October 8, 2012
Ten years ago, we launched a new group for The Master’s Program in Dallas. One of my new friends in that group wasn’t a “local;” he had driven up from Houston (250 miles each way; 4 hours on I-45, if you obey the limits) to be there. Over the next three years, he never missed a session.
We were in our 10th Session – in May of 2005 – when he asked a simple question: “Have you ever thought about bringing TMP to Houston?” I hadn’t; I knew no one there, but him. “Would you be interested?” If you know me at all, you know what my reply was. Interested? Sure. Hopeful? Not very.
He was like a teenager: give them an inch… It wasn’t long before an e-mail exchange began. He wouldn’t relent; we scheduled a date – the third week of September – for him to assemble some of his friends at the Houstonian Hotel for me to float the opportunity.
The week of that intro session, there were other things floating around Houston. Hurricane Rita came calling – landfall was September 25, 2005, just a month after Katrina devastated New Orleans – and over 3 million people evacuated. Our plans for TMP were washed out to the Gulf; I heard the Act of God as the voice of God, and I closed the book on Houston.
Two weeks later, I received another e-mail: “When could we reschedule?” My calendar was jammed; the week of Thanksgiving – that’s a calendar Death Valley for events – was all I had. He locked it, and I booked it. No one would come, would they?
I came… and so did a room full of likely suspects. They replied with interest, but we needed more to move forward. My Houston friend – now, graduated from TMP in Dallas – asked: “Could I come back for another introductory opportunity?” I checked my calendar; all I had was Valentine’s Day, three months later. He said, “Come;” with growing intrigue, I booked my travel for 02/14/06.
We launched that first group in Houston in Q2/2006. They graduated in Q1/2009. Dozens of key leaders from across the area were in that inaugural cohort; during their three years in TMP, God called Lloyd Bentsen – namesake son of the legendary Texas senator and vice-presidential candidate – to shift from venture capital to help launch the National Christian Foundation/Houston as its Executive Chairman. A contingent of those graduates joined forces to launch The Barnabas Group/Houston, in collaboration with NCF/H. The Master’s Program for Women has broadened our presence there; five waves of men in TMP have come to life in Houston since Hurricane Rita came calling…
Last Friday, I was back in Houston for an epic opportunity. The leaders there heard what happened in Orange County last January when the Issachar Summit (www.issacharinitiative.org) exposed ministry and marketplace leaders to the Big Picture: the reality of the Great Commission, the current status of world-wide penetration of people groups for the Kingdom, and the potential to finish the task in our generation. That day had incredible impact on the attendees. They invited us to bring Issachar to Houston. The Foundation, Barnabas, Master’s and many local ministries collaborated…
We recreated the Orange County experience with 300+ local leaders who were as impacted in eight hours as their California counterparts had been, ten months earlier. The day ended with the same question we posed in Costa Mesa: based on what you’ve heard, how much would you be willing to give or mobilize (from others, through your influence) between now and 2025 to bring faith to the remaining 3000 unreached people groups? Their anonymous replies were collected and tabulated. In January, 141 Californians said $4.65 billion. On Friday, there were 154 fine folks in Texas whose answer was $11.17 billion. Only God knows what will happen between now and 2025 (I expect to be here to see it, at 72).
This story connects some amazing dots over seven short years’ span. Where did it all come from? In May, 2005, Wade Mattingly asked me, “Have you ever thought about bringing TMP to Houston?”
Leaders push over the first vision domino, and what follows can be amazing. What could God use your influence to launch for His Kingdom?