While I was in South Africa in May, I had the opportunity to meet Angus Buchan. Angus is an ordinary farmer with an 8th grade education. He was forced to immigrate from Zambia to Greytown, South Africa because of political unrest. Angus was a hot tempered man who neglected his family in his efforts to make his business succeed. Then he had a life-changing encounter with Christ in 1979. Once he came to know Christ personally, everything in his life changed. He began telling other men how they, too could find what mattered in life. Buchan’s message resonated with white South Africans who were facing enormous changes in their country. In 1994, the white government handed the country back to the black voters who made up 80% of the population. Soon whites found themselves being restricted from certain jobs as 80% of the employees now had to be black. Many white people were released from their jobs to make room for black employees. Land claims were filed against white farmers by black people wanting their lands. Crime began to escalate and the murder rate became one of the highest in the world. In such a confusing, turbulent time, Angus Buchan’s message was a godsend. He urged people to stop fretting about the future and crime and the economy and to focus on Christ instead.
Angus had a vision of thousands of men gathering on his farmland and being challenged to become mighty men of God. Angus opened up his property and thousands of men came. He did it again the next year and the year after. Incredibly, in April 2009, over 200,000 men met at his farm while Angus preached to them. In April 2010, over 300,000 men gathered. Angus also held meetings in soccer stadiums across the country where 60,000 men would gather to hear him preach. A movie was made telling Angus’ story entitled, “Faith Like Potatoes.” Angus also began the Beth-Hatlaim orphanage where he cares for 25 Zulu orphans. He also began the Halalisiani Farm School with 200 students.
On May 15th I was privileged to speak in a conference along with Angus Buchan. Angus is someone who has clearly been raised up by God for such a time as this. He speaks the language of ordinary people. He is passionate! During his message in the 7,500 seat auditorium of the Moraletta Park Dutch Reformed Church, he moved on and off the platform and in and out of the audience. At times he shouts and he often makes it clear he is just an unschooled farmer who has never forgotten the encounter he had with the risen Christ in 1979. Listening to him speak you marvel that this ordinary person can draw larger crowds than popular rock stars. Yet he clearly has the hand of God on his life.
It makes you wonder who else God is seeking to use during these critical days in our history. Certainly America is also at a critical juncture as a nation. Could it be that there are other, ordinary people God wants to raise up to turn people back to him in America? Oh that we would have the passion of Angus Buchan!
Speaking of God raising people up, I was also honored to join my mother and father at Lifeway Christian Resources in Nashville where they took time to recognize the 20th anniversary of the release of the groundbreaking book, Experiencing God. It is hard to believe it has been twenty years! So many stories could be told of how that material has changed peoples’ lives! Again, it was written by an ordinary person God raised up to deliver a divine message.
Recently I have read a number of business leadership books. One that I found interesting was by Stephen Denning entitled, The Secret Language of Leadership: How Leaders Inspire through Narrative. If you have heard me speak, you know I like to tell stories. I believe most people think in stories. At times people may feel like it somehow demeans a sermon to use stories other than those from Scripture but I disagree. Jesus, of course, was a master storyteller. He was constantly using metaphors, stories and parables to help people understand truth. While I was in South Africa, I met a man who had heard me speak when I was there three years earlier. I couldn’t believe it when he began to recall story after story he had heard me tell in my sermons when I was there three years earlier. He never mentioned the scripture verses I had used but he remembered all the stories and the theological truths they had presented. I would encourage you that storytelling is an art form but anyone can tell a story. If that is not something you have worked on, pick up a good book and practice telling stories that make a point. You might be surprised at the effectiveness of a good story!
In May I had the privilege of attending my son Daniel’s graduation from North Greenville University as well as my son Mike’s graduation from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mike is going to be moving to the Atlanta area to become the college and singles minister at First Baptist Church, Jonesboro where my brother Mel is the senior pastor and my parents are members. Daniel will get married on June 26 and be moving to Golden Gate Baptist Seminary in the summer. Mike and Daniel have their first book coming out this Fall called, When Worlds Collide which looks at what happens when teenagers and college students who were raised in church have their religious world collide with the ungodly, secular world. It is estimated that as many as 70% of kids who grew up in church will leave their faith when they are in college. It is a thought-provoking yet highly enjoyable book to read. We are praying it will help many young people to hold on to God and to let Him use their lives to change their world rather than letting the world change them.
These are truly exciting days to be serving the Lord!