The power of one person's obedience

I am continually astounded by the power of individual people to make a difference.

After The Hole in Our Gospel was published, readers started sending me letters, telling me how God has used them to do remarkable things. Sometimes they took in foster children or became adoptive parents. Others changed careers or sold vacation property so they could be more useful to the kingdom of God. All of them are changing lives, spreading hope, and making the Gospel tangible to people in need.

The power of individuals to change the world has been a theme in our culture over the last year. It was a single person who launched what became the Arab Spring. Protesting corruption and inequality, a street vendor set himself on fire, galvanizing demonstrations that toppled the Tunisian regime, and setting off a protest movement across North Africa that continues even now.

The Nobel Peace Prize last year went to three women who fought for change. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf opposed the Liberian dictator Charles Taylor and then became the first democratically elected female president in Africa. Leymah Gbowee, also from Liberia, led women through the streets of Monrovia in a campaign to disarm fighters who had been raping women. And Tawakkol Karman is the first Arab woman and youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She has worked for the rights of women and journalists in Yemen. Each of these women have had long, difficult struggles, but each has made an enormous difference in our world.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we also remember someone who took on a challenge and changed the world. I think of the new memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Out of a block of stone, he commands attention, but he comes out of obscurity.

Dr. King was the son and grandson of pastors. And after studying at seminary, he went down to Montgomery, Alabama, to pastor a church. He preached, shepherded, and cared for his flock. He earned a Ph.D. from Boston University. That same year, he took care of his flock by leading the bus boycott that launched the civil rights movement. Of course, that boycott itself began when a single person, Rosa Parks, refused to comply with the Jim Crow law that required her to give up her seat on the bus.

What all these demonstrators have in common -- from Martin Luther King, Jr., in Alabama, to Tawakkol Karman today in Yemen -- is the power of their ideas around the value of human life and freedom, along with the courage to take action at personal risk.

God can do so much with just one person who is willing to respond to His call. What He asks is not that we possess great skill or ability or fame. Instead, He simply asks for us to be willing to be used by Him. Whether that results in the liberation of nations or racial groups, or whether it means that one child can go to school, saying "yes" to God changes the world.


    Since the time that I was a young girl, I remember hearing rumors about Martin Luther King's infidelities. Apparently, the rumors are rather well documented facts. To this day, whenever I hear or read accolades about Mr. King's greatness, the knowledge of his undisciplined lifestyle still haunts me. Obedience? It really is too bad that he choice disobedience in such an important matter.

    to June: Although I am not an avid supporter of MLK, I also know that God uses people... not perfection. MLK's stand for civil rights changed America. King David's obedience to God brought the Ark back to Jerusalem. Christ is known as the son of David. Weird, huh? Both men were guilty of infidelities in their personal lives. Yet both had enormous affect on their world. I hate sin, yet I am a sinner. I have probably broken every commandment (if not literally, at least spiritually).. yet God has used me to teach His word. I am not worthy... none of us are worthy of His grace and mercy. We demonstrate obedience in one instance and total rebellion in another. Fortunately for us, Jesus was obedient to the Father from His first breath to His last. And fortunately for us, He loves us.

    Kathy--I agree with you wholeheartedly. I hesitated even posting what I did, because of the negative tone, and the fact that what I wrote would be perceived as judgmental. I am not judging the man, or anyone. Just saying that it was really too bad that he could not be obedient in such an important area. I feel the same way about JFK. Great president, little self-control in the area of marital fidelity. King David suffered the consequences of his sin, and he truly remorseful. I hope the same was the case for these two leaders.

    Those who hears and obeys God's Will can only be led by His Spirit. He might be pulled down by things he is not faithful, but only God can judge him in the end.

    SO no comment on the beatings,murders ect or any injustice or demonic behavior that surrounded him or the Civil Rights movement, or any positive thing that came out of all of that??? The courage it must have taken to endure all of that ignorance that he knew would murder him is astonishing enough. But in your own words RUMORS is what got your attention? God said judge not less ye be judged. God bless you.

    Not judging the man. Just commenting. We are all sinners, and all fall short.

    Thank you for the vision, courage, and inpsiration to write A Hole in Our Gospel.It seems the less I worry how I will be able to help others,the more opportunities and resources arrive. Some of the ways God has me help others is abandoned babies through the Door of Hope project, sending Bibles to China and Middle East,sponsoring four children in Africa.These are gifts I will be passing down to my children so they can continue to pay it forward as well.


    May God give each of us things we can do to make a difference! Since reading Hole in our Gospel I've changed a lot of things: sponsored 1 child and 1 family, gave up things to make monthly donations to NGOs to fight slavery and oppression of women, to rescue and care for victims, and dig wells. My whole life has changed. God be praised.

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