Spying Out the Land


With passion blazing in his eyes, the old man wagged his finger. “Young man, next year, there’s going to be 100,000 atheist, communist youth gathered in our city. I want you to pray about preaching Jesus to them.”

My mouth dropped. The communists had built a wall around the city of Berlin. There were machinegun towers every two hundred yards to keep East Berliners from escaping to the West. I must have looked dazed when I told him, “That would be impossible. There’s no way they would allow that.”

A sly grin crept across his face. “With men it is impossible, but Jesus said that with God all things are possible. You pray about it.”I prayed about it, and God impressed deeply on my heart that He wanted me to share Jesus with those young people.”

I spent the next year “spying out the land.” I went into East Berlin several times to see what we would need to do to accomplish this seemingly impossible mission. The greatest thing I discerned was the absolute necessity of prayer. We would never be able to penetrate a communist festival without seeking God.

Once the communist youth fest arrived, we spent the mornings in West Berlin praying and seeking God. We then crossed the border around noon. God moved mightily and we saw nearly 200 hardcore communist youth come to Jesus.

When I did research for Twice a Slave, I discovered that Joseph Willis did something very similar. Before he went into Louisiana territory, he joined Richard Curtis, Jr. for ministry in Mississippi. He crossed the Mississippi River and traveled into Louisiana to preach the gospel long before he established a church there. In short, he spied out the land.

People often ask me how I’ve done the things I’ve done. A part of the answer has been to spy out the land. Discover the obstacles in the land and look to God. See the giants as Joshua and Caleb saw them. Then, trust God to give you the wisdom and guidance to overcome those obstacles. That means following the leadership of the Holy Spirit. His ways are higher than ours. But, they are always good. You can always trust His leadership.

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