I will forever remember as though we were standing there now, as you read these words.
The place: The walking bridge connecting the student parking lot to the bustling campus of Oral Roberts University, where the grandiose buildings and space age architecture were a daily reminder to the thousands of us students of Dr. Oral Roberts' charge to “Make no small plans here.”
The time: 25 years ago.
The experience: A life-changing encounter that would set the course for my spiritual future in ways I would never have imagined when I woke up almost late for class that beautiful spring morning in Tulsa.
With a mere six weeks remaining before graduation, and with a dream in my heart far bigger than myself, I was ready to go from this incredible place of preparation to be used by God to fulfill the Great Commission and reach our world for Christ.
Serving as a youth pastor in a local church, as a worship leader in another, carrying a 10-foot cross and sharing the gospel with whomever would listen across Tulsa, preaching on the streets, outside bars, leading evangelistic teams to Florida’s beaches during Spring break to witness to the masses of college students that swarm there from across the country—now coupled with my ORU experience—I was ready to spread my wings and take the next exciting step in God’s unfolding plan.
I drove my old car from the student apartments to campus, parked in the lot outside the Mabee Center and began my trek to class. I had done it hundreds of times. Grab my books, slam the car door closed and begin my brisk walk with a spring in my step to be sure I get to the first class of the day on time.
Connecting the parking lot and the campus is a simple white cement walking bridge spanning across a creek that divides the lot from the ORU campus, a well-traveled daily route. But I was soon to find out that this day would be unlike any other.
As I set foot on the bridge, I encountered a tangible presence and heard a voice that I knew only too well—and it stopped me in my tracks. Students scurrying to class by the scores walked past me as I stood still at the midpoint of this small bridge. Perhaps a minute passed, and now I was standing alone on the bridge.
I was unexpectedly stopped by a wonderful presence and challenged by the unmistakable voice of the Holy Spirit. The words are as fresh today as they were 25 years ago:
“Greg, what would you think if I called you to serve another man’s ministry that had the same vision that I have put in your heart, and by doing so, you would reach more people for My kingdom than if you did so on your own?”
I stood motionless pondering this heavenly proposition. A few straggling students passed by on the bridge, I’m sure wondering if this skinny 6-foot-9 motionless statue of a fellow student had lost his marbles!
Knowing how I responded to this divine moment would surely set the course for God’s future plans for my life. And marveling what a gentleman our God is. To present a “what would you think?” question, and not some “thus saith the Lord, you will do such and such …” command! I stood there and pondered.
Give up the idea of launching “my own” ministry … Serve someone else’s ministry that had the same heart as I do; reach more people; be more effective for the Kingdom of God. The more I mulled it over, it was a clear no-brainer!
“Sure, Lord. If I can be more fruitful and reach more for You by helping someone else who is already doing what You have put in my heart to do, then count me in!”
Two weeks later, the ORU chapel service guest minister—worldwide evangelist, apostle and prophet Dr. Morris Cerullo—was introduced to the students. Another life-changing encounter. As this servant of God spoke from the words of John 6:28, “What must we do that we might work the works of God,”the Mabee Center chapel shook as the anointing of the Holy Spirit was poured out mightily upon the students.
Soon all were out of their seats, dropped to their knees, and crying out for God to use their lives; as was I. As I slowly began to stand after this season of prayer and communion with God on my knees in this powerful chapel service, that same voice I encountered on the bridge spoke again.
“Greg, I am calling you to stand by Morris’ side and help him in the ministry.”
Immediately my plans to enroll in the ORU seminary that fall flashed before my mind's eye. I asked God, “What about my plans to attend seminary?”
A quarter of a century later, God’s four-word reply has proven over and over again to be the understatement of my life: “This will be greater!”
On my knees in that ORU chapel service, I could not have imagined the blessings that God had in store these past 25 years serving as the vice-president of ministries for Dr. Cerullo.
