I’ll often ask members of our congregation this question: “How many extra Christians has God made?” How would you answer? The answer, of course, is NONE! Every Christian is both needed and valuable in order for the body of Christ to become all God is calling it to be. In other words, every member matters . . . and that includes you!
Is the name Edward Kimball familiar to you? Don’t feel badly; not many people do. Edward taught Sunday school at Boston’s Mount Vernon Congregational Church in the mid-1800’s. One day an 18-year-old boy entered Edward’s Sunday school class; this is what Edward Kimball recalled about that first meeting:
I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon him, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was this boy’s when he came into my Sunday school class, and I think that the committee of Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness.
Not long after this encounter, Edward went to this young man’s workplace, a shoe store. He hesitated outside; Edward later admitted that he almost passed by the store altogether. But he went in, determined to share Christ’s love, and found the young man in the back wrapping shoes. Edward Kimball put his hand on the boy’s shoulder and asked, “Will you not give your heart to Jesus?” Moments later, the young man gave his life to Christ. His name was Dwight L. Moody, and he went on to become one of the greatest evangelists of that century, a man who led thousands to Christ.
Moody befriended F.B. Meyer and is often credited with encouraging Meyer to fully commit himself to evangelistic ministry. Meyer, in turn, had a profound influence on the Presbyterian evangelist John Wilbur Chapman. Chapman declared that F. B. Meyer’s teaching changed his entire ministry, saying, “I shall never be able to express in words my appreciation of what this man of God . . . did for me by personal influence.”
Chapman hired a former baseball player named Billy Sunday to work in his evangelistic outreach. In 1924 Billy Sunday conducted a series of revival meetings in Charlotte, North Carolina. A group of citizens, inspired by Sunday’s impassioned oratory, formed the Billy Sunday Layman’s Evangelistic Club, later renamed the Christian Men’s Evangelistic Club. Ten years later, this group was instrumental in inviting another evangelist, Mordecai Ham, to conduct a series of meetings in Charlotte in November of 1934. A sixteen-year-old boy was persuaded to attend one of those meetings, and that boy went forward to give his life to Jesus Christ. His name was Billy Graham.
You probably never heard of Edward Kimball . . . but you very likely heard of D.L. Moody, and who hasn’t heard of Billy Graham? And it all began with the faithfulness of one man: Edward Kimball.
So . . . what about you? You name may not be known by many, but God wants to use you, right where you are, to expand the cause of His kingdom. God has called, equipped, and empowered you to do His work in this world. But He won’t force you to do it. Perhaps God is calling you to lead a Bible study . . . a prayer group . . . a service project . . . or to speak the love of God into the life of someone who does not know this truth today.
Remember, there are no extra Christians! God has put you in the perfect place to do His work right now. Perhaps years from now, someone will tell the story of their conversion . . . the day you shined the light of Christ into their darkness. I cannot imagine anything better than that!
One last thought: years later after that day in the shoe store, as Dwight L. Moody was concluding one of his evangelistic outreaches, a young man came up to Mr. Moody and introduced himself as the son of Edward Kimball, Moody’s old Sunday school teacher. Moody inquired as to the young man’s spiritual condition, and finding no evidence of faith in Christ, led him to the throne of grace, where God converted his soul.
You just never know what God can do with a heart yielded to His will. If not you . . . who? If not now . . . when?
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!