“No man is an island” is a well-known phrase that reminds us that our lives are not only related to other people but are dependent on other people. We all need other people to live; we are all interconnected.
But we are not just interconnected in the present; we are also interconnected with the past. So often, there is a thread that runs back into history that displays the way God has woven people’s lives to make them what they are meant to be. Now, sadly, the devil can also weave the decisions and choices that people make to cause the opposite to happen.
Let us look at a few examples.
Andrew Brunson spent two years imprisoned in Turkey. He had come to Turkey with his wife Norine as missionaries. “In 2016, Andrew and his wife, Norine, were arrested by the Turkish government on allegations of espionage and aiding terrorists. Though Norine was released soon afterward, Andrew was held for another two years before being released last year after significant political efforts by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.”
“Within 24 hours, Andrew and Norine had been flown back to the United States and were speaking in front of reporters at a press conference in the Oval Office, at Trump’s invitation. During that meeting at the White House, Andrew laid hands on Trump and prayed for him (Charisma.com).”
One of the interesting aspects of their story relates to the thread.
When Andrew Brunson was three years old, he received a prophetic word, that came about in an unusual way. There was an older man by the name of T. Stanley Soltau. When Soltau was a boy, he had come in contact with Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China. Hudson Taylor had laid his hands on Soltau and his brother, praying that they be set them aside for missionary service. Both brothers grew up to become missionaries.
Years later, Andrew’s mother asked Soltau to pray for her two children just as Hudson Taylor had done for Soltau and his brother.” So Soltau laid his hands on Andrew and his sister and prayed that they too would be set them apart for missionary service.
There is the thread – Andrew received from Soltau what he had in turn received from Hudson Taylor. The thread here related to missionary service. Both had received prayer and the laying on of hands.
While this one doesn’t include specific prayer along the way, there is an interesting thread regarding Billy Graham that goes back to Dwight L. Moody, the famed evangelist of the 19th Century, taken from the Bill Graham Center Archives (wheaton.edu).
Dwight L Moody traced the beginning of his Christian life to his conversation with Sunday school teacher Edward Kimball in the back room of the shoe store where Moody was working.
J. Wilbur Chapman was a student at Lake Forest College in the late 1870s, and at that time, he attended a Moody meeting in Chicago. After the service, he received personal counseling from Moody that helped him come to an assurance of his salvation. J. Wilbur Chapman became a co-worker with Moody.
Billy Sunday worked for Chapman for a short time as an assistant, helping him to organize his evangelistic meetings. Sunday had been converted through the ministry of Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. He went on to have a powerful and fruitful evangelistic ministry of his own. Billy Sunday held an evangelistic campaign in Charlotte in 1924 and a men’s prayer and fellowship group, originally known as the Billy Sunday Layman’s Evangelistic Club and later renamed as Charlotte Businessmen’s Club (CBMC), grew out of those meetings.
This group was later instrumental in inviting Mordecai Ham to Charlotte for evangelistic meetings in 1934. In turn, Billy Graham responded to the ministry of Mordecai Ham and became a Christian as a result of these evangelistic meetings.
There you have it. A thread that runs from Edward Kimball to Dwight L. Moody to J. Wilbur Chapman to Billy Sunday to Mordecai Ham, on to Billy Graham, and then through Bill Graham to countless others.
One of the most fascinating studies of what I have called the thread concerns Jonathan Edwards. I came across the article “Leaving a Legacy,” which detailed what can result through ‘the thread’ of one’s life.
“A recent study of two 18th-century men serves as a reminder that each life leaves a powerful legacy. Consider Max Jukes, who lived in New York State. Max did not believe in Christian training and married a woman of like character. A study of more than 1,000 descendants from their union reveals that 300 died prematurely, 100 were sent to prison for an average of 13 years, 190 were public prostitutes, and 100 were drunkards. The Jukes family cost the state $1.2 million, and they made no demonstrable contribution to society. Now, consider another 18th-century man who also lived in New York State. This man was a devout Christian and married a woman of like mind. A study of 729 descendants from their union reveals that this family has produced 300 preachers, five college professors, 13 university presidents, 60 noted authors, three U.S. Congressmen, and one Vice President of the United States. This man’s name? Jonathan Edwards, one of America’s great theologians and preachers that helped lead the Great Awakening.”
1. If we do have the benefit of a thread impacting our lives and ministry, then we need to be thankful and honor those who have gone before us.
2. We don’t have to have an illustrious family history to be successful in the world or the kingdom of God. Any person, through committing themselves to the Lord, can begin a new thread that will bless generations to come.
3. Some of you may want to go back and check your ancestry and see what threads are there.
Once again, I would love to hear your feedback on the subject of “The Thread.”
https://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/faq/13.htm (Billy Graham Center Archives)
Little, Michael “Are You Leaving a Legacy?” CBN News Report 1/97 (Virginia Beach:Christian Broadcasting Network)