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Interview with Evangelist Don Currin
T R E A S U R E S OF T R U T H J O U R N A L E X C E R P T
TTJ: How long have you been in the ministry?
Don: Thirty-two years in the ministry.
TTJ: Have you ever been a pastor?
Don: I have been an interim pastor three times for a total of 2 months, 3 months, and 6 months.
TTJ: What do you like most about your ministry? What has been your favorite thing to do in the ministry?
Don: Being an evangelist. It is the most enjoyable because I am fulfilling my calling. I can't see myself doing anything else. The overarching desire of my heart is revivalistic evangelistic work.
TTJ: What do you see as the most difficult challenge facing the church today?
Don: The church is on the downgrade. It is on the downgrade theologically, methodologically, and philosophically. If you preach a straight message, it is not a popular message. Ministry in churches is so difficult because you cannot find very many that have not been victimized by the world.
TTJ: Why are we not seeing revival in the church?
Don: Leonard Ravenhill said "we don't have revival because we are content without it." Materialism and wanting to be entertained are opposed by spiritual disciplines such as fasting and drawing near to God. We are like the Laodicean church who "have need of nothing" (Revelation 3:17). We say we want revival, but our actions say otherwise. We are all content the way things are.
TTJ: Who is your favorite preacher of the past?
Don: My favorites are Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Robert Murray McCheyne, and George Whitfield.
TTJ: Where in the world have you preached? How different is it from preaching in the United States?
Don: I have preached in Scotland, Canada, Zimbabwe, Zambia, India, Guyana, Guatemala, Russia, and Mexico. In affluent countries you do not see receptivity to the gospel as you do in poor countries. In the poor countries, they really count the cost. In America we have reduced conversion to a prayer and a decision. But Jesus said He
chose the poor to be rich in faith.
TTJ: You are going to be involved with Heart Cry Missionary Society. What will that add to your ministry?
Don: We will assist in training young men for the ministry as well as taking pastors to the mission field.
TTJ: What is your favorite thing to teach?
Don: The need today is to see a teaching of the authentic gospel. I enjoy teaching on what is the real gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I often hit hard on the issue of complacency because many are unconverted and do not persevere in the faith. True Christians have grown cold and can grow at ease in Zion (Amos 6:1). But there are many professing Christians who do not really know the Lord Jesus Christ.
TTJ: How involved is your family in your ministry?
Don: Cindy works in the office, doing the books, and teaching women in our meetings. The girls do a lot of the work in our conferences. We have done women's conferences, men's conferences, child training conferences, a music conference, and a conference on the home. I could not do these without my family's help.
TTJ: What is the greatest hindrance to revival in our day?
Don: The greatest problem is unbelief. People are looking to counseling, a feel good gospel, or other programs. But Jesus said it is the truth that sets us free (John 8:30-32). God's Word can deliver us from any problem we face because it is all sufficient. But in modern times we have replaced the Word with a Cross-less Christ, a feel good religion, and produced co-dependent Christians instead of strong Christians with faith in God.
TTJ: What would you suggest to any Christian who feels his or her heart has grown cold?
Don: In Revelation 2:1-7 we have the message of Jesus to the Church at Ephesus. His message was to a church that had lost its first love. Jesus instructed these believers to "remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and do the first works..." (v. 5). A believer who has grown cold needs to get thoroughly honest with himself and God. He needs to ask God to point out where the starting point of repentance needs to be. In other words, you get back on track where you got off.
T R E A S U R E S OF T R U T H J O U R N A L E X C E R P T
TTJ: Bro. Bob, how long have you been in the ministry?
Bob: I served as a pastor for twenty-seven years and have been serving as a Jewish evangelist for nineteen years. Eight of those years was with Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry and the last eleven years has been with IBJM.
TTJ: How did you come to be interested in reaching the Jewish people?
