Twenty years of my life were lived on the wrong side of the cross, and twenty-nine and a half were lived on this side with Christ. I can honestly say that the joy and pleasure I experienced in any week or month of these 29 years outweighs all the joy and pleasure that I could squeeze out of those first twenty.
As a little boy I began trying to get some of the world’s pleasure. I remember the first time I wanted something that I shouldn’t have had. My father had left home, and Mother was working at Woolworth’s for our living. She used to put her dimes in a little bank on her dresser. Many a time I looked at that bank but could think of no way to get those dimes out. As I watched her drop dimes in from time to time, I decided that she could not tell if one was gone. So one day I put tins in the slot, and all of a sudden the dimes dropped out. I put them all back but one.
I went down to a store and bought ten pieces of round, chocolate covered marshmallow candy, each of which had a little lead prize inside. I ate all ten pieces, though I did not know what to do with the ten prizes, because Mother would see them and ask me where I got them. I became sick from eating so much candy, but I also felt sick at heart to think that I had taken a dime from Mother.
How I wish I had been caught then! I was not caught until ten years later, when I was twenty years of age. During my teens I robbed my employer of hundreds of dollars. I had been the president of the student body of the high school and valedictorian of the graduating class. My subject was “Morality versus Legality,” yet I was stealing from the school funds. Such is the deceit of the human heart. Down in the heart of each person there is a twofold desire — a desire for happiness and a desire to be somebody and do something. Sometimes we give serious thought to these matters.
I tried to find a way out of my difficulties. I joined the Boy Scouts and took the oath to be “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous. etc.” I put on a Scout uniform, and I felt like a new man. But it was all on the outside. Nothing happened to change me for the better. At 14 I joined the church, but I had not met Christ. At the age of 17 I began going with a Christian girl. She asked me to go to a young people’s meeting. I went with her and kept on going until I became president of the young people’s society. Then on high school graduation night I ditched that Christian girl and went out with a beautiful unsaved girl.
THE PATH OF SIN
After that I thought, “I just can’t do what is right. It’s not in me to be good. I guess I’m one of those guys who just can’t win.” It seemed that the longer I lived, the weaker I became and the more I traveled downhill. Finally I gave up trying. I had not touched a drop of liquor until that time, but just a week after I graduated from high school I went out and got drunk at the suggestion of some of my acquaintances. They told me I would have fun. What a lie!
I woke up the next day at two o’clock in the afternoon. My suit was ruined, my vest was gone, my mind was blank and I did not know where I had been.
You would think that would have been enough, but it was only the beginning. In my twentieth year I was picked up four times and hauled away in an ambulance. Four times the police were after me. Two months after I had reached my twentieth birthday I was arrested and was on my way to jail. Mother was at home sick in bed with cancer. She must have had a premonition of this, for she had said to me that very week, “Son, you’re breaking my heart. I’m praying for you, but you know, I’m afraid if I ever hear that you are in jail, I’ll die. It will kill me.”
On the way to jail, though I was under the influence of liquor, I did what any man does when he gets into trouble — I cried out to God. I said, “O God, if You will get me out of this mess tonight, if You will keep me out of jail, I’ll do whatever you want me to.”
It frightened me as I said that, because just one month before, I was nearly drowned in a lake. The girl with whom I was swimming across the lake could not make it. I had a bad heart, and I was hardly able to make it myself. She yelled, and I grabbed her, and we both went down under the water. I just said, “God, save me! I’ll do what You want!” We bobbed up, and a couple coming along in a boat (they had not seen us until that moment) pulled us out.
I had forgotten that promise I made to God, but this time I thought, “God, if You will save me this time, I will do what You want.”
That big policeman had me by the arm, and he was angry because I had done something he rightfully hated. But the moment I cried, he looked down at me and said, “Do you like this kind of a life?”
I said, “Sir, I hate it!”
He took me to a park and made me stay there three hours, until I sobered up. Then he let me go with a promise to do better.
THE BEGINNING OF BETTER THINGS
That took place on Friday night, and Sunday evening I went to church. This was in a little town of 5,000 people, where there were four churches, with young people’s groups in all of them. And though there were some young fellows my age among them, still there was not one whom God could put His hand on and say, “I’ve got a job for you.” There was not one fellow whom God could guide to Dawson Trotman to tell him the Gospel story.
God picked out a couple of schoolteachers, Miss Mills and Miss Thomas, to have a large part in my coming to Christ. Miss Mills was a general science teacher, and I was one of her problem pupils. She wrote my name on her prayer list and prayed for me every day for six solid years.
On the Friday night I was arrested, she was home with Miss Thomas, looking up verses in the Bible, trying to find ten on the subject of salvation which they could give to the young people to memorize. Little did she know that the boy for whom she had been praying for six years was going to memorize those verses. When Sunday came along, I decided to go to young people’s meeting. The pool hall where I played billiards and gambled was about half a block from the church. That evening I looked around to make sure none of the pool hall bays were looking, and I sneaked down to the church and joined in the young people’s service.
A young couple who knew me from high school days were standing in the entrance to the church. They recognized me and gave me a warm, kindly greeting. “We’re starting a contest tonight,” they told me.
“Be on my side,” said Johnny, and Alice said, “You be on my side.” I went on Alice’s side. She gave me a piece of paper and said, “Now, you hang onto this.”
Then we went inside, and the young people had the usual preliminaries and service. I do not remember what was said, except that they discussed a party and a contest in which the points were to be given for various things, among them the memorization of Scripture.
“What do I do with this piece of paper?” I asked.
