It is my honor to serve on the advisory board of Praisefest Ministries God has allowed me to preach on all FIVE of their cruises. We have been to Bahamas, Jamaica and now Haiti in June 2014. Dr Matthew Dunaway asked me to be in a commercial to promote their “WATER & WORD” relief effort. Over 27,000 Haitians die weekly because of E-coli and contaminated bacteria in the water. Newton, CT lost 27 precious children. Picture that classroom times 1,000 dying EVERY SINGLE WEEK!! Praisefest has partnered with Global Effect and they have designed a state of the art filter enabling people to bathe, wash dishes and clothes but most importantly drink worry free from the deadly toxins that have killed so many.
The video will be released in next month and I was asked to film a segment alongside Mark Hall – frontman to CASTING CROWNS, Josh McDowell, Dr Johnny Hunt – FBC Woodstock, Tyler Perry’s hit show “MEET THE BROWNS” with Mr Brown himself, David Mann and a few others! Initially, the plan was to fly me directly to Haiti to film on location earlier this month. However, due to costs and by adding other voices to the project the green screen avenue made much more sense and saved several dollars!
My trip to Texas was around the corner. My dear friends, Pastor Larry & Shannon Baker @ New Hope Church in Baltimore, MD where I have been blessed to preach several times said they had the green screen I needed to shoot the commercial. My four year old, Andrew and I drove the three hour round-trip in rush hour traffic to film. Shannon is a professional and we were out in no time. However, once the film was emailed to the proper media contacts to edit along with the other segments to make it complete opposed to “3-2-1 ACTION” we had HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM! Sharon said in all her years it had never happened before but the audio didn’t record correctly and our efforts were in vain. She got straight “A’s” for graciously willing to help out. It was dissapointing but not her fault and had to reschedule and do it all over again. It wasn’t the end of the world but time was running short. Short on me with a full schedule and shorter for those dying (literally) in Haiti to get help.
Two days later, I had the pleasure to speak at King’s Christian Academy in Callaway, MD for their Spiritual Emphasis and we had 34 students confess sin and profess Christ as Savior! Go God!! On Monday, March 18 it was my privilege to board a plane and fly to Dallas, TX. That evening I was honored by “Olympian of the Century” Carl Lewis, nine time gold medalist and Dr Sam Mings with the “Founder’s Award” from Lay Witnesses For Christ for our recent involvement during the 2012 Olympics Outreach. It was held at the gorgeous Dallas-Fort Worth Marriott in their grand ballroom at a black tie dinner in front of 1,200 at the annual Texas Christian High School Athlete of Year Awards.
The very next day, I had to catch a cab to ride 27 miles to Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas. They have a massive 16,000 member church and graciously agreed to loan me their green screen with their staff to re-tape the Haiti project video. The hotel desk clerk when securing my cab shared on the phone that I am a preacher. I didn’t tell her I was but she said that she could just tell when I initially walked in the lobby to check in. PRAISE THE LORD! The man who picked me up was Muslim. I jumped in the car and as I sat in the back of the taxi I could see the meter on and dying to run. At first he was rude, impolite and even told me the price would be higher than what he agreed to on the phone. I was tempted to bail. In baseball terms, he had three strikes and I was almost out (of the car). However, those who display love least often need it most. God said “stay put” and we were on our way. The first 15 miles, I let him do the talking. We talked about life, sports, business, politics and his family. I really believe when we LOVE folks first we can LEAD them from there.
At the 16 mile marker I asked him of his faith. His reply made me curious. He said “I am not a very good Muslim.” I thanked him for his honesty. We talked some more and on my left side of the interstate was a WHATABURGER hamburger restaurant. If you have not been to Texas you may be unfamiliar with this particular food chain. I said: “Whataburger!!” He said: “Do you want me to pull over so you can get something to eat?” In all my years of trains, planes and automobiles I have never once asked a cab to pull over much less turn around and get me something to eat. For starters, when you live BY FAITH you have to be conscious of the ever turning meter on the taxi dashboard. I have never found one to slow down or stop much less go backwards. Perhaps, I am “Frugal Frank” but he asked me again however we had already flown by the exit. I knew by turning around that was just adding more to the fare. This time, something was different. At this moment, concern for price was out the window. Not because I was starving en route to the video taping but I had a HUNGER to see this man consider Christ as Savior.
In my Spirit, the Lord told me to have him turn around and buy his lunch. So he turned around at another exit and came all the way back and we pull in to the restaurant. He said: “Do you want me to go to the drive thru or eat inside?” I asked him did he have ten extra minutes? He said: “YES!” We walk in and I told him to get whatever he wanted. He ordered a hamburger, large onion rings and Coke. I paid for our meal and now I am sitting across the table from my new friend (and taxi driver) and in between bites allowing him to ask questions. He peppered me with some spiritual questions and began to answer them in love with the help of the Holy Spirit. Talk about “fast food” God was serving up some SOUL FOOD!