Bob: David Levy came to my church in Chicago. He had asked if he could come and share how to reach the Jews with the gospel. He spoke for four nights and on the third night of the meeting my heart broke over God's chosen people Israel. Then the following Christmas the church sent us to Israel as a gift. While there an Israeli defense soldier carrying an Uzi machine gun asked us why we were there. I said "I have come to walk in the steps of Messiah." The soldier asked "Can you tell me who the Messiah is?" I started with Genesis 3:15 and went all the way to Joel 2:32 explaining who the Messiah is. He said "Thank you for telling me who the Messiah is." When we got home from Israel one Sunday the Lord told me to change my message. Unknown to me there was a Jewish man in the congregation that day. This began a ministry that lead him to trust the Lord Jesus as his Messiah. God used all these things to fill our hearts with a burden for the nation of Israel and the Jewish people.
TTJ: The New Testament says "to the Jew first, and also to the Greek". What should be the focus of evangelism concerning the Jewish people?
Bob: The Word of God is our guide. Start with Genesis 12:1-3 which tells us "in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." The Jews have blessed the world through the coming of Messiah. The Bible tells us that God chose Israel because He loved them (Deuteronomy 7:7, 8; Jeremiah 31:3). The book of Hosea the prophet says three times that He has loved Israel with an everlasting love. We should have the same focus that God has upon the Jews.
TTJ: What is the religious character of the Jews today?
Bob: Jews today are basically a secular people. 9% are orthodox, 13% are of the conservative branch, 23% are reformed, and 55% are secular or agnostic. This is how it is throughout the world.
TTJ: What is the situation of the Jew today?
Bob: The Jews are a scattered people by the direct will of God for them. The scattering happened because the world needed to know of the true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob so in the Diaspora the truth of the one true God was spread. The second scattering of the Jews was of Jewish believers who were scattered to tell of God's Son as the Messiah. The Jews are still scattered and at the Second Coming of the Messiah they all will be brought back to the land.
TTJ: What is the focal point of Jews as they look to the future?
Bob: Most Jews have no focus and are very temporally minded. For us, as Bible-believing Christians, Israel is the focal point of prophecy. Many Jews would say there is no Jewish Messiah, but that there will come a Messianic Age. Others would teach that there is a personal Messiah, but no life after death. Orthodox Jews would teach that everything is based on personal righteousness.
TTJ: How should a church become involved in Jewish evangelism?
Bob: First of all, believers need to develop a soul consciousness concerning Jewish people you might come in contact with in malls, restaurants, etc. I usually take this approach upon meeting a Jewish person. I thank them for three things: (1) for giving us the Word of God, (2) for giving us the Messiah, and (3) for giving us salvation, for John 4:22 says "salvation is of the Jew". Second, individual churches should support Jewish Missions and train people on how to witness to the Jews - specifically how to use the Old Testament to witness to them. Third, churches should support the nation of Israel and individual Jewish people in particular.
TTJ: What kind of attitude should we bring as we share the gospel with our Jewish friends?
Bob: One of the things we have found to be effective for us as we travel to Christian colleges to create a proper attitude is to simply share stories of open doors God has given to Carolyn and me to the Jewish people. This encourages people to desire to witness to them. Also, we tell them that it is not harder to win a Jew, it just takes longer.
TTJ: What are the major objections that Jewish people would raise against the good news of Jesus Christ as Messiah?
Bob: There are three major objections. The first is the Deity of Christ, Jesus as the God-man. The second is the miraculous virgin birth. The third is the Trinity which they view suspiciously as three Gods instead of one. These truths must be addressed from the Word of God when dealing with the Jews. However, it goes a long way to just love a Jewish person and not try to win them as a statistic. We must have the right heart to reach them.
Interview with Dr. Sam Wolfe
TTJ: Dr. Wolfe, how long have you been in the ministry?
Dr. Wolfe: I have been in the ministry for fifty-four years. Twenty-seven of those in the pastorate and twenty-seven of those as an evangelist.
TTJ: How different is ministry today compared to the time you began your ministry? How have things changed?
Dr. Wolfe: Things have changed greatly because people are more mobile and are busier than they have ever been in their lives. They do not take time for God's Word and prayer. Today there are many distractions with television being the most dominant one. There is a great need for old-fashioned discipline in order to get back to Bible study and prayer.
TTJ: How vital is evangelism to local church ministry?
Dr. Wolfe: It is the command of God. It is essential to be obedient to the Lord and to the growth and development of the church. When a family stops having babies that family will die out. So likewise, when the church does not have evangelism it will die out.
TTJ: Is evangelism happening in our churches today?
