A year of healing and searching

By Jerry Falwell

Sept. 11 forced people to take a new look at their lives. The security that we had known for years was now challenged as the fire of terrorism was suddenly burning on American soil.

While this abrupt arrival of terrorism in our nation sent waves of fear and shock into every American, that day of infamy also brought about what I see as three positive changes in our culture.

First, that horrifying day brought about a wave of intense patriotism and American pride that I have not seen since my youth.

Second, it brought to our attention that there are real heroes in our presence. They are our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, our co-workers. We witnessed countless examples of Americans who were willing to serve and protect well beyond the call of duty. Many of these people took their final breath with a courageous quest to save the lives of people they didn’t even know.

And third, in the year since the day that will forever live in our hearts and minds, I continue to find that our fellow Americans are intently searching for answers to some of life’s ultimate questions: Why am I here? Is there a God? If there is a God, how can I know Him?

Forty years ago, I coined a phrase to describe a strategy to reach out to large numbers of people asking these questions. I called it saturation evangelism – a strategy to capture my home town of Lynchburg, Va., for Christ. I defined saturation evangelism as preaching the Gospel to every available person at every available time by every available means. That strategy is still needed today – especially at this time when people are hungry for answers. I believe every person is reachable for Christ. If Christ died for all, we must be willing to take His message to everyone.

Half the people who have ever lived are living today. Since God’s primary concern is people, and since there are more people to reach with the Gospel than ever before, it is obvious that we must be willing to be bold representatives of Christ.

The early Jerusalem church members saturated their own community with the Gospel of Christ. This church was so powerful in its outreach that, within a few years, its critics accused, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6). The early church was a great church and performed its powerful and pervasive ministry without the many modern tools that we have at our disposal today.

Since we have more tools than any other generation, we surely ought to reach more people with the Gospel than our predecessors. A great church is built on the teaching and preaching of the Word of God, the power of the Holy Spirit, transformed lives, prayer, and people committed to world evangelization.

God has promised a greater outpouring of His Holy Spirit in these last days before Jesus returns. Joel 2:28-29: “And it shall come to pass afterward (in the last days), that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My spirit.”

Many might argue that we have more sin in our society than ever before, making it more difficult to build greater local churches. It is my belief that God is today pouring out Himself in a new way upon His churches and we have the greater power to achieve the greater works.

And I believe with every passing day between now and His glorious return (an event I am as sure of as the rising of the sun), this outpouring of God’s Spirit will intensify. Hearts are open as never before. Where the need is greatest, God’s power is all the more penetrating and transforming. Therefore, our 21st-century churches ought to have a greater impact on our communities, and become greater in numbers, involvement, influence and changed lives.