Robert H. Schuller
Bruce Wilkinson brings our message today. In my
mind he is one of the greatest men for Christianity in
the last fifty years. He is phenomenal. A
man after my own heart. He is a terrific possibility
thinker and really believes that, "If you have faith,
you can say to your mountain, move, and nothing will be impossible!"
been here before and he's led many of us to deeper commitments
that have enriched our lives with his book, "The
Prayer of Jabez." He broke records with over
ten million copies sold. It was phenomenal.
And then he got a calling to what he is doing now and
he will tell us about this because he has just come back
from Africa. Bruce Wilkinson has always based his
ministry on trying to do beyond our own abilities so that
we can operate in the realm of faith and that is exactly
the spirit of this church.
and his wife, Darlene, have three children, five grandsons
and they recently moved to Johannesburg, South Africa
to help with the famine, poverty and AIDS crisis.
The reason we invited him to share his message today is
because he can tell us what we can do with the famine,
the poverty, and the AIDS crisis in Africa.
love this church. I love being here. I love
walking on this property. I just felt like I was
one step away from heaven when I came on this property
read a book this past week that somebody gave to me, and
it traced the past fifty years of Christianity in America.
The book talked about how the transition in our country
led to the ministries of Bill Hybels and Rick Warren.
This book said that the grandfather of the mega church,
the one who began and influenced this massive movement
that it is today, is none other than Robert H. Schuller,
the pastor of your church.
know, only if you are a visionary, do you know the price
tag it takes to be the real leader, who is way out front,
who is on the edge. People like to shoot people
on the edge. As I entered this church, I thought,
do people realize how significant of a vision this Cathedral
ministry has been and is? When Robert and Arvella
Schuller had the dream of a very unique setting for God's
Spirit to dwell and to influence people, no one in the
country thought it could be possible. And your pastor
proved that by God's grace and the generosity of this
congregation, this church, time after time after time,
has been the church that broke through where other churches
didn't believe it could happen, and that other churches
rushed in behind and said, "Ohhh, not only can it
happen, but this is the way we should do it."
Look at what is happening today in many churches in America.
Thank you, Bob Schuller
the next few moments, I'm going to ask this church to
break through on a different level. I am going to
ask you to break through a threshold that I've never heard
of any church breaking through before. In the next
few moments I am going to share a problem, a need and
an opportunity and then I'm going to ask you to make a
decision at the end of these next few moments to come
with us to Africa this summer for ten days.
Bible verse I want to think about with you is none other
than my favorite passage, called the Prayer of Jabez.
I've just finished a brand new book called "Beyond
the Prayer of Jabez." I took each part
of that prayer and I wrote more in depth about it, because
people everywhere around the world said to me, "Please,
tell us much more about how you do this? How do
you live this way?" And I just want to read
that prayer to you.
called on the God of Israel saying:
"Oh that You would bless me, indeed,
bless me considerably. And that You would do a sovereign
act in my life, that You would enlarge my territoryíK" (I Chronicles 4:10)
my words, I pray that prayer this way: "That
You would give me more influence, more opportunity.
Not that I'll stop trying to do that myself, but I want
You, my Sovereign Almighty God, who does supernatural
things, that You, out of heaven, will come down and remove
the barriers that are around my life, whatever they may
be. Maybe it is the place where I'm comfortable.
Would You please, supernaturally, challenge me?
And would You take the barbed wire fence that has limited
me all my life and would You enlarge it for me?
I, in my heart, want to do more. As Jabez says,
'Would You please enlarge my territory? Would you
as a result of praying that prayer for a few years, look
at what happened. My wife and I weren't planning to move
to Africa, never thought about it in my life. My
wife and I were asked to come to Africa to minister.
After one week, she returned home while I stayed three
more weeks. In those three weeks, without any warning
whatsoever, no hint, no e-mail, no fax, no whispering,
nobody coming to me, I sensed I was going to be moving
to Africa. Out of the blue God took hold of my heart
and planted my heart in Africa íK without even
asking permission, as if He needs to, and said, "Now,
son, follow your heart to Africa." And my first
reaction was, "What! You've got to be kidding,
Lord." And I heard this whisper, "Aren't
you the guy that's been praying all these years 'please
expand my territory?' Are we going to argue where
the territory is?"
called my wife, we're very happily married, and I said
to her, "Sweetheart, I think you better sit down."
said, "In all our married years, you've never said
to sit down."
was a long pause. I could hear her heart beating.
Then she said, "Oh no! We're not moving to
Africa, are we?"
replied, "We're not going unless God confirms it
with you too."
happened in May and we moved in August. When God
I think He means "go."
We bought a house in Johannesburg, South Africa.
On the first day to work I come to a traffic light and
I saw people begging for food only three blocks from our
house. That bothered me, so I rolled down my window
and gave them some money. I came to another light,
more people begging for food and it was cold and I rolled
down my window and I gave them all the money that I had.
I turned left and thought to myself, I hope there is not
another light. Then at a big intersection, there
were all kinds of people begging for food. I didn't
know what to do. I had no more money and I just
looked straight ahead as if these people didn't exist.