Alice said, “Do you see those numbers? They indicate the chapter and verse in the Bible. When you learn a verse, you get five points — 10 verses, 50 points.”
I went home and dug out my little Testament, and in the course of a week I learned all ten verses. Here I was, an unsaved fellow, learning, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23); “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23); “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27); “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). John 1:12 was also in that group: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God…”
My side was ahead on the following Sunday because of my 50 points, and Alice came around and gave me ten more verses. Miss Mills and Miss Thomas had thought that if anybody memorized the first ten verses, there should be ten more; and this second ten should be for new Christians, to help them live the Christian life. How they prayed that first week for me!
In the new group of ten verses were these: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17); “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil” (2 Thessalonians 3:3) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
I went back the following Sunday and got another 50 points for the Reds, The Reds were ahead of the Blues, and I helped put them there. We won the contest.
GOD’S WORK IN A SOUL
One unforgettable event resulted from that. During the third week of my renewed interest in young people’s meetings I was on my way to work with these 20 verses of Scripture stored away in my memory. I walked along, minding my own business, with my lunch pail in my hand. I was back in my sin. My promise to God, made that night when the policeman was taking me to jail, did not change my life. Going to young people’s meeting on Sunday did not change me either. I was the same guy. I was spending Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at the taverns and beer joints, and going to church on Sunday and feeling, “Well’ I’m a little better. I guess a little of this good won’t hurt me after all.”
But Miss Mills was praying, and the Word of God was working; and all of a sudden that morning, as I walked along, the Holy Spirit brought one of those verses to my mind: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life…” (John 5:24).
Those words “hath everlasting life” stuck in my mind. I said, “O God, that’s wonderful — everlasting life!” I pulled my little Testament out of my pocket and looked it up, and sure enough, there it was — “…hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
There for the first time I remember praying, after I had grown to be a man, when I was not in trouble with the police or something like that. I said, “O God, whatever this means, I want to have it.” And just like that the Holy Spirit brought John 1:12 to my mind: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God…” I then looked up that verse, and there it was, just as I remembered it. “O God,” I said, “whatever it means to receive Jesus, I do it right now.” That was my new birth.
Do you know how I know? I did not know the next verse, which tells of the new birth — “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13) — but a distinct change had taken place. I could no longer enjoy the dirty stories or taking of the Lord’s Name in vain. I used to think it was fun to use bad language when I lost my temper, but that grew distasteful to me. When I cried to God for help, the Holy Spirit brought one of the 20 verses to my mind. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins…” So I said, “Okay, God, forgive me.”
My Bible teaches that if any man can bridle his tongue, he can bridle his whole body. That was one of the first lessons I learned at the beginning of the Christian life. That is one of the reasons why I love to see a brand-new Christian begin to get the Word of God down into his heart. If it had not been for those 20 verses, I would have been back in the dance hall and the beer joints.
Immediately after my conversion I began learning verses, and I learned one a day for the first three years. In those years I learned my first thousand verses.
My preacher said to me when I went to him for help in leading others to Christ, “I’ll tell you something, lad. There is an answer in the Bible for every excuse that any man can give for not coming to Christ.” I believed him. Then I went alone to prayer and said, “God, if there is an answer to any man’s excuse, I promise You I will never be caught on the same excuse twice.”
That is a little promise to make, but it changed the course of my life. After all, there are only so many excuses. This was the seed from which the Navigator work started and grew.
ASKING GOD FOR BIG THINGS
One day I said to my second daughter, when she was about seven years old, “Now, honey, if you get all that work done by Friday night, I’ll see that you get a pony ride.”
Then I happened to hear Bruce, who was nine, whisper to her, “You may not get it. He promised me one once that I didn’t get.”
I had made Bruce that promise but had forgotten about it, and he had not come around to claim it. When I overheard him say to his sister, “It may not work, because it didn’t work with me,” he got his pony ride within 24 hours. I would not feel very good toward the man who promised his child something and then refused to give it to him.
God says in His Book, “…what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” (Matthew 7:9-11).
In line with this read what God promises in Jeremiah 33:3: “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” In substance this particular verse says that if you will ask God for something big, He will answer; and He will show you things that you have not even imagined.
For those who might say, “Well, that might have been good back there, but how about in this day and age?” there is this corresponding verse in the New Testament: “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
Every person who knows Jesus Christ has a hookup with heaven.
When you say, “Father in heaven,” you have addressed God the Father, the Maker of the universe, the One who holds the worlds in His hands. What did you ask for? Did you ask for peanuts, or toys? Or did you ask for continents? It is a tragedy when we think of the little things we ask of an Almighty God. When He says, “You call unto Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you know not,” we should believe Him to mean what He says.
A SIX WEEK PRAYER MEETING
I asked a friend of mine, whom I will call Dick, if he would join me in praying on the basis of that great promise. He agreed to. We figured that we were not going to take any chances on anything. We examined some verses of Scripture which dealt with importunity in prayer. We read that the Lord got up in the early morning and went out into a solitary place (Mark 1:35), so we decided to meet every morning up in the hills, where we would be away from noises and distractions. We agreed to meet with God from five until seven o’clock each morning of the week, including Sundays.
Dick was a plumber and I was a truck driver, and we had to be in another city ready to go to work by eight o’clock. We agreed to meet two weeks, five weeks, ten weeks — the whole year, if necessary; but we were not going to quit until somehow down in our hearts we could say to God, “We believe You’ve heard us; we believe You’re going to give us what we’ve asked for.”
We decided to ask first for the things that we were doing and for the people around us and to keep our hearts open, so that God could widen our interests to the fullest extent.
