Written by Linda Tu’ulakitau
In the countryside of North Carolina, USA, there was a tall self-righteous 16-year-old country lad who had not yet realised his destiny. On his father’s estate in Charlotte, a group of businessmen met together to devote a day of prayer and preparation for an upcoming crusade. During that day of prayer, they prophesied out of Charlotte that God would raise up someone to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Eleven weeks later in September 1934, a prominent fiery evangelist named Mordecai Ham came to preach, and nothing would stop him. Not even the dominant clergy in Charlotte, who attacked this confronting kind of preaching. At one point, this preacher pointed his finger at a group of students from the local high school and called out, “Fornication”, sending the local media into a frenzy as students revolted.
This self-righteous 16-year-old country boy became excited as this mighty preacher stirred up the town, but he was not convinced that he should attend, and his enthusiasm began to fade. The revival meetings extended to the second week, and now this 16-year-old was still not involved until a young 24-year-old fellow called Albert McMakin who attended the whole meetings was convinced that this self-righteous 16-year-old should attend. Albert persuaded him to show up, and when this fiery preacher Ham gave the invitation for salvation, this country boy remained in his seat.
The following night, Albert assured him to visit again. So confronting was Ham’s preaching that at one point, this country boy tucked behind a woman’s hat sitting in front of him to evade the preaching and his accusing finger. Once again, when the invitation came, this country boy remained seated. At school, his cousin encouraged him to go up front even though he not done it himself. The country boy attended that night’s service and was convinced that the fiery preacher knew about him when he cited: “… but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Evangelist Mordecai Ham gave the invitation for people to respond to Jesus, and this 16-year-old self-righteous country boy no longer remains seated. He went up front and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.
For the first time, this youngster realised who he was. He was not just a son of a farmer nor just a student attending high school. He was not insignificant nor without purpose. This country boy was now saved and set free. That 16-year-old country boy was Billy Graham!
What I love about that particular story–about Billy Graham’s story–is that the true hero in this particular context is not Billy Graham but one young man named Albert McMakin. He saw one life that needed to be touched. That one life needed the gospel of Jesus. It was Albert who constantly persevered with this one life. Even though Billy Graham was not interested, and he did not want to attend the meetings; He thought it was not for him, and he did not want it to be a part of his life… But Albert saw something of God in Billy Graham. He saw something of the purpose of God in Billy’s life, and he knew he needed to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.
That is why I love Evangelism, and that is why I will always persevere with the work that I am doing for the Lord because it is not about the crowd, it is always about the ONE. God is always asking us: Can you see the one? Can you see the one life that needs to be touched? Can you see the one life that needs to be transformed? The truth is, God doesn’t see the crowd. He sees one life! That is the awesomeness of God.
To me, the most profound lesson from this remarkable story is that we never really know the eternal impact of our witness or our work for the Lord. Because of one young man’s invitation and constant perseverance in trying to reach out to a 16-year-old country boy, there have been millions of people who have come to the Lord; countless lives have been transformed through the ministry of that great Evangelist Billy Graham. Even one life you reach out to with the Gospel of Jesus Christ will have an eternal impact and an eternal fruit. Sometimes we become discouraged because we “think” we don’t see any result of the work we do for the Lord. But my heartfelt encouragement would be to keep doing what the Lord has called you to do. Keep serving Jesus with every fiber of your being. Keep sharing the Gospel with other people until Jesus comes or until the day you depart from this world to be with the Lord. Because like Albert McMakin, we may not know the full extent of how the Lord has used us, but it will all be revealed on that day! God bless you all~
That is the power of Personal Evangelism! The specific role played by the ministry gift of an Evangelist (i.e. Evangelist Ham) and the part played by the everyday Christian believer (i.e. Albert McMakin) in Evangelism are both necessary for the great commission to be fulfilled.