Every now and then, I go to your web site, read what’s happening with you, and check your itinerary to see if you are anywhere nearby at a time I’m available to attend one of your meetings. I noticed this morning that you are taking some time here in the States, and you mentioned you love to receive mail. Hence, I felt prompted to write you a brief letter of thanks and gratitude.
I’m sure you don’t know me, but you have had a profound impact on my life. I’m sure I’m just one of thousands — perhaps millions — that you have touched in small but significant ways, but let me share a couple of ways you’ve touched my life:
I attended a conference you led in Detroit in June, 1975. I was a young man just out of high school. The conference was for those heading off on summer mission trips, but I was there for the conference. There’s not much I remember about that week other than the conditions were spartan, and I didn’t like any of the food being served. 🙂
Oh, and one other thing I remember…
One afternoon, we were supposed to pair up and go out in door-to-door evangelism. Everyone found a partner and headed out, but I didn’t find one and was left in the large sanctuary by myself, feeling lonely at being left out and guilty that I wasn’t out sharing the gospel. Evidently, you had other business and arrived a few minutes late. You saw me by myself and said “Let’s go!” Off we went to sell books door-to-door in urban Detroit.
More than anything that was taught that week, you, taking a teenage kid out evangelizing with you, had a profound impact on my life. Your energy, your enthusiasm, your compassion and your patience with some of the people we talked to were inspiring to me. I came home that summer, got some of my friends together, and we began going door-to-door selling Christian books in our neighborhood. Thanks for being such an example and thanks for not being too important to give some time to a kid just out of high school.
God used you again in my life about a year later. I was a devoted Christian who was growing and being used by the Lord. But it didn’t seem like I was growing enough or being used to the degree I desired. Consequently, I was plagued by discouragement. One afternoon, when I was particularly discouraged, I received your monthly newsletter. I can’t remember what was in the letter, but I do remember that you signed it with the verse reference: John 12:24-26. I looked up the verse that talks about a grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying (that’s what I felt my life was like). And then, it simply said, “if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” That promise, from that verse, signed at the bottom of your letter, meant the world to me. It was God’s promise to me. It was what I needed that day and, indeed, has been a source of strength and inspiration to me ever since. George, thanks for using that verse to end your letter; my life is different because of it!
Thirdly, George, let me thank you for faithfully following God all these many years. So many people start strong in the Christian life and then either walk away or lose their fire. So many commit themselves to fulfilling the Great Commission but don’t remain true to the calling. It’s so easy to do because missionary work is filled with disappointment and heartbreaks. Thank you, George, for staying on the path, for tenaciously following Christ, for having the world on your heart, for humbly accepting reproof from others, and for continuing to grow. You are an inspiration. By the grace of God, might the same be said of me when I reach your age.
I mentioned earlier that I’m sure you don’t know me (I doubt I had as memorable of an affect on you that afternoon we evangelized together in Detroit!), but let me briefly introduce myself.
My name is Tom Short. I am an itinerant preacher and evangelist with Great Commission Churches. My ministry takes me to campuses throughout the United States and, in recent years, to Europe and India as well. I still wish I was affecting more people for Christ, but each year, God uses me in the lives of thousands of people in the places I minister. I’m only 58 and believe my best years are yet ahead of me!
George, be encouraged. And keep up the good work. I’m sure I’m just one of many whom you have affected in ways you never knew and, for most, may never know this side of eternity. But God sees… and He remembers (Hebrews 6:10). And I remember, too, and so I say again, thanks for being used of God in my life.
I’ll keep my eye on your itinerary, and I would be honored to meet you, again, if our paths ever cross.
With much gratitude,