We were challenged by Acts 1:8: “… ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” We were going to let God lead us by His Holy Spirit to ask for the biggest things possible.
THE BEGINNING OF GOD’S WORKING
God had already worked in our home town. I had taken a Sunday school class of six boys, though I had been a Christian for only a short time. The superintendent of the Sunday school said to me before I had my first session, “We’re going to give you this Sunday school class, and we’re going to pray for you, because this class has killed off two teachers already.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well,” he said, “the two teachers have already given up; they could not get these boys to listen.” I had prayed about that, and the Lord had given me the hearts of three of these kids.
On the first Sunday they did not listen, and I prayed to the Lord about it. I said, “Lord, I had my lesson prepared, and those boys didn’t listen. How am I going to get them? You made little boys. Give me some idea.”
He gave me an idea. I went down to see George, who was the ringleader. I saw him alone, and I learned something right there. A boy is different when you get him alone. George was not blowing any beans when I looked him in the eye. I said, “George” (I had read him Mark 4, where it says that the sower tried to sow the seed, and the devil snatched it away), “you know, the devil didn’t have to be in Sunday school last Sunday. He just used you. While I was trying to give those other boys the Word, you were drawing their attention away. Those five other boys failed to hear what God wanted them to hear because of you.”
“Oh,” he said, “what’ll I do?” Now this is not good theology, but I told him, “You come back next Sunday and be a good boy and act like an angel, and maybe the Lord will forgive you. The better angel you are, the more He’s likely to forgive you.”
Although I was not very well versed in theology in those days, it worked! The class listened, and George was saved, and so were Jimmie and his other buddies. We did not get through our lessons. We found that we had to meet in the middle of the week, and that little class of six boys grew to where it was 225 boys who had accepted the Lord. The Sunday school grew from 100 to 400.
Dick and I had already seen this victory, and he was helping me with the boys. We began praying up there in the hills for each of these boys by name.
Since we had calls from other towns — San Pedro, Long Beach, Glendale and Pasadena — to come over and help them because of our work with the boys, we began to pray for those cities also. We prayed for Pasadena and for Redondo Beach; as the weeks rolled on, we found ourselves praying for Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego. When we began these morning prayer meetings, it seemed a big thing to pray for those towns, but soon it did not seem any bigger to pray that God would use us in those places.
About the fourth week I said, “Dick, would you be willing to pray that God would use us in every state in the United States?”
“Well, He’s big enough,” Dick said.
So we made a list of 48 states, and we prayed. Morning after morning in these little prayer meetings we would look at our list and ask God to use us and other young fellows in Washington, in Oregon, in California, and in all the other states of the Union. Five weeks went by, and we did not miss a morning. We met at four o’clock on Sunday morning and spent three hours in prayer. During the sixth week the Lord put it on our hearts to get a map of the world, and we took it up to our little cave in the hill. We began to put our fingers on Germany, France and Italy. We put them on Turkey and Greece. I remember looking at one little island near China — you had to look close to see what it was — and we prayed that God would use us in the lives of men on Formosa.
We could not have prayed like that the first week. I don’t think that time has much to do with whether God hears you or not; but I do believe that time has something to do with whether or not your faith is built up as you pray and ask. I don’t believe that God will ever give much to those who have their little conscience-easer prayers in the morning and evening. If you cannot take 1/48th of your day to be alone with your mighty God and King, I rather doubt that He is going to do very much through you.
SOUL WINNING IN THE HOME
My wife and I took Isaiah 60:11, “…thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night…” as the motto for our home. We were married on Sunday, and we opened our home on Wednesday. It was not long until the first sailor accepted the Lord. Men from every one of the 48 states have since then found the Lord in our home. There was a period of six months when we seldom ate breakfast or our evening meal alone, because sailors were there. I believe with all my heart that one of the greatest soul saving stations in the world is the home.
WORK IN FORMOSA
Five years ago I went over to Formosa as a representative of The Navigators and got together all the ministers in the city of Taipei. There were nine churches in that city then. I met for a week with the pastors of those churches and other pastors who came in from some of the towns around, explaining how our Navigator plans worked in the Navy and Army. We inaugurated this plan in Formosa, began to work with Dick Hillis, and took charge of the follow-up.
Today there are 90 churches in Taipei. Over a sixth of a million converts, spiritually five years old or less, have finished at least one Navigator Bible study and parts of the Topical Memory System, and they have led another hundred thousand to Christ. We have 27 full-time Chinese secretaries to handle the work we are doing with both young and old in Formosa. Similar work is carried on in Okinawa, Hong Kong, Saigon, the Philippines and Korea.
Such soul winning starts in this way: First, you have to believe the Book, then you must ask, and keep on asking. Before you can touch people in 48 states, you have to touch them in one state. And before you can touch them in one state, you must touch them in one city. And before you can touch them in one city, you must be able to touch them on one street. Any person who knows how to be saved and is saved has enough knowledge, if imparted to another, to reach that one for Christ.
FEAR IN SOUL WINNING
Sometimes I am almost afraid to ask the Lord to give me a soul, because I know that if I ask Him, I am going to have to get busy. I have been a Christian for 29 years, and it still frightens me to talk to a man about his need of salvation.
Having that fear after so many years of doing personal work used to bother me. Suddenly I realized that such fear was only a little red light going on and off to remind me that it was “…not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord…” You never get to the place where you can do it on your own. You need Him.
