October 1, 2014
I attended Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary north of Boston, MA from 1980-1983. While there I had a professor of Missions named J. Christy Wilson. Dr. Wilson had been a missionary for years in… I believe… Pakistan. It might have been another Middle Eastern country… I’m not sure. Anyway, he was an amazing man of prayer.
Gordon Conwell had a student/faculty/staff directory that we called the “facebook.” Obviously this was long before Al Gore invented the internet and even longer before the current use of the term “facebook.” In our book were over 700 people along with a picture and personal information for everyone on campus. In January of my first year I had Dr Wilson for a missions class and I had heard that he prayed through the facebook every week… consequently he knew everyone at the school by name. Or at least that was the rumor.
As part of our class Dr. Wilson invited all 150 of us over to his home in ½ hour increments to meet with a number of missionaries. I arrived at my designated time along with Ellen and my son David who was 3 at the time. I was a little nervous. Like I said, I had been told that he would know my name but since our class was very large and I had never actually spoken to him I wasn’t really sure. I rang the doorbell. When he came to the door I said, “Hello, Dr. Wilson, my name is Bill Little…” Before I could say anything else he said “Yes, Bill and how are Ellen and David today?” I was stunned. Not only did he know and pray for all 700 people on campus, he knew and prayed for their spouses and children as well! I have said on numerous occasions over the years that if I can’t be like Jesus, I want to be like J. Christy Wilson.
I remember him challenging us in class in a way that I had never heard before. We were studying Matthew 28 which is often referred to as “The Great Commission.” It comprises some of the last words of Jesus and is a challenge to his followers to spread the Gospel to the entire world.
The Great Commission
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
What Dr. Wilson said to us was this: “It’s not a question of whether you are called to Missions. You are clearly called according to Matthew 28. It’s really a question of ‘are you called to stay home.’”
I remember a few students being angry with him over this. I think they didn’t like being challenged on their future plans. Frankly, it’s comfortable to envision being called to a church someplace, maybe near home, and doing the “pastor thing.” Well at least it’s comforting until one actually does it. But that’s a story for another time. That being said… his words don’t just apply to seminary students. They apply to all who call themselves Christians. What is God calling you to do in regard to making disciples of all people? “God is not calling me to anything” is not a legitimate answer… at least not for Believers. How is the Kingdom of God “furthered” because of what you do? How are you using the gifts with which God has equipped you?
I could be wrong but I think we are headed into a time when Christians will need to stand up and be counted. Our country continues to grow more and more hostile toward the Faith each and every day. A time will come when claiming to be a follower of Jesus will be frowned upon if it is not here already. Are we called to be comfortable “believers”? Or are we called to minister in the Name of Jesus so that all might hear? I can only hope that if and when the time comes to stand against persecution… I will not falter.