The Passionate Ones

When it comes to making a lasting difference in this world, the only people who will get the job done are the passionate ones, with burdens on their hearts and prayers on their lips. It seems as if all my reading these days has been about passionate people.

John Vassar sure is a good example (1813-1878). What an incredible preacher he was in his day. He's the cousin of Matthew Vassar, founder of the famous women's college that bears his name. 

John Vassar had an intense love for the lost. Every moment for him was an opportunity to share Jesus Christ. During the Civil War, Vassar was there at the front lines of Gettysburg, preaching and ministering to the northern troops. After he got captured by General J.E.B. Stuart's confederates, he started preaching to them! Vassar may hold the record for the shortest term as a Civil War P.O.W. The Southerners sent him away after just a few days, eager to be rid of his constant preaching, exhortations, and prayers! 

The secret behind Vassar's powerful preaching is the same secret behind every good preacher: he prayed ... always, ceaselessly, for the lost. One close friend describes a period when he roomed with Vassar: "I rarely went to sleep without hearing John Vassar praying, and when I awoke in the morning, I would find him at prayer again." 

Vassar's consecrated zeal often offended the listless Christians in his community. When he wasn't welcome in a church, he would open up the schoolhouse and invite entire neighborhoods to come and hear him preach. When he wasn't preaching, he was going door-to-door, sharing his exuberant faith in Jesus Christ. In the process, he was constantly insulted, rebuffed and ridiculed; none of which had any effect on him whatsoever. He just kept joyfully sharing about Jesus, often with amazing results. 

One day an Irish woman heard that Vassar was coming to her neighborhood: "If he comes to my door," she announced to all her neighbors, "he shall not be kindly treated!" 

The next day, with no knowledge of the threat, Vassar rang her bell. When she recognized him, she slammed the door in his face and stomped off toward the kitchen. But a few minutes later, she heard singing out on her front porch: What? The guy was still there! When she looked out through the curtained window, there was Vassar, sitting on her porch, his hands folded in prayer and tears in his eyes, quietly humming a verse from Amazing Grace.

A few weeks later, the Irish woman surprised everyone by showing up at church. Later, she gave her life to Christ. When it came time for her to give testimony of her faith in Christ, she said: "It was that man on the porch and those tears of grief! They burned themselves into my heart!"   George Whitefield was another passionate one'. He had one consuming purpose: reaching the lost! Unwelcome in the church because of his 'excessive' zeal, Whitefield would stand on wagons and preach in open fields to hundreds and sometimes thousands of farmers and shopkeepers who emptied their towns to hear him speak. 

Whitefield rarely preached a sermon without his voice being choked with tears. Sometimes it lasted several minutes; listeners just had to wait it out, eager to hear what he would say next! 

Some found that excessive, of course, and derided him for it. During one such moment, a few Listeners started to laugh and sneer at Whitefield's bout of 'weeping'. 

Whitefield picked up on it; his response was a good one: "You may blame me for weeping if you like," he told the crowd, "but how can I help it when you will not weep for yourselves; you whose souls are on the verge of destruction? For all I know, you may be hearing your last sermon and may never have an opportunity again to have Jesus Christ offered to you." 

They say that there has never been a revival like the one Whitefield brought. You'll find it written down in our American history books under the heading: The Great Awakening. And Vassar is still considered "one of the greatest soul-winners of his century."

What was that Jeremiah once said? 

"Oh that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears. I would weep day and night for the slain of my people."  Jer. 9:1 

All I have to do is pick up a newspaper, turn on the TV, to get choked up about my people. America is such a spiritually needy place these days! 

Want to make a difference in this world? Join ranks with the passionate ones, dear Christian! Pray for your nation; weep for your land; labor for your Lord and keep sharing your faith!


See you Sunday, RAS

A Lot Like Uranium
His Intense Desire to Rescue!