The role of the firefighter is not so different from a Gospel advancing leader

I stood in the Moody Church filled with emotions I cannot describe in words.  In 2015 I had the opportunity to attend Lead The Cause in Chicago.  As I sat listening to a kindred, like-hearted,  and now a very good friend and mentor Greg Stier  (who I had met in Israel earlier that year) share his heart and passion for a lost generation it resonated with my heart.  Seeing a Lead The Cause event in action, where teens and leaders were being trained, equipped and mobilized,  where prayer was a key focus,  I stood there with 300+ other youth leaders and felt the urgency for our generation in South Africa.  This quote was preached which had a great impact on me:

“Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure.” 
― D.L. Moody.

DL Moody set a generation alight with his absolute passion to reach a lost generation at the  Moody Church . I truly believe being in the very place where Moody preached, the city of Chicago, who he had a passion for really was a pivotal moment for me,  it solidified my call to reach a generation through a generation with the movement we had started in South Africa called GoLiveDare . The heart and passion behind the vision and mission of Dare2Share and a Gospel Advancing Movement was becoming clear to me and the hearts cry for our beloved continent of Africa!

Here is the story that inspired me  while being at the Moody Church. It was the Great Fire of Chicago, October 8, (my birthday) until early Tuesday, October 10, 1871.  This rapidly spreading fire killed approximately 300 individuals, destroyed roughly 3.3 square miles of Chicago, and left over 100,000 residents homeless.  This devastating fire would greatly impact the life of American evangelist D.L. Moody.​

Moody’s church was destroyed, as was his family’s home and the homes of many of his congregation.  Moody himself said that he was able to save nothing but his reputation and his Bible.  But there was a more disturbing aspect to the Great Chicago Fire that involved Moody, however. 

D. L. Moody held his usual service the Sunday evening the fire broke out.  At the close of the service, he asked his congregation to evaluate their relationship to Christ and to return the following week to make a decision.  This, he thought, would give them time to really think things over and result in a lasting decision.  He wanted to make sure that they were sure about accepting Jesus Christ, not wanting to pressure them into making a decision they wouldn’t stick with.  Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?
​While Ira Sankey was singing the closing hymn, it was drowned out by the sound of fire trucks and church bells.  To his dying day, Moody regretted delaying their decision to the following Sunday. 

It would be a Sunday that many in that meeting hall would not live to see.   Within a matter of hours, many of those who sat under Moody’s words were dead.  There is no way of knowing how many that night could have made their hearts made right with God had an altar been given, and there is no way of knowing how that sat under Moody’s voice that night many died in the fire and were not ready to meet God. As I thought about the fire and the many firefighter’s who were probably involved those days in quenching that fire, I thought about the task they have and the task we have as Gospel advancing leaders. 

“Imagine seeing a group of firefighters polishing their engine outside a burning building with people trapped at a top floor window. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with cleaning a fire engine—but not while people are trapped in a burning building! Instead of ignoring their cries, the firefighters should have an overwhelming sense of urgency to rescue them. That’s the spirit that should be behind the task of evangelism.

Oswald J. Smith said, “Oh my friends, we are loaded down with countless church activities, while the real work of the Church, that of evangelizing and winning the lost, is almost entirely neglected.” We have polished the engines of worship, prayer, and praise and neglected the sober task given to us by God.

Here are 5 helpful insights to the similarities of the role of firefighter and Gospel advancing leader.  

1. Firefighters recognize the urgency of their role.

The firefighter runs into the building when everyone is running out of the building, he has a sense of urgency to save people from the burning building.

The urgency of the gospel has propelled missionaries to all corners of the earth, often at sacrificial cost to their own lives, employment, and family.

Are we busy with trivial things?

I truly believe we are the most distracted generation that has ever existed, there is so much for us to do here on this earth, especially our teens, they are busier and have more pressure and more entertainment than ever. Teenagers check their phones 150 times a day marketers tell us. They need instant gratification. Are these the things that are propelling our teens to the trivial? 

