HOW WE LOOK AT OTHERS MATTERS
By Dr. Michael Sprague
Do you know Edward Kimball? Most people have never heard of him. Edward taught Sunday school in a small church in Boston, Massachusetts in the mid-nineteenth century. He often felt like a failure while teaching the young men in his class. The kids fooled around or fell asleep in class. One day it seemed like the Holy Spirit pressed it upon Edward to visit the students in their homes or work. He did not know if the impression was God or bad food from the night before, but he acted in faith. He visited a Sunday school student who worked as a shoe store clerk and shared his hope in Jesus Christ and heart for all the boys in the class. The boy did not say a word. Kimball felt like he botched the opportunity. However, after work the boy went outside, sat on a park bench, and trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior. The boy’s name was D. L. Moody who went on to be one of America’s all-time greatest preachers. The story does not stop here.
Moody preached across America and Europe and influenced a British country preacher by the name of F. B. Meyer. At Moody’s invitation, F. B. Meyer toured the U.S.A. He challenged crowds, “If you are not willing to give up everything for Christ, are you willing to be made willing?” That remark influenced a struggling pastor named Wilbur Chapman. Chapman became a powerful evangelist and mentored the prominent baseball player, Billy Sunday who quit baseball to preach. In 1924, Billy Sunday had a huge influence upon men in Charlotte, North Carolina. These men wanted revival to come to their city, but Billy Sunday could not come again due to failing health. He pointed them to Mordecai Ham to hold a citywide crusade in Charlotte. The story does not stop here.
During one of the nights of the tent revival, a tall, lanky, high school kid with wavy blond hair named Billy Frank came into the tent. He accepted Christ that night. Can you guess Billy Frank’s last name? Graham! Billy has preached to more people than anyone else in world history.
All of this happened because an unknown man named Edward Kimble said “yes” to the Holy Spirit and got in the game. He was not a pastor, evangelist, but a Sunday school teacher. Be careful if you ever wonder, “How could God ever use someone like me?”
We need to look at people through redemptive eyes picturing who they might become. Jesus saw a hidden philanthropist in Zacchaeus, a passionate worshipper in Mary Magdalene, a world-changer in a terrorist named Saul. Who knew God would transform an agnostic professor named C.S. Lewis and Richard Nixon’s hatchet man named Chuck Colson, to be mighty warriors of faith in our lifetimes?
The next Billy Graham may be drunk right now. The next Mother Teresa may be placed in a foster-home this week. The next Augustine may be a promiscuous prodigal right now… just like the first one was as a young man. The Spirit of God delights in doing turnarounds. Do not forget Edward Kimball. God wants to use you.
Dr. Michael Sprague is the Louisiana State Chaplain with the Capitol Commission and President of Grace Adventures.
Michael holds a Business degree from the University of Maryland, a Master of Divinity degree from Capital Bible Seminary (Lanham, Maryland) and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. He served as Senior Pastor for 26 years in LA and MD. He has written two books – DISASTER: Betting the Farm on God in Life’s Storms and Stories from Katrinaland.
Donna and Michael reside in Mandeville, LA. In his spare time, he enjoys playing basketball, reading and traveling. His motto is “Bet the Farm on God.”
To find out more about Michael visit his website.
A special Thank You to Small Group Network for allowing CGM to use this feature photo.