Dr. Wolfe: In some areas there is evangelism taking place. By far, I think that baptisms are declining. But the main reason is that evangelism is not in the heart of the pastor. Some pastors have the idea they do not have the gift and so do not emphasize it. Many pastors have not been trained and taught to do evangelism. If the pastor has a heart for God and a heart for people, there will be evangelism in the local church.
TTJ: Is gospel preaching at an all-time low? What is it to preach the gospel?
Dr. Wolfe: Yes, the gospel is not preached as it once was. To preach the gospel is to preach the message of the Cross which includes the blood atonement and the substitutionary death of Jesus. It is to proclaim, not just how to be saved, but why Jesus had to die and what was accomplished by the means of the death of Christ. When the Cross is preached, you preach the character of God and you preach that God works on the basis of truth and justice. The truth is He is a God of wrath and justice and His justice must be met. That happened at the Cross. Satan had a claim against us and that claim was our death. God viewed Satan's claim as legitimate and honored it. Therefore, He sent His Son to die that death that Satan had power over and that cancelled Satan's claim and God's justice was satisfied (Heb. 2:14).
TTJ: What is being preached instead of the gospel?
Dr. Wolfe: A lot of psychology is being preached in its place. There a lot of "how to" sermons on marriage, family, etc. While there is a place for these, they are no substitute for the doctrines of salvation. The victory of the Cross is for the saint as well as for the sinner. The victory Jesus accomplished at the Cross over the world, the flesh, and the devil is for us today. People who learn this truth and daily experience that victory end up with a far greater understanding and ability to cope with the problems and situations in our marriages and families.
TTJ: What practical steps need to be taken to make the church more evangelistic?
Dr. Wolfe: Evangelism has to be taught. It must be programmed into the ministry of the church. It should not be tacked on to the end of everything else. It should have the proper place of priority.
TTJ: Are there any special methods that ought to be learned for this?
Dr. Wolfe: God's people need to be taught the doctrines of salvation which includes what it means to be lost and what it means to be saved. Further, they must be taught how to present the gospel. The Holy Spirit uses these truths to convict and condition the unsaved for the understanding and reception of the gospel.
TTJ: Is the evangelistic meeting in the church becoming a thing of the past?
Dr. Wolfe: It is approaching that very rapidly. Many churches no longer have any revival efforts or evangelistic meetings. The meetings are getting shorter, are not well attended, and that is because of the lack of preparation and the involvement of the people. When it is the evangelist's and the pastor's meeting, it will not succeed. But when it is the people's meeting where the people have a heartfelt concern for the lost and for the church, there is more success. The key lies in the preparation in prayer, witnessing, and in means to encourage attendance.
TTJ: What has caused the lack of involvement of the people?
Dr. Wolfe: The major cause in most churches is the poor leadership of the pastor. People have lost the excitement of a revival and an evangelistic campaign. Nothing is more exciting than an atmosphere created by the awesome, hallowing manifest presence of God when a spirit of expectation grips the congregation. When they expect a response to the preaching of the gospel and when they get a taste of that joy of seeing somebody walk down an aisle to respond to God's call upon their lives to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior - that is a great experience! The experience is necessary to successful evangelism. Evangelism is like farming. You prepare the soil, break the ground, sow the seed, and cultivate and reap the harvest.
TTJ: What about after an evangelistic meeting when people are not saved like they were when the evangelist was present for a meeting? How should we view that?
Dr. Wolfe: Not every pastor has the gift of an evangelist and may not be a reaper like an evangelist is. But if the people will continue to have a heart-felt concern, God will honor that and souls will be saved.
TTJ: We have talked about this before. Is there an overemphasis on worship in our churches today?
Dr. Wolfe: Many people today are led to believe or expect a worship experience when they go to church. But if that worship experience does not culminate in obedience (a yielding, surrendering, evidenced by a commitment to the Lord Jesus) then that worship experience is not valid. Today the emphasis is often on what makes people feel good.
TTJ: What has caused this emphasis on worship in today's church?
Dr. Wolfe: Periodically there been changes in church history in style, music, and methods. Many pastors have come to believe that they must change to keep up. Legitimate change is proper and often necessary. But change for the sake of change does not secure the blessing and power of God. If change must be made, the bottom line is communication. Is the truth able to connect with the people?