I made such a request one day; then I began to look for a man. I was driving an old Model T at that time; and as I rode along, I saw a man hitchhiking on a six lane highway. I kept my eyes straight ahead and watched the red signal light at which I had to stop. Looking at the fellow out of the corner of my eye, I saw that he looked big and tough, so I decided that he was the wrong one. As I waited for that red light to change, I don’t know what happened to it, but it was on for a long time, it seemed. I thought the man had gone back to the curb, but when I looked at him, he was looking right at me. Inviting him in, I lost no time in getting a Gospel tract into his hand. He read it through and then handed it back to me.
“What did you think of it?” I asked.
He replied, “I think it’s wonderful.”
I was startled at his answer and said, “Oh, you’re a Christian!”
“No,” he answered, “I’m not a Christian. I’ve been going to some tent meetings down this way every night for two weeks, and I can’t get through. I have gone down to the front every night, but I can’t get through.”
“Through what?” I asked.
He answered, “Isn’t there something to get through?”
I pulled over, stopped, and said, “Buddy, I’ve got news for you. Somebody already got through.” All he needed was the simple Gospel instead of being told to do something, and he accepted Christ.
Do you know what I had been doing? I saw this rough character, and I thought, “He won’t repent. He won’t believe.” That was not my business. I have no right to decide for any other man whether or not he will accept the Lord. My business is to tell him the story and let him decide.
WE NEED TO REACH NEIGHBORS AND RELATIVES
“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). We must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an account of the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). And I want to tell you that to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, it is sin (James 4:17). I do not know of any greater sin than to let a man or woman next door to you go to Hell. You have the pardon written right out in the Book; but they have never seen it, and you have not told them.
I read over in Proverbs, “If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? and He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? and shall not He render to every man according to his works?” (Proverbs 24:11-12).
When I first came to know the Lord, I talked to my brother about the Savior. He laughed at me and said, “I’m not interested. Don’t talk to me any more.” I do not talk to a man when he tells me not to, but I talk to the Lord.
Three years later I said, “Roland, could I talk to you for a moment about Christ?”
He said yes, and smiled a bit. The Lord had just brought him to Himself. He had seen some things that had touched his heart. Three weeks later headlines in the Los Angeles Examiner read, “Hero Gives Life To Save Girl.” How do you think I felt when I found out that my own brother was gone? What if I had not spoken to him about Christ?
The very first trip I ever took on United Airlines was on a 12 passenger Boeing plane. It was about a three-hour trip, and I wanted to witness for Christ, but it was not until the last half hour that I got up the nerve to talk to the stewardess. She said, “Do you know what? I’ve never heard this story before.”
She was a church member, but she did not know that Christ died for her. She thanked me for speaking to her about her need of salvation. Evelyn Sandino accepted the Lord just as we came into Burbank.
Three weeks later while riding on a train, I picked up a newspaper and read: “United Airliner Crashes in Utah Mountains 40 Miles From Town.” Evelyn’s picture was there. She was the stewardess on that ill-fated plane. We do not know how soon a person may die.
I do not know what it is going to take to wake up God’s people to the fact that we must get this message out now. As I look back over the past 29 years and see how God has taken a few little things and made big things out of them, I covet the same for all of God’s people.
WHY MEN LOSE OUT WITH GOD
I told you that Dick prayed with me in those early days. Do you know what he said to me about three years ago? “I’ve got my seventh church, and I don’t have one person in my church who is down to business for Jesus Christ; and I don’t know anybody I’ve had in the past six months who has been down to business in the manner you describe.”
Then he added, “Maybe it’s because I never got down to business.” No “maybe” about that!
I remembered the one event that turned the course of his life. It happened while we lived in Long Beach. The Long Beach Municipal Band used to play for all of the people who came to the seashore on Sunday afternoons. The Fishermen’s Club, of which Dick and I were members, had the right to come in at the close of the band program and announce that we were going to preach the Gospel. About ten percent of the audience would stay, and then we boys would get up and give our testimonies. It was in June, just the time when the swimming was best. We had to decide whether or not we would give our Sunday afternoons to that or to the Lord’s work. Both Dick and I made the decision that we would go to the band shell.
A couple of weeks after we stopped praying together, Dick did not show up at the band shell. The following Sunday it was the same story; and as I rode home that day after giving my testimony, I passed a car in which were Dick and his girl friend in their bathing suits. It is possible for some Christians to do that and get away with it; but I do not think it was possible for Dick, because he had made a covenant with God.
I did not say anything to him, and he did not know that I had seen them; so when I met him the next Tuesday evening at Fishermen’s Club, I gave him a little piece of paper with Isaiah 58:13-14 written on it. “Don’t look this up now,” I said to Dick, “but you go and get Nancy. Then read these verses together and pray about them. Now, promise me you won’t read this by yourself.” He gave me his word.
I left the church and went on out to catch the bus, but as I waited for one to come along, I became very thirsty and decided to go back into the basement of the church for a drink of water. There I found Dick reading by the light of a match the paper which I had given him. He had broken his promise.
Here are the verses which I wanted Dick and Nancy to read: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 58:13-14).
I gave it to him to make him face the fact that maybe it was not the best thing for him to be going swimming instead of witnessing for Christ on the Lord’s Day, but he did not come back to the band shell.
GOD HAS A WORK FOR YOU
Suppose Dick had taken that word of exhortation and asked the Lord’s forgiveness. Is it possible that God would have let him zoom right ahead on His plan? It is not only possible; it is probable.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). I believe that verse will hold right down to the last minute that you take a breath. If you have drifted from the Lord and from His will for you, return now. If you will do it, I believe He will permit you to go ahead in His plan for you.
