It would be a very foolish individual who, on reaching the age of sixty, did not pause to reflect a little on where they have been and where they are going. I reached that significant date on 2nd June 2018. Reflection is also encouraged by another significant date: 2nd September 2019 will mark my fortieth anniversary as an evangelist. The result is that I find myself at a place in life’s journey that invites both a view backwards and a view forwards.
Looking back inevitably involves me asking, ‘What have I achieved?’ Here things are tricky for the evangelist. Much of what we do is invisible and spiritual, intangible to being compiled into spreadsheets or presented in annual reports. Mind you, the figures we do have surpass our expectations and humble us at how we have been blessed and fruitful, and we can only say THANKS BE TO GOD. Last year I spoke before 250,000 people.
It’s rare that I get long-term feedback on ‘results’ and it’s not something that I seek. Occasionally, however, and probably when I need them, God opens little windows onto the sort of fruit that he has produced through our ministry. So, recently I came across a university professor of biblical law who made a decision to follow Christ at Cambridge University when I led a mission there in 1990; the student who came to faith and now heads up an anti-human trafficking ministry. I discovered a church leader who, as a student, found what I said enabled him to encounter Christ; the teenage girl who came to Christ in Australia and planted a church with her husband – now with 3,000 members. I meet a man who tells me how meeting Jesus at an event I have now forgotten saved his marriage; I encounter a woman who says her empty life became a full one when she read a book I wrote and, as a result, trusted in Jesus. Forty years of ministry has produced thousands of similar stories.
Reflecting on the past I am humbled and profoundly thankful firstly to God who has graciously worked through me and (no doubt!) despite me. But I’m also thankful to numerous people (and this letter will reach many of you) who have encouraged me: not least Killy, my wife of thirty-seven of those forty years; our wise trustees of Philo Trust who have guided and overseen the ministry, and our staff who have served and supported tirelessly; and to all our supporters who have prayed and, in countless different ways, helped our ministry financially.
As I look back I also look forward. Reaching sixty is a useful reminder that the road ahead is shorter than that along which we have travelled. Such thinking is merely the honest recognition that every earthly life is limited. It raises the challenge of what we can achieve in the time remaining and here the word legacy comes to mind.
Concern for a lasting achievement strikes me as being a particular issue for Christians. If you believe, as so many people do, that this life is all there is, then the issue of legacy is relatively trivial. What does it matter what you did with your life or your wealth? Within a few decades no one will remember who you were anyway. The Christian, however, has a different perspective: death does not erase us from existence but instead transports us before a heavenly Father to whom we will give account for how we have responded to his kindness to us in Christ.
I can only speak for myself here but in the light of this I want to fulfil my calling fully. Maybe surprisingly, despite ministering for forty years I sense I have just finished my apprenticeship for a ‘time such as this’ so I am more pumped about the decade ahead than I was for the previous four. I believe with the team of colleagues I have now and our associate evangelists we can evangelise more effectively in this next decade than in previous ones.
As most of you know, the work of Philo is not just me but increasingly about identifying, training and equipping evangelists for the future. Long term, the very best legacy I can leave for the future is more people who share my vision and faith for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So as I have been grateful for your help in the past, can I also look forward to your help in the future? I want to build a legacy that will endure and I would like you to be part of that. Without being too pointed, may I ask whether you have considered your own legacy? In the light of history and certainly eternity, so much of what we all do is ultimately trivial – but evangelism is not. Will you help me and Philo do things that will have repercussions that will stretch on through lives, generations and, ultimately, eternity?
Can you prayerfully consider making a donation today or making a commitment to support us monthly? Would you please prayerfully consider adding us to your Will and tithing the value of your assets to our ministry? In these next decades we can then continue to do what we have learnt to do:
Preach the gospel and not allow finance to hinder – using every means and available method to do this. To proclaim the gospel in football stadiums and not to be prohibited by cost. We are in Singapore National Stadium for three days in May and Portsmouth next year.
Mentor and encourage hundreds of men and women to do the ‘work of an evangelist’. In January we hosted a three-day conference with 218 evangelists; I hope by 2022 that we’ll have 1,000 evangelists attending.
Equip the church to evangelise. We know that over 100,000 people have done our Natural Evangelism training course – by the end of the next decade we would like to have equipped 1 million people.
Produce books for adults and children to help them on their journey of faith and introduce them to Christ. Our publisher Chris Powell at Verité tells me he has printed 1.3 million books for us in the last ten years. God willing, in the next decade we can print 10 million and, as we did last Christmas, share the good news of Jesus by giving our book The Christmas Story to children in hospitals and hospices throughout the UK. And we are doing this again this Easter with our book The Easter Story.
Let’s do it together. And when we are promoted to glory, let’s look down rejoicing that our legacy is being used to help many more people to get there.
Information on how you can give and advice on leaving a legacy are below.
Writing a Will is one way that you can look after loved ones and invest in the Lord’s work after your death. It can provide peace of mind for you and your family. What are the benefits?
1. Your family is cared for.
2. There are no misunderstandings in the handling of your estate.
3. Your final requests are honoured and executed.
By leaving a gift in your Will to Philo Trust you will be helping us to expand our ministry in order that many more people across the UK and the world will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. To date, we estimate that over 250,000 people have made commitments to follow Christ as a result of our ministry and with your lasting legacy we believe that we will see thousands more make commitments.
If you have decided to leave a legacy to Philo Trust, we would be grateful if you would click the link below to let us know. This will allow us to first, say thank you, and second, begin to plan for the future. Likewise, please click the link if you would like to learn more about leaving a legacy to Philo Trust.