I am still amazed when I read the last two blogs. Still amazed at the sheer number that Art DeMoss affected for Christ before his death. 32,000.
My Nashville friends...that's one entire HALF of L.P. Field (Home of the Titans) Half of Lincoln Financial Field where my Eagles play. 3/4 of Citizens Bank Park. Almost the entire capacity of Wrigley field. You get my point.
Consider that Art DeMoss was also a very successful businessman, having run several companies including one of the largest insurance firms in the country, He was also an amazing father to his children. I knew his son David personally. His son Mark worked with Dr. Falwell as his Public Relations Director before beginning his own highly successful PR firm. His daughter Nancy has hosted "Revive our Hearts" on Christian radio for years. All of his children are successful, grounded in their faith, and Spiritually connected. What does this mean?
It means that in the middle of all the incredible time it took to develop multiple businesses and raise a family, Art DeMoss still made it a focused, concentrated effort each day to train to be ready to share his faith. He was of a mind to be looking for someone who was looking for Jesus. He must have had a keen sense of hurting people. People must have found him easy to talk to, a commanding presence, and authoritative, while simultaneously sensing that he cared.
It takes a lot out of you to run a large corporation. It takes even more to be a dad. ...and a deacon, and a friend, and a husband. Mr. DeMoss did all of these things with great effort and to great success. Yet he still won 32,000 people to Jesus Christ. He must have never said no to anyone who looked to him for an answer about Jesus. He must have gone nights on end with little sleep because he was witnessing on a redye flight across country, or on a train or on the phone while in his car.
He must have written letters filled with scripture and personal stories of his walk with Jesus. He must have truly been "ready to give his answer to the hope that lies within us". To be a highly successful business man and still win that many lost to Jesus you can't miss even one opportunity. You can't ever take a day off or slack your lines for even one hour. You have to be constantly aware of those around you and their needs and the opportunities to begin the conversation and lead it toward Jesus. It's a sacrifice and you can only make it if you truly love people. All people.
You have to love them beyond their faults, their heinous sins, their dreadfully repulsive acts. You have to deeply love them like Jesus loved them. You have to weep when their brother dies like He did over Lazerus. You have to become their friend when the rest of the religious world has stones in their hands and blood on their tongue, like he did the woman caught in adultery. You have to care more about the thirsty woman at the well and her repeated failures and the deeper need she had not for another husband to love her, but for the love of God to present itself to her. And even if she has a bad reputation and even if she is of a different race or group than you, and even if it's socially detrimental to even speak kindly to her...you have to take her the gospel too, and you can only do that if you love her. Love her as God himself loves her.
If I am ever going to win even one-100th the number of people to Jesus Christ that Art DeMoss did, I need to love them all the way there. I need to see their needs and their sins as the work of the enemy and not the work of their will. I need to see them as trapped and needing to be freed instead of rebellious and insulting to my high-handed superiority.
I have a friend back home...I have known him since the 9th grade. He is adopted and has never made peace with this. He is a chronic, horribly indulgent alcoholic. He tells enormous lies about his life because deep down he wishes he was someone other than who he is. He has told people he was a Navy Seal, a police officer, and owned a Budweiser brewery in Scotland. He has angered a lot of our mutual friends with his antics...especially those who served in the military and who feel that he steals from the honor they earned. I don't disagree with them at all. But perhaps it's because I know him a little better and I am familiar with his pain, instead of confronting him over his lies and probably never speaking to him again, I try to keep the door open because I am certain I am the only person speaking Jesus into his life. Believe me...it would be less draining to just confront him and lose his friendship. But somehow a long time ago God granted me a glimpse into his tormented soul and I can't turn my back on him. I might not win his soul, but I will try. Because I love my friend.
That sort of love is needed if we will ever approach a lifetime of soul winning as a way of life. Love must convict...or else there is nothing for the lost to turn from as far as they are concerned. But love must remain faithful. Because you never know if you are the only love someone has.
Mr. DeMoss surely loved people. Otherwise he would have switched off the overhead light and slept on all those red-eye flights. He would have gone to bed or watched TV with his kids instead of having that conversation on the phone or written that lengthy letter explaining the road to salvation.
He would have taken all the time used to memorize scriptures or pray for the lost and invested it in his companies, his kids, or his hobbies.
Instead, love for people drove him to his knees, to a few sleepless nights, and to a magnificent reward on that day when his life was called into account and the balance sheet was reconciled.
My challenge to myself and to all of us who name the Name...love people as this man did, because he loved them as Jesus did. He knew the value of a human soul and let that value drive his life.
You have to love people...