches and recliners for the guests to relax in after the evenings activities.
The young couple were led into the chapel area and sat in the front row. The attendees at the Chapel service made their way in. They were all close in age, all men, all active in service to their country. A short song service and it was time for the young preacher to speak.
He spoke from Ephesians 2:8 & 9 about the need of salvation and the futility of works to gain it. He delivered his message passionately. This night he had holy unction. At the end of his sermon he asked all attending to bow their heads and close their eyes. He invited the men to come to Christ, even offered a suggested way to pray and receive Christ. When he finished he asked if any had called on Jesus that night, and if so, would they raise their hand to acknowledge this?
Two hands raised and his heart leaped. He turned the service over to the old master sergeant who had presided over the song service. The sergeant called out the two soldiers and asked them if they meant it, did they really accept Christ this night? They responded yes and were ordered forward. They obeyed and were counselled by workers waiting for the opportunity. The young preacher wept into his wife’s arms, overwhelmed that this night, for the first time, the Lord had used his preaching to bring not one, but two souls into the Kingdom.
The young preacher and the older Missionary would become good friends in the following years. 10 years after that fateful night the two met for lunch and the young preacher, now a seasoned church planter and pastor was offered a position on the older Missionary’s Board of Directors. 7 years after that he was offered the older Missionary’s position upon retirement.
And that is how, in September of 2015 I was offered and accepted the Call of God to leave the pastorate and become a missionary myself, replacing my good friend Walt Croom as the General Director of Military Evangelism.