Stories of Great Christians
In the chapter, How to Find the Elusive Will of God, I made reference to "Stories of Great Christians" put out by Moody Bible Institute. As mentioned earlier, Stories of Great Christians are dramatized audio stories of Christians from the past 600 years. Besides being powerful testaments that God still performs miracles which can rival the miracles of the Bible, these stories are rich with examples of God’s concern for us and His personal intervention in our lives.
Originally, I purchased some of these stories because they were enjoyable and entertaining to listen to. They were a great way to pass the time when I was driving or working on a project at home. Since each story lasts four to ten hours, I had plenty to listen to.
However, after listening to several stories, I began to realize they are more than just a wholesome way to pass the time. These tapes provided valuable lessons in understanding how God leads and directs. The personalities, talents and spiritual visions of the people in these stories were usually quite different from each other. As a result, listening to a large number of these stories provided me with a well-rounded view on how God works in the lives of believers.
My original plan was to purchase stories of the ten people I was most interested in. However, I ended up purchasing all 46 stories. Within a year, I had listened to all of them twice.
I Cor. 10:1-11 says the stories in the Old Testament were written for our example, so we would not make the same mistakes they made. The same can be said for the lives of the believers from the past few hundred years. There is much we can learn about God and how He deals with His children.
These stories also demonstrate God truly does use the weak and foolish to confound the strong and the wise. These Christians were far from perfect, both physically and spiritually. Although they exercised great faith and had a close walk with God, they did not always trust God. They didn’t always treat their mates in a way pleasing to God. Their methods and priorities were not always correct. Despite all their rough edges, though, God still used them. These stories are rich examples of God’s mercy and power. They provide hope and inspiration. You’ll even learn interesting tidbits like how Quaker Oats and Bird’s Eye Frozen Foods were founded.
You’ll see God is willing to and capable of using anyone. Physical limitations are not a problem. Although many of these Christians had physical disabilities (health, speech, vision, etc.), they still chose to follow God regardless of the cost. Some were plagued with illnesses throughout their lives while others were healed miraculously.
God truly moves in mysterious ways. These stories will give you a clear view of the "hand of God" moving behind the scenes. You’ll learn to trust God even though outward circumstances dictate otherwise. You’ll see how God uses what appears to be setbacks to actually advance His Kingdom.
Those who have lost a mate or a child will find comfort in some of these stories. Sometimes these losses seem so senseless. Yet, when you see God is more concerned about these losses than you are, it removes some of the sting.
Most of these great men and women did not view themselves as outstanding or highly successful. Their lives were full of mountains and valleys. At times they were riding on the crest of victory, other times they were discouraged and weary from the fight. Some of their darkest hours, however, were the sweetest times they had with God. Although they would never want to go through those experiences again, they would always cherish the special closeness they had with God. These people were often misunderstood and criticized by others. Surprisingly, some of the most critical people were their fellow "Christians." As Watchman Nee put it, sometimes you have to go "against the tide."
I feel Stories of Great Christians are exceptionally beneficial for those going into missionary work. A large variety of missionary efforts are covered in these tapes. There are two series I think should be mandatory for missionary candidates. The first is George Mueller. His life is a perfect example of living by faith. The second is Hudson Taylor. His story is not only another example of living by faith, but his successful ministry demonstrated the wisdom of not trying to "westernize" the people you are trying to reach.
I feel these stories are so helpful my wife and I have been loaning them out at church. So far, we have loaned out almost 200 copies. Of all the tapes loaned out, I’ve only heard one major complaint. Unfortunately, this complaint is common. Since the series was originally designed for fifteen-minute slots on the radio, on average it has a thirty-five second musical introduction and a thirty-five second musical conclusion. There is also thirty-five seconds of dead air between chapters. The year in which I listened to the entire series twice, I heard the introduction and conclusion about 7,000 times. It would be great if this could be eliminated. I’ve contacted Moody about editing the tapes for continuous listening and about putting them on CD. If you like the tapes, you might want to contact Moody yourself to encourage this editing.
Since I listened to these stories over such a short period of time, the death of these great men and women seemed to stand out more than normal. I noticed the same thing when I listened to the Bible on tape. I would quickly cover hundreds and even thousands of years. The lives of these people seemed like vapor in the air, here one moment and gone the next. It became apparent the length of a person’s life is not important, but rather the decisions he or she makes during his or her life.
We are often broken-hearted when a loved one dies. We are disappointed or confused when a Christian who was mightily used of God dies at an exceptionally young age. We think, "What a waste." However, we have to realize the person is now in his rightful place. It is like a ring on display in a jewelry store. Although it may look beautiful in the display case, its rightful place is on the hand of its owner. Likewise, our life here on Earth is only a temporary display. Our rightful place is in the presence of God.
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