And I felt ashamed, I felt guilty, I felt terrible and
I said to God, "What can we do? We're just
one little family. We didn't move here with a big
organization. We left all that behind."
couple of weeks later our son, who was also in Africa,
asked me, "Would you come and speak at a squatter
camp, where there is a little church of thirty people?"
I said, "I'd love to do that, Dave." So
I went and after the worship service I saw a thirty year
old young man who was looking very discouraged.
So I went to comfort and encourage him. Eventually
I put my arm around his waist, and when I did I could
feel every one of his ribs. I gasped out loud and
said, "Whoa! When is the last time you ate?
He said, "Ah, I ate this morning íK the bread
you gave us."
did you eat yesterday?"
bread you gave us yesterday."
said, "I've only been giving bread here for three
days, what did you eat four days ago?"
was the last time you ate?"
I said, "That's not right! My son, you are my Heavenly Father's
son and I can guarantee you one thing íV your Heavenly
Father doesn't want you hungry. You don't need to
be hungry and I promise you one thing, we're coming back
to help you."
I got in the van to drive back to Johannesburg I said
to my son, "Dave, what does God want done here?"
answered, "Dad, God doesn't want anybody going to
bed hungry day after day after day."
I said, "Okay, I agree with that. If God doesn't
want people to go to bed hungry then it is, therefore,
His will that they have food.
people of Africa think if they have a job they won't go
hungry, but there are places where there are no
jobs. Then we bring all this food over, and deliver it
to the people who desperately need it, but a month later
the situation is the same. With all the billions
of dollars for food that comes from the West and Europe,
there are more people hungry in Africa than in history.
More people have AIDS than ever in history and more people
live in poverty today than in history. What we've
done is not the answer!
there is a book that has God's answer to the hunger problem
in Africa. It's the Bible. I didn't know exactly
where, because I've never had to look for it before. It
has the answer because God doesn't leave us answerless.
So I said to my son, "What we are going to do is
to start reading the Bible, beginning in Genesis 1:1,
and we're going to keep reading until God tells us what
what we did. Two pages later, in Genesis 2:8-9 we
read, "The Lord God planted
a garden íK and made every tree grow that is good for
food." In the Garden of Eden,
God says to Adam and Eve, "I'll take care of the
food problem. I've given you these grains to eat.
You don't grow them, I grow them. I've given you
these fruit trees for you to eat from. You have
nothing to do with them, I have everything to do with
them and each one bears its own seed."
God's answer! Why don't we plant gardens?
we talked to UN AIDS, the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC), the World Health Organization and the major agricultural
groups in Africa and we asked, "What kind of food
do the people in the villages need?" And they
said, "They need immune boosting vegetables because
all they eat is ground corn and their immune system is
so weak that they catch AIDS too simply. And if
they catch AIDS, their immune system is so weak that when
we give them the medicine, they get sicker. So they
said, "Plant spinach and cabbage the first time,
and then the next season add six different kinds of vegetables."
And that's what we will do. Each season we will
increase the kind of vegetables that the people need.
we returned to this little squatter camp and began to
plant gardens next to people who had nothing. We
came just to help and in 2003, 950 families at the end
of that year had food. It worked. God's answer
December of 2003, I said to my son, "Dave, what do
you think we should do next year in 2004?"
answered, "Dad, we should plant a lot more gardens
because we shared our faith and many people came to know
Christ, and that little church of thirty people is training
their people to plant gardens. Now they have three
hundred people. We should plant more gardens.
The average family has eight members, so we should plant
10,000 gardens that will feed 80,000 people."
was praying, "Lord, is that the number you want?"
I didn't think it was. We don't set goals based
upon what we think we can do, we set goals based upon
what we think God wants done. Ladies and gentlemen,
that is very different. What God can do has no limit. So I prayed and said to my son, "What would
be a miracle so big that if anybody saw it, they would
say God did this?"
said, "Dad, 50,000 would be a really big miracle."
said, "How about 100,000?"
said, "That is impossible."
said, "Yes! When you pray the prayer of Jabez,
you ask God to bless you, to expand your territory íK
and then your territory gets beyond the money you have,
beyond the resources you have, beyond the people you know,
the time you have, the talent you have, and that's when
you need God to intervene from heaven and do it for you,
with you and through you."
Dave said, "How on earth can we do 100,000?"
said, "I don't know, but that's something God's going
to help us do."
said, "Dad, we have no more money."
said, "God doesn't need that. It isn't by money
or by staff or by strategy."
following month I came back to America to speak in Connecticut
to a group of business guys from Wall Street. I
said, "How about coming to Swaziland, a little country
at the bottom of Africa, the number one AIDS nation in
the world? It is a beautiful country. Pay
for your own ticket, we'll put you up in a hotel, you'll
be safe. We'll give you food and bottled water so
you will not get sick. There are no lions on the
road. You'll not be eaten. We will not take
you anywhere where there is danger. You cannot and
will not catch AIDS, just relax." And I said
to them, "How about it, will you guys come?"
guy raised his hand. "You want us to take off
work and come to Africa and plant gardens?"