TTJ: What produces a well-balanced ministry?
Dr. Wolfe: You must build a local church ministry upon three things: prayer, evangelism, and spiritual development. If any one of these is neglected the work of the gospel is going to be hampered. In the Bible you will find these three things emphasized greatly in Paul's letters.
TTJ: What part does prayer play in the work of the gospel?
Dr. Wolfe: The work of prayer in the church should be intentional. It is not a devotional activity, but a God ordained means of getting His work done. Strategic and systematic prayer is vitally necessary to the success of the gospel.
Interview with Stephen Stallard
TTJ: How old were you when you got saved and became a Christian?
Stephen: I was five years old when I was saved. It was November of 1988. My father had preached on the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16. I went to bed that night and was troubled about Hell and got up and asked my dad about it. That night he explained the gospel clearly to me and I received Christ as my Lord and Savior.
TTJ: When were you called into the ministry?
Stephen: About the time I was saved. Gradually, I realized that I never would be fulfilled apart from being a preacher of the Word of God. There was never some moment when it hit me. I just seemed to always "know" that I was called to preach.
TTJ: How have you learned to pray?
Stephen: I have learned mainly from my father and from Dr. Sam Wolfe, an evangelist who led my mom and dad to Christ. The personal method that has taught me the most and the one I prefer is to pray the scriptures back to God. Many great men of God throughout the Church age have recommended praying this way. The Psalms especially lend themselves to every trial you are facing and every feeling that is in your heart. I learned from my dad how to get the ear of God by seeing God answer his prayers mightily through the years.
TTJ: Have you experienced answers to your prayers?
Stephen: Yes, many times. Many times when my family or I have needed encouragement on a particular day, God has done specific things to answer. On one occasion my family needed $ 500.00 for some medicine and I asked God for the money. A few days later God sent $ 500.00 to our front door with a check written out the day I had prayed for it. It served as a clear testimony of the reality of God and how He cares for His children. The Bible says God knows how to give good things to His children when they ask.
TTJ: What is your favorite topic to preach from the Bible?
Stephen: Whatever I am preaching on at the time.
TTJ: What's the toughest lesson you have learned growing up in a preacher's home?
Stephen: The toughest lesson has been the fact that people you love and serve don't always feel the same way about you. They often do not realize that you have their best interests at heart as you minister to them. It reminds me of Jeremiah who was told by God to take a message to the people of God even though he was told they would ignore the message he was bringing. The greatest tools to overcome this are prayer and unconditional love.
TTJ: What have you learned as a Shift Manager at Chick-Fil-A ?
Stephen: I've learned a lot about how to operate a business with efficiency. I've had to deal with everything from the rising price of food to the ever present personnel problems. What I've learned will clearly help me someday in whatever church God allows me to pastor. I'll be able to utilize principles of effective salesmanship, manage the church with efficiency, and demonstrate that a true leader must always be a servant.
TTJ: Who are your favorite preachers?
Stephen: Warren Wiersbe, Adrian Rogers, Chuck Swindoll, John Phillips, Sam Wolfe, and my father.
TTJ: What are your goals for the ministry?
Stephen: I would like to pastor a church and write many books.
TTJ: How are you preparing for the ministry?
Stephen: I am attending Luther Rice Bible College and am in my junior year.
TTJ: You have authored a Christian novel. Could you tell us how that came about?
Stephen: The novel I have written, For the Sake of Honor, is the first volume of a Civil War Trilogy I plan to write. It came out of a lifelong study of the American Civil War and frustration with many current Christian novels. I have always felt that much of the modern "Christian" novels are secular novels with a coat of "Christian" paint on them. If you took away its Christianity you would still have most of the book left. I wanted to write something that was thoroughly Christian and could not exist apart from its Christian faith.
TTJ: You have taught many different age groups: adults, teenagers, and young children. How do they differ, and how do you change your style of teaching to fit the audience?
Stephen: My job has been to communicate truth to them in the most effective way possible. With children, my emphasis has been on keeping things "electric." With kids, being boring is a sin! With teenagers, I have found that respect goes a long way. They want people to treat them like adults. So, I have attempted to force them to think through the issues of Christianity for themselves. Adults are really the easiest group to work with. They are usually patient enough to listen, but are also mature enough to question your conclusions. The only possible solution is to faithfully expound the Word of God, exposing the mind of God to those who listen.
