Photo credit: Robbie Lucas
Last week I had an opportunity to visit with John Ott who spoke at PACE -- a convention I attended in 1986. I can still remember it like it was yesterday because he was an amazing orator — and shared powerful stories that moved the crowd … and moved me.
The emphasis of that conference was evangelism and we were challenged to make a commitment to lead one person to Christ during the coming year. Thousands of young people made that commitment and I found out last week that the following year they were able to do a survey (it was a small denomination) and over 7,000 people made first time decisions for Christ the year after that conference.
Seeing him again and reminiscing about the conference and some wonderful people that we both know and love reminded me of the impact that a group of people can have on the world if they are committed. Sometimes I get frustrated in my current role of getting the church to be the church and care for the vulnerable and marginalized. My frustration is less with other people and more with my inability to motivate and inspire.
But before I turn this into a therapy session for myself, let me bring us back to the original thought. I asked my Facebook friends who remembered the conference — and what they remembered about it. Now, 33 years later, they talked about the bus ride to the conference, the cute boy or girl they met, pranks they pulled, etc. and it made me smile. Teenagers, all caught up in the things that mattered most to teenagers, were challenged and stepped up to the plate. They don’t remember much of the conference, but because of them 7,000 people came to Christ.
I am sure that I been responsible, somehow, to lead that group of teens who were more focused on applying hairspray to their mullets or adjusting shoulder pads on their sweaters, I would have been frustrated and discouraged. And yet their commitment and what they did individually changed the world for 7000 people.
At that conference there was a theme song that we sang a couple times at every service. The chorus says, and I write it from memory:
We will carry the torch
We will lift high the flame
We will march through he darkness with the light of His name
Until the Glory of God is seen by the word
We will carry the torch of the Lord.
As all things, it is on YouTube and I chose the one closest to the way we used to sing it. Except most of us didn’t have a Filipino accent.