BORN TO REPRODUCE
A few years ago, while visiting Edinburgh, Scotland, I stood on High Street just down from the castle. As I stood there, I saw a father and a mother coming toward me pushing a baby carriage. They looked very happy, were well dressed and apparently were well-to-do. I tried to catch a glimpse of the baby as they passed and, seeing my interest, they stopped to let me look at the little, pink-cheeked member of their family.
I watched them for a little while as they walked on and thought how beautiful it is that God permits a man to chose one woman who seems the most beautiful and lovely to him, and she chooses him out of all the men whom she has ever known. Then they separate themselves to one another, and God in His plan gives them the means of reproduction! It is a wonderful thing that a little child should be born into their family, having some of the father’s characteristics and some of the mother’s, some of his looks and some of hers. Each sees in that baby a reflection of the one whom he or she loves.
Seeing that little one made me feel homesick for my own children whom I dearly love and whose faces I had not seen for some time. As I continued to stand there I saw another baby carriage, or perambulator as they call it over there, coming in my direction. It was a secondhand affair and very wobbly. Obviously the father and mother were poor. Both were dressed poorly and plainly, but when I indicated my interest in seeing their baby, they stopped and with the same pride as the other parents let me view their little, pink-cheeked, beautiful eyed child.
I thought as these went on their way, “God gave this little baby whose parents are poor everything that He gave the other. It has five little fingers on each hand, a little mouth and two eyes. Properly cared for, those little hands may someday be the hands of an artist or a musician.”
Then this other thought came to me, “Isn’t it wonderful that God did not select the wealthy and the educated and say, ‘You can have children,’ and to the poor and uneducated say, ‘You cannot.’ Everyone on earth has that privilege.”
The first order ever given to man was that he “be fruitful and multiply.” In other words, he was to reproduce after his own kind. God did not tell Adam and Eve, our first parents, to be spiritual. They were already in His image. Sin had not yet come in. He just said, “Multiply. I want more just like you, more in My own image.”
Of course, the image was marred. But Adam and Eve had children. They began to multiply. There came a time, however, when God had to destroy most of the flesh that had been born. He started over with eight people. The more than two billion people who are on the earth today came from the eight who were in the ark, because they were fruitful and multiplied.
Only a few things will ever keep human beings from multiplying themselves in the physical realm. One is that they never marry. If they are not united, they will not reproduce. This is a truth which Christians need to grasp with reference to spiritual reproduction. When a person becomes a child of God, he should realize that he is to live in union with Jesus Christ if he is going to win others to the Savior.
Another factor that can hinder reproduction is disease or impairment to some part of the body that is needed for reproductive purposes. In the spiritual realm sin is the disease that can keep one from winning the lost.
One other thing that can keep people from having children is immaturity. God in His wisdom saw to it that little children cannot have babies. A little boy must first grow to sufficient maturity to be able to earn a living, and a little girl must be old enough to care for a baby.
Everyone should be born again. That is God’s desire. God never intended that man should merely live and die — be a walking corpse to be laid in the ground. The vast majority of people know that there is something beyond the grave, and so each one who is born into God’s family should seek others to be born again.
A person is born again when he receives Jesus Christ. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God…Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12,13) — the new birth. It is God’s plan that these new babes in Christ grow. All provision is made for their growth into maturity, and then they are to multiply — not only the rich or the educated, but all alike. Every person who is born into God’s family is to multiply.
In the physical realm when your children have children, you become a grandparent. Your parents are then great- grandparents, and theirs are great-great-grandparents. And so it should be in the spiritual.
Wherever you find a Christian who is not leading men and women to Christ, something is wrong. He may still be a babe. I do not mean that he does not know a lot of doctrine and is not well informed through hearing good preaching. I know many people who can argue the pre-, the post- and the amillennial position and who know much about dispensations, but who are still immature. Paul said of some such in Corinth, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual (or mature), but as unto carnal, even as unto babes…” (1 Corinthians 3:1).
Because they were babes, they were immature, incapable of spiritual reproduction. In other words, they could not help other people to be born again. Paul continued, “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it … ye are yet carnal (or babes): for … there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions…” (1 Corinthians 3:2,3). I know a lot of church members, Sunday school teachers and members of the women’s missionary society who will say to each other, “Have you heard about so and so?” and pass along some gossip. Such have done an abominable thing in the sight of God. How horrible it is when a Christian hears something and spreads the story! The Book says, “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him…a lying tongue…” (Proverbs 6:16,17). Oh, the Christians I know, both men and women, who let lying come in!
“…he that soweth discord among brethren” (Proverbs 16:19) is another. This is walking as a babe, and I believe that it is one of the basic reasons why some Christians do not have people born again into God’s family through them. They are sick spiritually. There is something wrong. There is a spiritual disease in their lives. They are immature. There is not that union with Christ.
But when all things are right between you and the Lord, regardless of how much or how little you may know intellectually from the standpoint of the world, you can be a spiritual parent. And that, incidentally, may even be when you are very young in the Lord.
A young lady works at the telephone desk in our office in Colorado Springs. A year and a half ago she was closely associated with the young Communist league in Great Britain. She heard Billy Graham and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. Soon she and a couple other girls in her art and drama school were used of the Lord to win some girls to Christ. We taught Pat and some of the others, and they in turn taught the girls whom they led to Christ. Some of these have led still other girls to Christ, and they too are training their friends. Patricia is a great-grandmother already, though she is only about a year and four months old in the Lord.
We see this all the time. I know a sailor who, when he was only four months old in the Lord, was a great-grandfather. He had led some sailors to the Lord who in turn led other sailors to the Lord, and these last led still other sailors to the Lord — yet he was only four months old.
