I was 18 years old, just graduated from high school, and sitting in an outdoor stadium with 4000 other high school students at the C&MA youth conference, LIFE 83. The president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance was giving the message that night. I remember that it was HOT… it had been hot all week long, and it had been a long day… and now I had to listen to what I was sure was going to be a long and boring message.
Dr. L.L. King was president of the C&MA at the time. In his late 70’s, Dr. King had a dry monotone voice, that I was sure was perfectly designed by the Creator for the purpose of lulling people to sleep. To say that he was out of his element while speaking to 4000 teenagers was beyond the pale of understatement.
That night, he actually kept his head down as he read his message word from word from a manuscript… rarely even lifting his eyes to engage his audience of restless teenagers. But even though the delivery was far short of charismatic… he had my attention. I listened to him tell story after story of people who had forsaken everything to take the gospel to the unreached peoples of the world.
How the first C&MA missionaries were sent in the late 1800’s to Africa, China and Asia, and just a handful of years later their graves were the only remembrance of their sacrifice. Yet despite disease and death, more and more people answered the call of Dr. A.B. Simpson to leave the comfort of home for the proclamation of the Gospel. The command to go and make disciples had been answered by many, yet still there was much work to be done.
At the end of his message, Dr. King looked up and finally made eye contact with us. And in a voice now quivering with emotion he said, “Young people, I call on you to continue the work begun so long ago so that souls might be saved!” Then he turned and walked off the stage.
Just a few moments later the emcee of the service invited teens to come forward to the front of the stadium if they felt like God was calling them to continue the work begun so long ago, and my feet barely touched the ground as I responded to that challenge.
Honestly, my life-course of proclaiming the Gospel has been much different from what I pictured it would be that summer night in July of 1983. I really thought God had plans for me in another country… that spoke another language… with an entirely different culture, but that was not what he would ask me to do — and there is a part of me that mourns that loss — but since that night I have been determined to do what I can to see that Jesus is known to the world.
Folks, if you are part of the Church of Jesus Christ you have a calling… a mission… a directive from Jesus Christ, himself… to MAKE JESUS KNOWN. We all have a role to play. Some are called to pray. Some are called to give of their resources. Some are called to send. And some are called to go. What would God have of you? As Dr. King would say if he were still alive today, “I call on you to continue the work begun so long ago so that souls might be saved!”