The Power of the Gospel

posted by Dr. John Thweatt, Lead Pastor of First Baptist Church in Pell City, AL

[Just for the record—if you go to Monday’s blog you’ll notice a key phrase in the first paragraph, “I have been thinking for the last few weeks of what stories I could make up…” I did not say Ryan was actually doing those things!!]

Yesterday I wrote about doing missions. I think the thing that changed my life forever was something that happened on the first trip we took to Kenya. We spent the day doing Back Yard Bible Clubs and Medical Clinics and then preached in open air crusades every night. Driving in Kenya is always an experience, but there was one particular area that we drove through almost every day that was unlike any other area. We knew we were there by the smell—on one side of the road they dumped their trash and got rid of it by burning it. The stench was awful, but not quite as awful as looking at the children picking through the trash trying to find something to eat.

When we reached that area our driver made us roll up our windows and put our cameras away. When asked why, he would always say, “Dangerous.” Well, we would drive through that area and go to other areas to preach that had been preached in for several years. In other words we were going to areas that had already been fished and most of the fish were already caught. I asked the pastor in Mombassa about the area and wondered aloud why we were preaching in areas that were already fished while we drove through areas so dangerous that we had to roll up the window. Pastor Joseph caught the vision and said, “We should go and preach there.” Needless to say this wasn’t a real popular idea with many of the other pastors who insisted it was simply too dangerous for us to be there.

I left the decision to them, but prayed that we could spend the last two nights of our mission trip preaching where they really needed to hear the Gospel. That afternoon I came back from a Back Yard Bible Club and was informed that we were going to preach in the area. I was also told that I needed to leave my passport, ring, and watch with the group and that I was to take just enough money to get back to the hotel in case something happened. I have preached Jesus’ words, “Take up your cross and follow me…” but for the first time I was faced with the reality—I might not make it back.

I wrote Kim a letter and told her how much I loved her and the girls and then prepared to go. We drove up to the place and the music was already playing and the tension was really thick. The looks on the faces of most of the crowd asked the question, “What are you doing here?” We were introduced and then something amazing happened. David Thew walked up to the microphone and started singing a song he learned in college—it just happened to be in Kiswahili—their language! The tension was gone, the frowns became smiles, and I knew God was about to move. I preached that night and 80 people came to Christ. We went back the next night and 120 people made professions of faith. We were willing to take a God-called risk and 200 people came to Christ.

The rest of the story still hasn’t been told—the next year we drove through the same area and I noticed we were not told to roll up our windows. I asked Pastor Joseph if it was the same place and he said yes. It was no longer dangerous—the Gospel had transformed a whole region. That is the power of the Gospel. Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Do you believe that? The Gospel we preach is transforming, but it has to be shared. It can change anyone, but they must hear it to be changed.

The best book I have ever read on missions is John Piper’s Let the Nations Be Glad, but I read another book not too long ago that was also really good—Transformation, by Bob Roberts. I will talk more about his book tomorrow, but let me close with a question he asked, “If community transformation became the measure of our success, how would our churches and our communities look different? How would we look different?” Great question—more on that tomorrow, but for now let me just encourage you to share the Gospel!


1 Response to “The Power of the Gospel”

  1. 1 myoung
    July 23, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Amazing story! I like the fishing analogy. Why fish an area heavily fished? Sometimes that’s the easiest thing to do instead of trying new and unfamiliar territory. Thank you for stepping up and saying you wanted to fish in a new place!

    God Bless!


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