How was this done? God used the pure channel of these young Christians’ lives in their exuberance and first love for Christ, and out of their hearts the incorruptible seed of the Word of God was sown in the hearts of other people. It took hold. Faith came by the hearing of the Word. They were born again by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They observed those Christians who led them to Christ and shared in the joy, the peace and the thrill of it all. And in their joy, they wanted someone else to know.
In all our Christian audiences, I am sure there are men and women who have been Christians for five, ten or twenty years but who do not know of one person who is living for Jesus Christ today because of them. I am not talking now about merely working for Christ, but about producing for Christ. Someone may say, “I gave out a hundred thousand tracts.” That is good, but how many sheep did you bring in?”
Some time ago I talked to 29 missionary candidates. They were graduates of universities or Bible schools or seminaries. As a member of the board I interviewed each one over a period of five days, giving each candidate from half an hour to an hour. Among the questions I asked were two which are very important. The first one had to do with their devotional life. “How is your devotional life?” I asked them. “How is the time you spend with the Lord? Do you feel that your devotional life is what the Lord would have it to be?”
Out of this particular group of 29 only one person said, “I believe my devotional life is what it ought to be.” To the others my question then was, “Why is your devotional life not what it should be?”
“Well, you see, I am here at this summer school,” was a common reply. “We have a concentrated course. We do a year’s work in only ten weeks. We are so busy.”
I said, “All right. Let’s back up to when you were in college. Did you have victory in your devotional life then?”
“Well, not exactly.”
We traced back and found that never since they came to know the Savior had they had a period set aside for daily devotions. That was one of the reasons for their sterility — lack of communion with Christ.
The other question I asked them was, “You are going out to the foreign field. You hope to be used by the Lord in winning men and women to Christ. Is that right?”
“You want them to go on and live the victorious life, don’t you? You don’t want them just to make a decision and then go back into the world, do you?”
“Then may I ask you something more? How many persons do you know by name today who were won to Christ by you and are living for Him?”
“The majority had to admit that they were ready to cross an ocean and learn a foreign language, but they had not won their first soul who was going on with Jesus Christ. A number of them said that they got many people to go to church; others said they had persuaded some to go forward when the invitation was given.
I asked, “Are they living for Christ now?” Their eyes dropped. I then continued, “How do you expect that by crossing an ocean and speaking in a foreign language with people who are suspicious of you, whose way of life is unfamiliar, you will be able to do there what you have not yet done here?”
This is not for missionaries and prospective missionaries only. It is for all of God’s people. Every one of His children ought to be a reproducer.
Are you producing? If not, why not? Is it because of a lack of communion with Christ, your Lord, that closeness of fellowship which is part of the great plan? Or is it some sin in your life, an unconfessed something, that has stopped the flow? Or is it that you are still a babe? “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again…” (Hebrews 5:12).
HOW TO PRODUCE REPRODUCERS
The reason that we are not getting this Gospel to the ends of the earth is not because it is not potent enough.
Twenty-three years ago we took a born-again sailor and spent some time with him, showing him how to reproduce spiritually after his kind. It took time, lots of time. It was not a hurried, 30 minute challenge in a church service and a hasty good-bye with an invitation to come back next week. We spent time together. We took care of his problems and taught him not only to hear God’s Word and to read it, but also how to study it. We taught him how to fill the quiver of his heart with the arrows of God’s Word, so that the Spirit of God could lift an arrow from his heart and place it to the bow of his lips and pierce a heart for Christ.
He found a number of boys on his ship, but none of them would go all out for the Lord. They would go to church, but when it came right down to doing something, they were “also rans.” He came to me after a month of this and said, “Dawson, I can’t get any of these guys on the ship to get down to business.”
I said to him, “Listen, you ask God to give you one. You can’t have two until you have one. Ask God to give you a man after your own heart.”
He began to pray. One day he came to me and said, “I think I’ve found him.” Later he brought the young fellow over. Three months from the time I started to work with him, he had found a man for Christ, a man of like heart. This first sailor was not the kind of man you had to push and give prizes to before he would do something. He loved the Lord and was willing to pay a price to produce. He worked with this new babe in Christ, and those two fellows began to grow and spiritually reproduce. On that ship 125 men found the Savior before it was sunk at Pearl Harbor.
Men off that first battleship are in four continents of the world as missionaries today. The work spread from ship to ship to ship, so that when the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbor, there was a testimony being given on 50 ships of the U.S. fleet. When the war closed, there was work by one or more producers (I am not talking about mere Christians), on more than a thousand of the U.S. Fleet ships and at many army camps and air bases. It had to have a start, however. The devil’s great trick is to stop anything like this if he can before it gets started. He will stop you, too, if you let him.
There are Christians whose lives run in circles who, nevertheless, have the desire to be spiritual parents. Take a typical example. You meet him in the morning as he goes to work and say to him, “Why are you going to work?”
“Well, I have to earn money.”
“What are you earning money for?” you ask.
“Well,” he replies, “I have to buy food.”
“What do you want food for?”
“I have to eat so as to have strength to go to work and earn some more money.”
“What do you want more money for?”
“I have to buy clothes so that I can be dressed to go to work and earn some more money.”
“What do you want more money for?”
“I have to buy a house or pay the rent so I will have a place to rest up, so I will be fit to work and earn some more money.” And so it goes. There are many Christians like that who are going in big circles. But you continue your questioning and ask, “What else do you do?”
“Oh, I find time to serve the Lord. I am preaching here and there.” But down behind all of this he has the one desire to be a spiritual father. He is praying that God will give him a man to teach. Perhaps it takes him six months. It need not take that long, but maybe it takes him six months to reach the other for Christ and get him started taking in the Word and giving it out and getting ready to teach a man himself.
