How do you celebrate the life and ministry of an “ordinary” man used by God to launch church planting movements around the world, disciple Christian denominations, counsel internationally-renowned ministry leaders, mentor CEOs of billion-dollar companies, and reform the culture of one of America’s most violent prisons?
You do what that same ordinary man has done daily throughout his ministry — draw near to God through prayer and Bible study.
Such was the emphasis during a two-day celebration of Henry Blackaby’s 80th birthday at First Baptist Church in Jonesboro, Ga., as hundreds of people recommitted themselves to God’s call on their lives while also paying tribute to the author of the widely influential “Experiencing God – Knowing and Doing the Will of God.”
Since its debut in 1990, the discipleship study has been translated into more than 45 languages and sold more than 7 million copies. And yet the miraculous multiplied effect of its influence worldwide finds its roots in the early morning devotional time of an obscure Canadian Southern Baptist pastor whose own teenage daughter was battling cancer.
“This is an ordinary person who rises early to meet an extraordinary God,” said Richard Blackaby, the eldest of five children, president of Blackaby Ministries International and coauthor of the revised edition of Experiencing God, released in 2007.
Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, called Blackaby “a prophet of God” who has “taught millions and millions [of people] to say, ‘Speak Lord, Your servant is hearing.’ And he’s taught us how to position ourselves where we can hear the call of God and experience the call of God on our lives.”
Burl Cain, warden of the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola for the past 20 years, credited Experiencing God with setting hundreds of death row inmates and “lifers” spiritually free.
More than 2,000 inmates at the prison near Baton Rouge, La., have completed the 12-week study — helping spawn a 73 percent decrease in prison violence. “Experiencing God changed the culture of the prison,” Cain said. Now, hundreds of inmates are part of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s extension program within the prison.
Claude King, who coordinated the editing of Experiencing God for its publisher Lifeway Christian Resources, recounted that assimilating Blackaby’s pre-dawn devotional writings and teachings for publication revolutionized his biblical worldview.
“I realized so much of what I said was man-centered rather than God-centered,” King said.
Click here for more.
SOURCE: Baptist Press