Michael Duduit continues his conversation with David Platt, senior pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama.

Preaching: You’ve really been influenced by some of your travel and interactions with Christians in the developing world. How has that shaped some of your own views?

Platt: There’s no question that time with brothers and sisters overseas—often in persecuted contexts or where people have little or no access to the gospel—that those times have been formative in my own life and leadership. Time overseas has opened my eyes to the global nature of God and His desire for His glory among all nations. How is my life in Birmingham, Ala., going to be a part of spreading His glory to all nations and advancing the gospel to the ends of the earth? This is what Scripture clearly says we were created for, but it’s not until we go into other contexts and see what God is doing in the world and learn from our brothers and sisters in those contexts that we begin to see some of the blind spots in our lives.

The transformation that happens in our perspective by being around and intentionally involved with brothers and sisters around the world in the Great Commission is very transformative. That’s why in my own life and the context of the church I serve now, we challenge everybody (if at all possible) to go and be a part of taking the gospel into another context, because it radically changes the way we view Christianity in our own context. In the process, we are humbled; we are challenged, encouraged; and we come back to wherever we live and realize, “OK, how is my life here going to be a part of the global mission of God?”

This is not something I necessarily have to wait for a calling to; this is something I was created for. There’s no question that my time in other contexts—whether in East Asia, Southeast Asia or Africa, where brothers and sisters are risking their lives to follow Christ, where men and women never have heard the gospel—that’s had a transformative impact on me.

Preaching: In the book you’ve got some amazing stories illustrating the power of the gospel in some of these settings. There was one remarkable incident with an Indonesian seminary student. Would you mind sharing that?

Platt: Within Indonesia, which is the world’s largest Muslim-dominated nation, I was in this seminary where every student is required to plant a church. In order to graduate, every student is required to plant a church in a Muslim community with at least 30 new baptized believers. These seminary students are incredible. I spoke at their graduation, and it was humbling to look before me and see that every single student had planted a church in a Muslim community with these 30 new baptized believers.

The most sobering part was one point in the graduation ceremony when we had a moment of prayer and silence for two of the classmates who had died in the process. These students are incredible.

I was talking to one particular brother; I changed his name in the book for his security, I call him Raydon. Before he came to Christ, Raydon had been a fighter. He was sharing his testimony with us. He knew all these fighting techniques. He was talking about how he could take people down. We were taking a mental note not to mess with Raydon!

He told us about one time when he was in an unreached village. He was sharing the gospel in this one particular home, and the witch doctor in that village came to the house. Those are very common—they have a real spiritual sway over entire villages with their incantations and curses. The witch doctor called Raydon out of the house, basically wanting to pick a fight with him. So Raydon said he got up and turned around, ready to walk out and go take the witch doctor down. As he was walking out of the house, he sensed the Lord saying, “No, you don’t do the fighting anymore; I do the fighting for you.”

So Raydon walked out, got a chair and sat down right in front of the witch doctor, looked at him and said, “I don’t do the fighting anymore. My God does the fighting for me.” He said the witch doctor began to speak; and as he began to speak, the witch doctor began to choke on his own words and gasp for air. Within a few moments, he had fallen over dead right in front of him.

Raydon said, “I didn’t know what to do. I had no idea. All these crowds were coming, so I just started to preach the gospel.” He said many people ended up coming to Christ that day; they just followed in the village. I do share in the book that I don’t think sitting down in front of people and seeing them die right in front of you is necessarily the best method of evangelism!

Yet at the same time, it was a clear reminder to me that 2,000 years ago there was a name that, when proclaimed, caused the blind to see, the lame to walk and the dead to rise again; 2,000 years later the name is still good. There’s power in the name of Christ and the gospel of Christ as it’s going forward to the ends of the earth. We can have confidence as followers of Christ, ministers of the gospel, that there is great power that accompanies the preaching of the gospel.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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