So this first man at the end of six months has another man. Each man starts teaching another in the following six months. At the end of the year, there are just four of them. Perhaps each one teaches a Bible class or helps in a street meeting, but at the same time his main interest is seeing how the new fellow he won to the Lord is doing. So at the end of the year the four of them get together and have a prayer meeting and determine, “Now, let’s not allow anything to sidetrack us. Let’s give the Gospel out to a lot of people, but let’s check up on at least one and see him through.”
So the four of them in the next six months each get a man. That makes eight at the end of a year and a half. They all go out after another and at the end of two years there are 16 men. At the end of three years there are 64 men; the 16 have doubled twice. At the end of five years there are 1,024. At the end of fifteen and a half years there are approximately 2,147,500,000. That is the present population of the world of persons over three years of age.
But wait a minute! Suppose that after the first man, A, helps B and B is ready to get his man while A starts helping another, B is sidetracked, washes out and does not produce his first man. Fifteen and one half years later you can cut your 2,147,500,000 down to 1,073,7500 because the devil caused B to be sterile.
God promised Abraham “… in Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Genesis 21:12), so Abraham waited a long, long time for that son. God’s promise to make Abraham the father of many nations was all wrapped up in that one son, Isaac. If Hitler had been present and had caused Isaac’s death when Abraham had his knife poised over him on Mount Moriah, Hitler could have killed every Jew in that one stroke.
I believe that is why Satan puts all his efforts into getting the Christian busy, busy, busy, but not producing.
Men, where is your man? Women, where is your woman? Where is the one whom you led to Christ and who is now going on with Him?
There is a story in 1 Kings, chapter 20 about a man who gave a prisoner to a servant and instructed the servant to guard the prisoner well. But as the servant was busy here and there the prisoner made his escape.
The curse of today is that we are too busy. I am not talking about being busy earning money to buy food. I am talking about being busy doing Christian things. We have spiritual activity with little productivity. And productivity comes as a result of what we call “follow-up.”
MAJORING IN REPRODUCING
Five years ago, Billy Graham came to me and said, “Daws, we would like you to help with our follow-up. I’ve been studying the great evangelists and the great revivals and I fail to see that there was much of a follow-up program. We need it. We are having an average of 6,000 people come forward to decide for Christ in a month’s campaign. I feel that with the work you have done you could come in and help us.”
I said, “Billy, I can’t follow up 6,000 people. My work has always been with individuals and small groups.”
“Look, Daws,” he answered, “everywhere I go I meet Navigators. I met them in school in Wheaton. They are in my school right now. (He was president of Northwestern Schools at that time.) There must be something to this.”
“I just don’t have time.” I said.
He tackled me again. The third time he pled with me and said, “Daws, I am not able to sleep nights for thinking of what happens to the converts after a crusade is over.”
At that time I was on my way to Formosa and I said, “While I am there I will pray about it, Billy.” On the sands of a Formosan beach I paced up and down two or three hours a day praying, “Lord, how can I do this? I am not even getting the work done You have given me to do. How can I take six months of the year to give to Billy?” But God laid the burden upon my heart.
Why should Billy have asked me to do it? I had said to him that day before I left for Formosa, “Billy, you will have to get somebody else.”
He took me by the shoulders and said, “Who else? Who is majoring in this?” I had been majoring in it.
What will it take to jar us out of our complacency and send us home to pray, “God, give me a girl or man whom I can win to Christ, or let me take one who is already won, an infant in Christ, and try to train that one so that he or she will reproduce!”
How thrilled we are to see the masses fill up the seats! But where is your man? I would rather have one “Isaac” alive than a hundred dead, or sterile, or immature.
BEGINNING OF FOLLOW-UP
One day years ago, I was driving along in my little Model T Ford and saw a young man walking down the street. I stopped and picked him up. As he got into the car, he swore and said, “It’s sure tough to get a ride.” I never hear a man take my Savior’s name in vain but what my heart aches. I reached into my pocket for a tract and said, “Lad, read this.”
He looked up at me and said, “Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?”
I looked at him closely. He looked like someone I should know. We figured out that we had met the year before on the same road. He was on his way to a golf course to caddy when I picked him up. He had gotten into my car and had started out the same way with the name “Jesus Christ.” I had taken exception to his use of that name and had opened up the New Testament and shown him the way of salvation. He had accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. In parting I had given him Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” “God bless you, son. Read this,” I said, and sped on my merry way.
A year later, there was no more evidence of the new birth and the new creature in this boy than if he had never heard of Jesus Christ.
I had a great passion to win souls and that was my great passion. But after I met this boy the second time on the way to the golf course, I began to go back and find some of my “converts.” I want to tell you, I was sick at heart. It seemed that Philippians 1:6 was not working.
An Armenian boy came into my office one day and told me about all the souls he had won. He said that they were all Armenians and had the list to prove it.
I said, “Well, what is this one doing?”
He said, “That one isn’t doing so good. He is backslidden.”
“What about this one?” We went all down the list and there was not one living a victorious life.
I said, “Give me your Bible.” I turned to Philippians and put a cardboard right under the 6th verse, took a razor blade out of my pocket and started to come down on the page. He grabbed my hand and asked, “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to cut this verse out,” I said, “It isn’t working.”
Do you know what was wrong? I had been taking the 6th verse away from its context, verses 3 through 7. Paul was not just saying, “All right, the Lord has started something, He will finish it.” But you know, that is what some people tell me when they win a soul. They say, “Well, I just committed him to God.”