Part of being a Gospel advancing leader, there is always that nagging and sense of urgency for the Gospel, it is a driving force, I truly believe the key to get a generation urgent is to really model out your priority, as Jesus lived out and modeled the priorities to His disciples. Being part of a Gospel advancing movement, this hints to one of our values, 7 values of Gospel Advancement Leaders fully embrace and model a lifestyle of evangelism. This is the key to reaching a very distracted generation.

2. Firefighters understand the value of teamwork.

The cornerstone of the fire service is teamwork, which is evident in every aspect of their profession. One firefighter puts it like this “It provides more people to get tasks done, it is always handy to have another person close by, but the biggest reason is my first item, if something happens, you need someone with you”.

Part of being a front-line Gospel advancing leaders is to know that you have the authority given by Jesus in the form of the The Great Commission. Jesus promises us His presence as He goes with us, as He is on mission with us. Not only that but we are part of the Global Vision 1 billion teens across the world. The only way we are going to be part of something global is to have a  global vision, and be on mission with the same urgency and passion as  D.L Moody. 

3. Firefighters are well trained.

I love this: “Veteran firefighters walk alongside new firefighters, teaching them even as they together fight a fire. This is an awesome picture of training young people to be the champions and reaching their friends for Jesus Christ. In the same sense Youth leaders have an amazing opportunity to train and equip young people well with the tools and training of Gospel advancement. 

As we press into truly what is important in advancing the Gospel on a global scale, and really looking at what Jesus has called us to do, and to move a generation back, from being

  • Institutionalized to Gospelized, 
  • Program focused to Passion-filled
  • Meeting driven to Mission Driven
  • Thermometers to to Thermostats

We need to act fast and become leaders who measure the right trajectories. What did Jesus measure? Our measure should be our focus. The outcome will be the fruit of what we would call Measuring the 5 stages of GAM

4. Firefighters love what they do.

 They risk their lives every time the signal sounds, but they do so because they believe in what they are doing. They know that lives depend on them.

I absolutely love what I do, this past weekend being in Capetown seeing 9 young people come to faith in Jesus Christ is what I live for, and seeing this generation trained and equipped to reach this generation. Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

I thrive on seeing young people get passionate about their lost friends, and really commit to a cause greater than themselves, and that is the Cause of Christ.

A former president, speaking at Wesleyan University about “service to one’s country,” says:

It’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential and discover the role that you’ll play in writing the next great chapter in the American story.

How do you “hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself”? By self-sacrificially serving that “something larger”—by giving up your personal, life-serving values for the sake of that alleged greater good. Such “change will not come easily,” explains the former president, “sacrifice will be required.”

 Every-teen, Everywhere hearing the Gospel from a friend. 

5. Firefighters have a Brotherhood

Firefighters have a solid bond with each other. One fire fighter said, “When someone asks me today, “What is the Brotherhood of Firefighters all about?” I tell them ….there are more than 343 definitions of the “Brotherhood of Firefighters.” It’s a feeling you can’t explain; it’s in your heart and soul. It’s a love of the job and the people who make it up. It’s when you find out a brother has terminal cancer, and you mow his lawn, shovel his snow, fix his car, and put that window in his wife has always wanted but he hasn’t got around to doing. Then, after he passes, you do the same for his wife and kids.

GoLiveDare and our partners Gospel Advancing Movement seeks to Energize the church by mobilizing youth to Gospelize their world. We believe in the local church and that God has mandated the church to “lead the cause”.  As a movement, we do not see ourselves as detached and have all the answers, or have the mindset of a us and them mentality. We have a brotherhood of like minded churches, as well as Gospel advancing leaders, globally, who are committed to the mission and vision of the task ahead. 

As I remember that day so clearly at the Moody Church, the people, the prayer, the passion, that place will forever have a special place in my heart, and the clear call to GO! 

DL Moody was used in amazing ways by God, and I love this closing quote of his, “If this world is going to be reached, I am convinced that it must be done by men and women of average talent.”

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