I have a beautiful, godly wife and eight incredible, healthy children. By the grace of God, and their hard work, each were offered full scholarships to attend some of the top universities in the world. I have three adorable grandchildren, and a praying mother that loves and includes our family and the ministry of Dr. Cerullo in her prayers daily. I have a younger brother, Glenn, who has a heart of gold, and another brother, Gary, who pastors one of the great churches in America.
I had the opportunity to stand by Dr. Cerullo’s side as communism fell (as he prophesied for 14 consecutive years prior from the platform of the Royal Albert Hall) and conduct the first historic public crusade in Moscow before 50,000 people in the Olympic Stadium.
I have been privileged to stand by Dr. Cerullo’s side and to give birth to week-long Mission to London outreaches from world famous Earl’s Court to capacity crowds of 16,000 per night for six successive years. These events shook Britain and garnered unprecedented national and worldwide attention for the message of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I have been fortunate to personally preach by a spontaneous miracle to 200,000 protesters on the University Square in Bucharest, Romania, following the fall of the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. I was in there meeting with key leaders who had invited Dr. Cerullo to conduct a national school of ministry and crusade later that year.
Now on my fourth passport, having been privileged to have seen millions saved, healed, set free, receive the impartation of the anointing, and being used by God on every continent … yes, there is unquestionably an incredible blessing waiting for those who will rise up to accept the calling to serve another man’s ministry.
To do so we will have to rise above a culture and an era that celebrates the entrepreneur, the self-made man or woman who blazes his or her own trail. That same spirit has permeated the church, particularly the independent, charismatic segments, where we are frequently bombarded with all the messages, encouragements, “words from the Lord” and marketing tools to launch your own ministry: get ordained, start your website, launch your own worldwide ministry and go!
In sharp contrast, Jesus said, “And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” (Luke 16:12, KJV)
If we agree that there is a calling to serve another man’s ministry, then it is my prayer that many will rise up from their church pew as a spectator each Sunday and find an exciting, blessed place of service alongside the ministry of which they are a part.
I Corinthians 12:28 highlights the importance of the ministry of helps in the God-ordained structure of the church, listing it right after apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, and gifts of healings: “And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues” (NKJV).
Kim Harrington of Master Builder Ministries said it so well in her article on “The Ministry of Helps”:
“People approach the church with pretty much the same consumer mentality they bring to the shopping mall—you better deliver the goods, be nice and user-friendly, or I’ll simply take my business elsewhere. The concept of servanthood and faithfulness, sacrifice and dependability seems to be a thing of the past, or at least something that doesn’t apply to church anymore.
The desperate need in all sorts of Christian ministries is for those who will dedicate themselves to the ministry of helps, a rather inglorious sounding title, but listed in order right after miracle and healing ministries in the above text. The Greek word translated ‘helps’ means ‘to lay hold of, so as to support.’”
In other words, a minister of helps is someone who commits himself to another ministry in order to support and assist in any way he or she can.
I’m impressed by the ministry team of Billy Graham in this respect. One of the great reasons for his enormous success has to be the dedicated team that has worked with him since the early 1950s—Cliff Barrows, George Beverly Shea, and others, have been with him from the very beginning. They didn’t see their work with Billy as a stepping stone toward their own independent ministries, but rather as a lifetime calling.
And in the process of helping his ministry, they have achieved personal ministerial success that they never could have attained on their own. How many records has Bev Shea sold, how many millions of people has Barrows taught over the years that never would have been possible outside of Billy Graham’s ministry? When you commit yourself to the ministry of helps, you lay hold of personal success that you might never have achieved otherwise.”
Is there a Barnabas, a Silas, a Timothy, an Aquila or Priscilla who is ready to serve the next Apostle Paul? Or is there a band of mighty men ready to serve the next David? An Elisha to serve the next Elijah? Or the next Kenneth Copeland who will serve at the book table of the next Oral Roberts?
God has ordained an amazing journey for you, and secret number one to experiencing this incredible blessing is settling the question once and for all. Yes, as a New Testament Christian, I am called to serve another man’s ministry.