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I love reading stories from the great revivalists and evangelists. In fact, I own a number of books that recount wonderful healings and breakthroughs. Many of these are the kind of inspirational stories that make you want to get up and do something incredible for Jesus.
I recently pulled out a little volume called Miracles by the late R.W. Schambach (1926-2012). This book was originally published in the early '60s and recounts some of his experiences under salvation-healing evangelist A.A. Allen (1911-1970) and when he later launched his own ministry. This is an exciting little book that stirs up a lot of faith.
One of the stories Schambach shared in this book really leaped off the page. As I read it, I felt that it really needed to be recounted. As we think about evangelism and what it means to touch a whole new generation, this is the kind of story that needs to be shouted from the rooftops.
Schambach shares that he had been supporting a missionary to India for 30 years. He heard this missionary mention that he had never brought a Muslim to salvation. This statement made Schambach angry.
Concerned that his money wasn't doing what it should, he decided to go over and see for himself what was going on. So a big crusade was organized in India with over 50,000 in attendance. Schambach preached for hours; sharing powerful truths from Scripture. He assumed his anointed message would pierce the heart of the crowd. Yet, when it came time for the altar call, not one person out of 50,000 responded.
The missionary's words came to mind. Yet, Schambach had already decided that he wasn't going to stand for this. He knew God had called him to more than just preaching the Word. He was also commissioned to bring a demonstration of the gospel. Although the crowd was ready to leave, he told them, "I am not done yet. God says His signs follow the preaching of the Word. I have done my part and you are about to see Him do His part."
Then, out of the massive crowd, he invited three handicapped beggars to come forward. One was blind. Another was deaf and mute. The last was crippled. After bringing them up in front of the crowd, Schambach openly prayed in the name of Jesus. Healing came to the blind woman as well as the deaf and mute man.
He felt compelled to do something different with the crippled woman. He explained to the crowd that he was going to pray in the name of Muhammad, their supposed prophet, and see if anything happened. He got her up in front of everybody and prayed in the name of Islam's founder. Nothing happened.
Then Schambach said, "OK, I am now going to pray in the name that is above every other name. The name of the Savior, who is alive!" He then commanded the woman to be made whole in the name of Jesus. Strength immediately came to her legs in the sight of everyone.
In the aftershock of this moment, Muslims began jumping out of trees and running toward Schambach from all over the staging area. They were shouting, "Jesus is alive." A group of people who were once completely unresponsive to the gospel became radically changed within a few minutes. Many of them were passionately pursuing Jesus.
The preaching of the Word was essential, but the demonstration of power took things to a different level. Preaching prepared their hearts and provided a necessary clarification of Jesus' role. However, it was the signs and wonders that enabled the Muslims to truly visualize Jesus' authority.
This story reminds me that Christians are being called to greater displays of power. I'm thankful for all the wisdom and truth that we have to share, but sometimes God wants more to be on display. Believers must be willing to take a greater risk for the gospel.
Sometimes what we really need is a demonstration to go with our proclamation.
J.D. King, speaker and author, is the director of the World Revival Network.
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