Healthy Leaders


How to Change the World Without Ever Leaving Town

Joe McKeeverJoe McKeever

Start with the children.

Frank Pollard used to enjoy telling about a friend named Claude Hedges of Ollie, Texas.  Mr. Hedges taught a class of 10-year-old boys in the local Baptist church.  Frank said, “He didn’t just teach the ones who showed up.  He thought every 10-year-old boy in Ollie, Texas belonged to him.”

Frank said, “I knew he was coming.  Because I was boy number seven in our house.  Mr. Hedges had led all my brothers to Christ, and three of us became preachers.”

Now, Frank is the only one of the brothers I knew, but let me pause to tell you this about him.  For over 25 years, he pastored the great First Baptist Church of Jackson, MS.  At one time, he served the FBC of San Antonio and then was president of our Baptist seminary in the San Francisco area.  Sometime around 1980, TIME magazine named Frank one of the 10 outstanding preachers in America. And, for a number of years, Dr. Frank Pollard was the featured preacher on the Baptist Hour, a television production that was literally beamed across the entire world.

Anyway …

Frank said, “I used to go back and visit with Claude Hedges.  I would say, ‘Thank you for doing the best thing anyone ever did for me.’”

By leading him to Christ.

Frank added, “Last year one of my brothers and I went back and did his funeral.”  One man. One little man, if you will.  Someone you never heard of who literally changed the world from his small town in rural Texas.

He did it without ever leaving town.

Frank Pollard has been with the Lord for a dozen years or more, I’m not sure.  Heaven alone knows how many lives he touched with the good news of Jesus Christ.

I think about Dennis Agajanian.  He’s billed as the world’s fastest guitar player.  The only time I’ve heard him was early in 2006 when Billy and Franklin Graham came to New Orleans for a weekend of ministry. In both services in the New Orleans Center, Dennis opened with a 10-minute presentation of guitar playing and testimony.  He said something I’ve never forgotten.

“When I was growing up, our church was so small, my brother and I made up the youth department.  Our pastor was 75 years old.”

That’s all he told us about that. But here’s what I’m thinking ….

Suppose you went back to that small congregation.  Suppose you told them that one day, someone from their church would be touching the world for Jesus, sharing the Gospel before vast crowds of people in huge arenas.  Would they have said, “Not us.  We’re too small.  We can never do anything important.”  Or would they have said, “You bet.  We’re asking the Lord to raise up someone from our church who will touch the world for Jesus.”

Wouldn’t you love to have been the one who led Dennis Agajanian to Christ … who taught him and encouraged him along the way?

Somewhere in your town, in your church, in your class, is someone who can become a mighty instrument of the Lord.  Someone just needs to reach them, to tell them of Jesus and to disciple them.

Are you teaching a class?  Working in Vacation Bible School?  Grandparenting some special children?  Volunteering in the nursery?  Raising your own young’uns?

Then you are strategically placed to make an eternal difference in this world for the really important things.  You can change the world without ever leaving your town.

But you have to be faithful.

Start by becoming a person of prayer and asking the Father to grow you, then guide you, and use you.  Pray for those children by name every day.  And encourage them.  They receive so much discouragement from people all around them.  You be an encourager. Believe in that child.  Love that child.  See him or her not as they are today but for what they can become.

Ask God to show you that child twenty years from now.  And then, go with that vison.

Let the little children come to Me … (Mark 10:14)

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