By Jack Cunningham
When I was a teenager I went to work with Brother Billy Cole. I told him that I wanted to be a preacher. He told me to be ready, that during a Sunday night service he would introduce me to the church and announce my call to preach.
I prepared myself for the introduction by wearing my best suit and tie. I memorized what I would say … I thought surely he would want me to say something since I am called to preach.
As was his custom … during a Sunday night service he stood me before the church … told the people of my desire to preach … then turned to me and said, “Anyone can preach. I want to see you pray for the lost.”
And with that he ask me to get down on my face in front of the whole congregation and let them see me intercede for lost people.
Earlier this year I set my wife on the side of our bed and begin to pour my feelings out to her about Home Missions and the work of God. I told her that I was going to resign as Home Missions Director because I had gotten so wrapped up in the day-to-day work of the division that I had somehow lost the passion for the job. Its not that I wasn’t doing a good job administrating my office and fulfilling my responsibilities … I just didn’t feel passionate about it anymore.
About one month after that discussion with my wife I traveled to the Ohio District to preach one service during their camp meeting. I took my best camp meeting message with me. During the service something happened to me while Brother Victor Bentley introduced one home missionary after another, asking each of them to tell what was happening in their life.
One after another, with deep passion for lost people, they told of how they had just taught their first Bible study … how they had just baptized an entire family … and how that someone had just received the Holy Ghost in their living room.
I sat on that platform, listening to those precious home missionaries, and wept as the Holy Ghost talked to me about not forgetting why we do what we do … I put away my notes and walked to pulpit and preached about reaching the lost … I wasn’t preaching to them, I was preaching to me.
Our only right to existence as an apostolic church is that we are seeking and saving lost people.
I told the Home Missions Board during this conference … everything we do, as a church, should be about affecting a lost and dying world. Every program, every project, every conference, every ministry, and every committee sponsored by this department will have as its single focus winning lost people … or we won’t be doing it!
It’s not complicated to understand the will of God … His will, for this endtime church, is to win the lost. Period.
I received a letter on September 13, 1999 … “Dear Rev. Jack Cunningham. My name is Juan Chavez. I am from Rev. Curtis Johnstone’s church in Monroe, Oregon. I have never met you but would like to meet you. Me and my family will try to make it to Salem, Oregon when you preach there next week. I forgot to tell you that I am 12 years old.”
“The reason I wrote to you is that three and a half years ago my dad backslid. I would just like for you, each and every time you pray, to pray with me that my dad would come back into the church. His name is Pedro Chavez. I haven’t seen him since he backslid.” This little 12-year-old boy then says, “It’s hard for me. Thanks for praying for my dad, and please write back. My address is on the envelope.”
He signed the letter “Your close, close friend. Juan Chavez.”
Because of the creativity and talents of Joan Ewing, Mike Williams, Terry Black and others … over the years the Home Missions has put on some fine services. People have asked me this week, “Brother Cunningham, what’s your service about this year? Do you have something good prepared for us?”
I want to announce to you at the start of the 1999 Home Missions Division, General Conference service … This service is not about programs and projects … Its not about Home Missions … Its not even about the United Pentecostal Church … This service is about souls!
By the help of God tonight we are going back to the basics … We are going back to the very reason God established a church in the first place … Its all about souls!
This service is about souls! It’s about emptying hell and filling heaven.
Every resource God has entrusted to us must be utilized, and wisely, to maximize the harvest of souls for eternity.
Every resource God has entrusted to us must be utilized wisely to maximize the harvest of souls for eternity.
We preachers know how to pray about our sermons … but do we know how to pray about souls?
We pray for sick family and friends … but we don’t pray about souls.
We often pray for better cars, bigger houses and high paying jobs … but we seldom pray for souls.
Our people need to understand the commission that Jesus gave his disciples to win the lost, places the responsibility squarely on our shoulders to be a witness. He promised to empower us to do the work but we still have to lay everything on the line to make it happen.
Our movement has had the attitude too long that it doesn’t make any difference what we do, just take everything as it comes, God will bless in his own time, is ludicrous. We must motivate them to see two things, we have the message and we are God’s greatest resource to distribute that message. God can and will use anyone that makes themselves available to him. Availability is more valuable than ability. We must never be too busy, too bored or to bothered to respond to God’s call to prayer or to soul winning. It must become our magnificent obsession. It must consume our very being.