Rite of passage parenting: Bragging on Jesus
Can I take a moment and brag on Jesus? When I started in the ministry, I pastored an African-American church of only nine members. The youngest was 69 and the oldest, 81.
I used to labor over what to preach every week. One day Archie, the chairman of deacons, noticed my struggles. He put his arm around me and said, “When you don’t know what to preach about, just brag on Jesus.”
What powerful advice! And ever since that day, I’ve tried to brag on Jesus everywhere I go. This is a special week. On June 1, 1993, I left a wonderful, secure job as youth pastor at First, Tulsa after serving there for 10 and a half years.
My family was happy. I was happy. But God kept pressing a burden on my heart to raise up the next generation of missionaries and, in the process, to disciple and equip these young men and women to become godly adults.
The day I turned in my resignation and began this new journey was the scariest one of my life. Lee Moore, whose company sold hunting products, gave us office space. Mine was next to the rack of deer urine. Don’t ask.
There I sat behind a metal desk, a map of the world on the wall. I fell at Jesus’ feet and asked Him to direct me. He said, “Seek and you shall find,” and I did.
An opportunity opened to work in Hungary, and God began putting the pieces together. Churches were planted as young men and women embraced their call to adulthood. Now, 20 years later, we’ve served in 47 countries, trained thousands of missionaries and seen God at work every day.
Can I brag on Jesus a minute? The Scriptures say, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
That’s true. For the last 7,304 days, we’ve never gone to bed without Him supplying our needs.
He’s taken care of every airline ticket, every meal. We’ve never had a night without a roof to sleep under, although sometimes it was thatched.
We’ve been able to pay salaries for pastors, church planters and seminary professors and give medical attention to those without it.
God loves to surprise us with His provision. There’s the “angel man” who comes by to drop an envelope that holds $5,000 at our door, saying, “I’m a delivery boy from God.” There’s the business owner who has a great quarter, and God places it on his heart to bless our ministry.
Most of all, the Lord has taken care of us through the widow’s mite, the $5 and $10 bills that add up over time. I could write a book about how He provides.
Hebrews 13:5 says, “Be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” As I’ve traveled the globe, I’ve lived in remote villages and major cities, gone underground, gotten stranded in third-world countries and had transportation fail to show up. You name it, and I’ve experienced it.
But the one thing I can testify is that He has never left me. He’s been with me on the highest mountain (He’s training with me for Mount Kilimanjaro) and on those days when I thought no one cared, Jesus was there. His promises are good and true.
Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). Not long ago, I was standing in a crowd when a young man spoke up: “Walker led me to the Lord 38 years ago.” Another one said, “He led me to the Lord 28 years ago.”
I don’t know how many people I’ve led to the Lord. I’m not a mighty evangelist or someone skilled in the art of soul-winning. I’ve simply followed Him.
And as I follow Him, He keeps bringing me to a fishing hole full of men, women and children ready to receive Him. I’ve led people to the Lord on airplanes, airports, street corners, a checkout stand in a grocery store, in churches, sitting on motorcycles, in jungles and major cities. I never planned to go to these places. I just ended up there when I followed Him.
One last thing: none of this could have happened without Jesus, for “apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The past 20 years are not about what I have done but what He has done. Anything worthwhile, anything eternal, is His work. He has allowed me to watch and experience His mighty hand.
Thank you, Jesus, for the past 20 years. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do in the next 20. Until then, I’ll just keep bragging on You.