“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17
There are some folks I’d love to connect with one more time before I leave this old world. Some were from Missouri. Others were from Louisiana. We and another couple were from North Carolina. One couple came from Virginia. Yet another found their roots in Brazil. But we had all found our way to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX and over a three year period or so grew extremely close. We prayed together, worshiped together, witnessed together, sometimes studied together, at times repaired our vehicles together and, from time to time shared together plans about our futures.
Ted & Cathy were heading to Africa. Richard & Rachel were committing to Chicago. Mike & Janice were going to Portugal. Roger & Sue were planning to serve in China. We had tentatively looked at a possibility in Oklahoma and more seriously at one in Tennessee; but had yet to hear precisely where God was going to lead us.
All of us cherished our time together knowing that it would shortly come to an end as God sent us out to varying places around the world. In fact, as time to launch out grew closer and closer we began to teasingly question each other, “E.E or C.W.T.? When you are out in the jungles of Africa, which will it be?” It was sort of our insider challenge more than a joke. Most would probably have no earthly idea what we are talking about, but let me see if I can explain.
It all had to do with evangelism strategies—ways of sharing the gospel. E.E. Stood for “Evangelism Explosion” a method of sharing the good news, created by Dr. D. James Kennedy, the then senior pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. It was such an effective method of sharing the gospel that the Southern Baptist Convention negotiated with Dr. Kennedy to use his method throughout the convention. As such, South Cliff Baptist church (the church where several of us were members in Fort Worth at the time) had actually become an international training center. People came from literally all over the world to learn how to share the gospel more effectively.
But then someone with a powerful enough voice to be heard within the ranks of our Southern Baptist Convention began to question if we were not smart enough to develop a witnessing strategy of our own. Thus was born a close facsimile of E.E. Called C.W.T. That stood for “Continuing Witness Training.” About that same time South Cliff’s senior pastor changed. So on the “meet the pastor night” before the prospective pastor would be heard and voted on the next day, one of the seminary students asked a very direct question about E.E. Versus C.W.T. The response of; “I see no need to change anything that doesn’t need fixing.” seemed to satisfy the inquisitor, but nevertheless six months later we found ourselves shifting from E.E. to C.W.T. as an entire church. And so our insider question began. It was really a reminder that the method didn’t matter, the mission was and still is the same. We were all to be witnesses. We were all called to share the good news wherever we went. Those connections and that phrase still stir the coals of commitment within me and create a yearning to connect yet one more time.
During those seminary days there were so many connections that provided not just comradery, but challenge and commitment, and concern, and correction and even change. As the scripture itself says, “Iron sharpeneth iron…” That is why it so excited me when we started talking of an “on Mission Connection Revival” here within our association. It is a chance for everyone in our Association to experience something of what we experienced in seminary—connecting with missionaries from around the world in a way that greatly enhances our commitment to God, our concern for one another, and our call to be a witness for Him.
Based on a simultaneous four-day revival format each participating church will have a different assigned missionary in their own church for each of the five meetings—Sunday morning, Sunday night, Monday night, Tuesday night, and Wednesday night. Not only will they get to rub shoulders with missionaries from around the world, we are praying the Holy Spirit will move powerfully among us during that time and we’ll see people come back in service and commitment to the Lord, we’ll see unsaved folks get saved and we’ll even see people get called to full-time Christian ministries.
But for that to happen, just like a regular revival, God’s people need to begin now to pray, and promote, and prepare, and pursue how God will use you to make it happen.