August 7, 2006
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank


Dear Marketplace Friend,

     In the media world, it's referred to as "on location." Their travels - and their reporting - take them to wherever the story is, to put it into circulation with the people who weren't there...  

     This summer, I think I'm living my life "on location." July's travels included stops in Atlanta (to speak at the Church of the Apostles, for my friend Michael Youssef), on to Baltimore (to direct the program for Franklin Graham's Festival, held at Camden Yards), then "across the pond" to Zambia (a site visit and consultation for Northrise University, a partnered-startup for The Barnabas Group), then 12 time zones west to join my family for a beach week in Hawaii (hey, it's summer... and even I get a break!). Back from Oahu for 36 hours, get behind the wheel to drive to Colorado... 

     All of that to put me "on location" in St George, Utah, last Thursday morning. St George is really "Latter Day Saint" George, demographically. Their first (and, only) Starbucks didn't open until last year. I was coffeeing-up for the last 700 miles of the drive when an older man came in, went up to the counter, and said to one of the young women in green aprons: "Hey, you look like one of my granddaughters. Are you one of my granddaughters?" She giggled and said, "No! How many grandchildren do you have?" His response was immediate: "Fifty-seven!" 

      In a culture like Southern Utah, there are all kinds of possibilities in that family dynamic. That's not the point here, however. The unexpected discovery, as I was distracted from my USA Today, was just this: it is possible to have so many "kids" in your successive generations that you can be surprised by running into them unexpectedly! 

     That's a human, earthbound dynamic that is interesting. But it becomes even more interesting when it is experienced among the heavenly Family that will be living together in Paradise! 

     Jesus described the relationship of faith in family terms, and compared it to earthbound relationships. Joining the family is what he called being "born again;" once that happens, one becomes the child of the Heavenly Father. In surrogate terms, it's possible to "have children" on a spiritual level; in fact, even Paul referred to some of his young protégés as his "sons in the faith." 

     In 1858, a Boston Sunday School teacher named Edward Kimball began visiting one of his students at the shoe store where he worked as a clerk; it was there that he led him to Christ. That student's name was D.L. Moody. Twenty-one years later, Moody, now an evangelist, visited London, and a great spiritual awakening took place. F.B. Meyer, a local pastor, went to hear Moody, and his life was transformed. Later Meyer went to America to preach, and in one of his meetings a student named J. Wilbur Chapman got saved. Chapman became active in the YMCA, where he met and discipled a former baseball player called Billy Sunday. Billy Sunday became a great revivalist, and in one of his crusades in Charlotte, a group of businessmen came to Christ. A year later they decided that their city needed another crusade, so they invited Mordecai Hamm to be their speaker. After 3 weeks Hamm left town, discouraged because he'd only had one convert: a 12 year-old boy called Billy Graham! The cumulative evangelistic results of Mr. Graham's ministry is probably impossible to measure, but it's safe to say that millions are now in faith because of his ministry. 

     Kimball −> Moody −> Meyer −> Chapman −> Sunday −> (businessmen in Charlotte) −> Hamm −> Graham. There's a lineage that is amazing... and it all started with a "layman" in Boston, nearly 150 years ago, who took his "Sunday School teacher" position seriously...  

     There's a lineage that is amazing... and it all started with a "layman" in Boston, nearly 150 years ago, who took his "Sunday School teacher" position seriously... 

     "Are you one of my grandchildren?" If Edward Kimball asks that question in heaven someday, there are a few million people already on the branches of his spiritual family tree who would say, "Yes!" 

     I'll spend the next couple of weeks in Colorado with my grandchildren. They're a source of great joy and immense pride. If that's true in the human family, it's just as certain in the heavenly one! 

     Some people will die without ever having children. Most Christians will die without ever having spiritual children. How sad: they don't know what they're missing... 

Bob Shank

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