(I don't think he ever had had dirt under his fingernails)
said, "Yes sir, and I want you to pay for it."
guys came. Then I spoke to a church in Johannesburg,
and I said to them, "Would you come for a week to
help plant gardens?" And ninety of them came.
We came to Swaziland with 122 people and I said to the
king of Swaziland, the Parliament and the cabinet, "We
believe God loves Swaziland, and no matter how hopeless
it is, God is hope and we believe God is going to help
Swaziland this week to plant 10,000 gardens in one week."
Everybody kind of smiled, a little laugh, and said, "That's
impossible." And I said, "I know. "
was the beginning of the goal of 100,000 gardens in a
year. It was already April and we hadn't even planted
one. I thought to myself, we need God to do something
miraculous in this week or we'll never plant 100,000 gardens.
God is going to have to show up. God's hand is going
to have to intervene. We had already met with the
chiefs in the villages. The people couldn't believe
Americans and South Africans had come to help. They
kept asking, "What do you really want? Why
are you really here?" Then they finally came
to believe it is because God sent us and because we cared.
I said to those 122 people, "I don't know how to
plant 10,000 gardens in a week, but God does. Let's
go, do it and share our faith and love with the people
as we go."
first day we planted 300 gardens and we were very tired.
And the volunteers said, "What was the number again?"
"It's 10,000." "Wow, how are we going
to do that many in one week?" "I don't
know." We changed the strategy the next day
and planted 600 gardens. The next day we planted
1,200 gardens and we had two days left. I said to them,
"Thursday morning, come back early because unless
God tells us what to do on Friday we'll never do it."
They planted 1,100 on Thursday. But I didn't plant
gardens; I stayed in my hotel room. I didn't sit
on the bed, I got on my knees. I didn't eat that
day, as I just stayed on my knees and grabbed hold of
God's robe and I didn't let go. I thanked Him that
He is the Father of the fatherless and I trusted His promise,
"I don't want people hungry and I want you to extend
your soul to those who are hungry until they are satisfied."
pleaded with God all day, "Did You exaggerate Your
promises when You said you can ask whatever you want and
I'll give it to you? Did You didn't really mean
it when You said, 'You can say to that mountain move and
it will be cast into the sea?' Now is the time to
next day, Friday morning, with only one day left, we went
out to plant more gardens, and at the end of the day,
I took a little piece of paper and I said to everybody,
"How many did you plant?" And each group
reported their number. That same night, we were
guests at a dinner with the U.S. Ambassador, the South
African Ambassador, members of Parliament and the Queen.
Everybody had heard about our planting gardens.
The whole country was talking about it. It made the front
pages of the paper. Then I spoke, "You know,
there is no way that this could happen. We didn't
plant 10,000 gardens in a week "we
planted 12,874 gardens!" And the
room broke out in applause.
a member of Parliament, in tears, came to me and said,
"We had lost hope in Swaziland. Maybe God really
does care about our country." The next day
I met with the King and I said, "How would you like
your country to be the first country in Africa where no
one went to bed hungry by Christmas time?"
He said, "That's impossible." I said,
"Sir, it's not impossible. The people of America
have a heart and God is hearing millions of your people
praying, 'please help us.' And in America people
are saying, 'God, please let me do more for You.' And
these two prayers are meeting and are being answered."
I have come here to the Crystal Cathedral because you
are a possibility thinking church. I need your help, and
the people of Swaziland need your help. The threshold
I'm praying for is that 500 volunteers will go to Africa
to plant gardens. If you are 13 years old with a
parent, you can come. If you are 18, you can come.
If you are 50, 60, 70 or 80, we need you! You'll stay
in a hotel, you are safe. But will you go this August,
2005, for ten or eleven days, August 15th or
16th from Los Angeles to Swaziland? And
will you give away yourself to people who need you.
I'm asking you to make up your mind, just like we made
up our mind about going to Africa. If you feel in
your heart, I would love to do this, but I just don't
know where to get the money to pay for the trip, I can
promise you one thing íK just turn your heart toward
the One who has it all and say, "God, I'll go if
You provide the money." And then watch Him
do it. So I ask you to be one of the miracles of
you do that? Would you permit the Lord, to ask you to
do something totally unexpected, if He wants you to do
something that you don't feel comfortable with? "Oh,"
you say, "I could never see myself doing that."
"Where would I get the money to do that?" "How
could I ever do that?" íK "Will I be
able to run away from the fear that I face?"
"Do I want to do something a little bit unusual?"
you pray this prayer with me?
in heaven, I just pause and I ask that You, Lord God,
would You visit me in a unique way. I pray with
Jabez, bless me and expand my territory. Would You
share Your heart with my heart? And that through
Your Holy Spirit, would You release me from the fear,
the anxiety and the uncertainty that I feel. Where
You are Lord, there is great liberty; there is freedom
to do that which I want to do for You. And Father,
You said that the field is white for harvest and to pray
to the Father that He would send forth laborers into that
field, so Lord that is precisely what I want to do.
I ask You, Almighty Father, that You would do something
with me that only You can do. In Jesus' name.