Suppose I meet someone who has a large family and say to him, “Who is taking care of your children?”
“My family? Oh, I left them with the Lord.”
Right away I would say to that one, “I have a verse for you: ‘But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he…is worse than an infidel’ (1 Timothy 5:8).”
Paul said to the elders of the church at Ephesus, “Take heed…to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers…” (Acts 20:28). You cannot make God the overseer. He makes you the overseer.
We began work on follow-up. This emphasis on finding and helping some of the converts went on for a couple or three years before the Navigator work started. By that time our work included fewer converts but more time spent with the converts. Soon I could say as Paul said to the Philippians, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5). He followed up his converts with daily prayer and fellowship. Then he could say, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). In keeping with this the 7th verse reads: “Even as it is meet (or proper) for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart…”
Until this time I had forgotten to follow up the people God had reached through me. But from then on I began to spend time helping them. That is why sometime later when that first sailor came to me, I saw the value of spending three months with him. I saw an Isaac in him. Isaac had Jacob, and Jacob had the twelve, and all the rest of the nation came through them.
IT TAKES TIME TO DO GOD’S WORK
You can lead a soul to Christ in from 20 minutes to a couple of hours. But it takes from 20 weeks to a couple of years to get him on the road to maturity, victorious over the sins and the recurring problems that come along. He must learn how to make right decisions. He must be warned of the various “isms” that are likely to reach out with their octopus arms and pull him in and sidetrack him.
But when you get yourself a man, you have doubled your ministry — in fact, you have more than doubled your ministry. Do you know why? When you teach your man, he sees how it is done and he imitates you.
If I were the minister of a church and had deacons or elders to pass the plate and choir members to sing, I would say, “Thank God for your help. We need you. Praise the Lord for these extra things that you do,” but I would keep pressing home the big job — “Be fruitful and multiply.” All these other things are incidental to the supreme task of winning a man or woman to Jesus Christ and then helping him or her to go on.
Where is your man? Where is your woman? Do you have one? You can ask God for one. Search your hearts. Ask the Lord, “Am I spiritually sterile? If I am, why am I?”
Don’t let your lack of knowledge stand in the way of winning the lost. It used to be the plan of The Navigators in the early days that whenever the sailors were with us for supper each fellow was asked at the end of the meal to quote a verse.
I would say it this way, “Quote a verse you have learned in the last 48 hours if you have one. Otherwise, just give us a verse.” One evening as we quoted verses around the table, my little three-year-old daughter’s turn came. There was a new sailor next to her who did not think about her quoting Scripture, so without giving her an opportunity, he began. She looked up at him as much as to say, “I am a human being,” then she quoted John 3:16 in her own way. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only forgotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” She put the emphasis on the “whosoever” because when she was first taught the verse she could not pronounce that word. Days later that sailor came over and said to me, “You know, I was going to quote that verse of Scripture. It was the only one I knew. But I didn’t really know it, not until little Ruthie quoted it. When she said ‘whosoever,’ I thought, ‘that means me.’ Back on ship I accepted the Lord.” Today that young man is a missionary in South America.
Until several years after we were married, my wife’s father did not know the Lord. Here again God used children to reach a hungry heart. When Ruthie was three and Bruce was five, they went to visit Grandpa and Grandma. Grandpa tried to get them to repeat nursery rhymes. He said, “Mary had a little lamb” and “Little Boy Blue,” but the children just looked at him and asked, “Who is Little Boy Blue?” He thought they did not know very much.
Their mother said, “They know some things. Quote Romans 3:23, Bruce.” This Bruce did. Then he asked, “Shall I quote another one, Grandpa?”
“Sure,” said Grandpa.
Bruce began to quote verses of Scripture, some 15 in all, and Ruth quoted some in between. This delighted Grandpa. He took them over to the neighbors and to the aunts and uncles, showing them how well these children knew the Scriptures. In the meantime the Word of God was doing its work. It was not long before the Holy Spirit, through the voices of babes, planted the seed in his heart. “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength…” (Psalm 8:2).
Soul winners are not soul winners because of what they know, but because of the Person they know, how well they know Him and how much they long for others to know Him.
“Oh, but I am afraid,” someone says. Remember, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25). Nothing under heaven except sin, immaturity and lack of communion will put you in a position where you cannot reproduce. Furthermore, there is not anything under heaven that can keep a newly born again one from going on with the Lord if he has a spiritual parent to take care of him and give him the spiritual food God has provided for his normal growth.
Effects obey their causes by irresistible laws. When you sow the seed of God’s Word you will get results. Not every heart will receive the Word, but some will, and the new birth will take place. When a soul is born, give it the care that Paul gave new believers. Paul believed in follow-up work. He was a busy evangelist, but he took time for follow-up. The New Testament is largely made up of the letters of Paul which were follow-up letters to the converts.
James believed in it. “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only,” he said in James 1:22. Peter believed in it, for he said, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). John believed in it, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). All the writings of Peter, Paul, James and most of the writings of John are food for the new Christian.
The Gospel spread to the known world during the first century without radio, television or the printing press, because these produced ones were reproducing. But today we have a lot of pew sitters — people who think that if they are faithful in church attendance, put good-sized gifts into the offering plate and get people to come, they have done their part.
Where is your man? Where is your woman? Where is your boy? Where is your girl? Every one of us, no matter what age we are, should get busy memorizing Scripture. In one Sunday school class a woman 72 years of age and another who was 78 finished The Navigators Topical Memory System. They then had something to give.
Load your heart with this precious Seed. You will find that God will direct you to those whom you can lead to Christ. There are many hearts ready for the Gospel now.