We get back in the cab and with just over ten miles to go I gently switched gears. While I was in the back seat staring at his rear view mirror I could read his eyes. It was as if the Lord gave me a window to his world. He looked anxious, tired and running on empty. He was in his mid 50’s and he already told me he had a wife and two children whom were more adults than kids. I asked him if he believed in Heaven? He did and I asked him to describe it to me. He said it was “paradise.” I shared that I could relate. I asked him if he believed in Hell? His eyes got wide and said he did. I asked him to describe how he envisioned Hell? He said “It will be a place of fire and torment.” I told him I agreed completely, it reports that in the Holy Bible and he was surprised. From there I asked him how he could enter Heaven? He told me if he did enough for Allah than he might be accepted in. Politely, I asked if he died before he dropped me off at my destination what were his odds of going to Heaven? He looked down while driving nearly 70 mph and said almost embarrassingly “50/50.”
God spoke to my heart and told me to ask him what did he think of those odds? He said: “Honestly, not very good.” The next thing I said was without a doubt a dialogue between the Holy Spirit and me and His Presence that permeated the cabin of that taxi from then on. Knowing his eyes already looked weary and running on fumes I asked him if he ever lost sleep at night worrying about tomorrow? He said: “Yes.” I asked him if he ever stayed awake at night fearing of dying before the sun rose in the morning? He said “Yes.” I asked him if any of the stress in his life was tied directly to the fact that he was not certain that when he died that he would arrive peacefully at Paradise (Heaven). He said: “Yes! Yes! Yes!” In baseball, three strikes you are out! In wise words of my buddy, Evangelist David Ring in bowling – three strikes and YOU ARE ON A ROLL!!
I shared that every other religious leader was still buried in their respective tomb. I told him in 1995 (age 23) that I paid nearly $3,000 of my own money to go to Jesus’ tomb in the Holy Land knowing I would travel to see absolutely nothing. I told him the plaque on the tomb reads “Why do ye seek the Living among the dead, He is not here but HE IS RISEN (Luke 24:5-6)!” I told him him as Christians’ we don’t serve a dead god but The Living Lord. He liked that!
From there, I went from gradual to Grand Prix and when I saw the opportunity we went into over-drive (God and me). Faster than a Ferrari, I asked him if I could tell you that you could have 100% guarantee of Heaven would you be interested? His eyes while looking in the rear view mirror had me locked in like Tom Cruise in TOP GUN trying to shoot the enemy down. But this gentleman was no longer arrogant but available. He was no longer scheming for money but searching for The Master. He was still driving the car but God was leading the conversation. I shared in love but with Biblical boldness how Christ died on Calvary’s cross not for His sins but our sins (including the driver). I shared how His sacrificial death, shedding of blood and Bodily ressurection paid the SIN DEBT and by faith he could trust Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. He would take our shame and clothe us in His Righteousness. We could graduate from religion to a relationship and according to The Bible in 1 John 5:13 “KNOW that you have everlasting life.” I told him why “hope it” when you can KNOW IT!”
Just as the meter ticked that we had arrived at our destination. He was no longer looking in the rear view mirror but turned his head around to me in the back and said: “Will you pray for me?” I asked him if he were ready to confess his sins and trust Christ as His Savior and to be His Lord and way of life? He couldn’t nod his head fast enough. This 55 year old man acted like a kid and by God’s grace prayed with a child-like faith. In that taxi cab, he became a kid of the King when he trusted Christ. He even offered to knock off $20 from my fare. The irony is 27 miles before he was trying to raise it now he lowered the price. I recall when Jesus dined with Zacchaeus he said: “Lord, I will repay FOUR times for the wrongs he had commited.” That is not only restitution but renewal and revival all in one! Hearing that Christians and clergy are often considered the worse in area of tips I bought him lunch, paid the full fare and still tipped on top. Without question, when we LOVE them and LISTEN we can LEAD. Legalism is attempting to lead with no love. What the LAW couldn’t do GRACE gets done. When we go for the juglar first before getting to the heart of the matter (and stomach) we may miss out more than we connect.
Before flying home, I had the privilege to return for the second time and preach chapel @ First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas to their awesome students. We had three saved but 170 stream to the altar making various commitments to Christ and getting a burden for lost friends. I preached from Hebrews 12:1-3 “The Cost, The Cross & The Christ.” I preached about The Crowd in the Cloud, Christ on a Cross and Christians in a Crisis. God gave me that outline years ago during a season of fasting that will preach ALL day long. The day before I was sharing about Christ, His Cross and Coming again to one individual but very next day at one of the largest churches in the country. They move into their new $130 Million facility on Easter Sunday.
Immediately, after the chapel at First Baptist Academy I was whisked to the airport trying to catch my flight. This time I was not in a taxi but a car and it hit me like a ton of bricks! Looking in my rear view mirror last week I learned two things. What was a setback in Baltimore (driving three hours for a commercial that didn’t have audio) was a SET-UP from God in Dallas. Had the commercial worked in Maryland I wouldn’t have been in a cab in Texas. Our dissapointments are DIVINE APPOINTMENTS.
Plus, if we share our faith when no one is watching we will do it when a few others are watching. Regardless, if on TBN or a taxi it is always an audience of One. On Facebook, in one day I got over 500 likes and comments on this event. It also reveals that it is sincere when we minister not just “on stage” but off camera in daily interactions with others on the road of life. The Great Commission literally means “as you are going preach the Gospel.” No accident, that one of my all-time favorite tv shows is HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN. Every soul is saved one at a time and thank God for imperfections, Whataburger and U-Turns because God truly makes the cloudy – clear. The crooked – straight and gives us double for our trouble. THANK YOU JESUS! WHAT-A-GOD!!