T R E A S U R E S OF T R U T H J O U R N A L E X C E R P T
TTJ: How would you define Revival?
Harold: Revival is a sovereign, sudden, and sensational move of the spirit of God among His people which consummates in the reaping of souls.
TTJ: Is revival possible in our day?
Harold: Yes. There is personal revival where the individual is revived. There is inter-personal revival where a small group of believers is revived. There is corporate revival where the majority of a church body is revived. There is always some sort of revival going on to some degree. Revival is that process whereby God lifts the church, as James Stewart said, from its subnormal state to a state of normalcy.
TTJ: What is the number one spiritual problem facing the church in America?
Harold: Unbelief. There is a systemized unbelief that would tell us that God has foreordained us to be locked into this Laodicean church age...that it is the will of God for us to be half-alive, half-asleep, and half-baked... [This unbelief says] this is the plan of God...things are going to get worse...the ship is going down...we might as well anticipate more and more apostasy. This is preposterous. This is charging God foolishly and with blasphemy. Because of the sinfulness of the times there is a tendency toward unbelief. There is also a cynical unbelief because of the experiences of life. Things go sour...bad situations happen...life experiences are tough. If not checked this becomes the practical atheism of unbelief. This is why Jesus said "when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). We don't believe that God will raise the standard because we have normalized carnality and normalized sin. It comes down to unbelief.
TTJ: You preached during this meeting on the wheat and the tares. Do you believe that there are a lot of tares (unsaved people) in the churches?
Harold: Yes. If there is no fruit there is no root. Let me qualify that by saying we can overstate sanctification tests for salvation. Lot does not fit the test of some, but the New Testament affirms that he was a saved man though his life had many failings.
TTJ: You also preached a message on Holiness and Unclean Lips. How bad of a problem is the "tongue" in the church?
Harold: It is a bad problem for me and I generally aim my preaching at me and I'll usually get it right about 95% of the time. The misuse of the tongue (speech) is a tremendous problem in the churches.
TTJ: How can a pastor prepare his church for a special meeting of a revivalist?
Harold: He can prepare the way of the Lord like John the Baptist did. You cannot work up revival, but you can prepare for it. There should be searching preaching, serious prayer, times of self-denial and corporate fasts. The pastor should emphasize the needs and sins that his particular church is dealing with. He should obey God in whatever He tells him. Blessing brings obedience and obedience brings blessing. The pastor should act on what he can and deal with what he knows. He should walk in the light as He is in the light. The best thing the pastor can do to prepare his church is to get revived himself.
TTJ: You preached a message toward believers this week on the need for identification with the Cross. What exactly does it mean for Christians to get back to the Cross?
Harold: There is a substitutionary side of the Cross (salvation) and there is a representative side of the Cross (identification). Thirty years ago many Bible believing Christians were afraid of what was called the Deeper Life Movement and some of their observations were correct. An overemphasis on identification without practical outworking in the life is a dangerous thing. But the most dangerous thing is for people to stay where they are [spiritually]. It is just part of the Bible (Gal 2:20). Being afraid of positional truth is unfounded. We have a Christian identity crisis. The average Christian tends to identify more with the flesh (old man) instead of identifying with the new man (Christ in you). Revival is waking up to who is inside you.
TTJ: There is a controversy in Christian circles concerning the subject of "Carnal Christians". Do you think there is such a thing?
Harold: There are definitely Christians who are carnal according to 1 Corinthians 3:1-4. However, I do not believe it is legitimate to come up with a separate category because it becomes an excuse for some professing believers in their carnality not to examine their own hearts concerning their salvation. Carnality is a possibility, but not an option for the child of God.
TTJ: Where have you preached outside the United States and how does the response you have gotten compare to the American response to your ministry?
Harold: I have preached in Australia, Canada, England, India, Ireland, Israel, Guam, Mexico, and the Philippines. I have found that people are the same everywhere. We all have the same ancestors and the same kinds of problems. Most of the people who invite me to preach are hungry for the kind of ministry and preaching I do. In America each church has its own personality and its own kind of response to the revival message that I preach.
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