Sam Rohrer: Well, in the midst of a degenerating culture, where life is increasingly cheap, God is spurned, and moral values repudiated, in the midst of that, God raises up a standard, and when the media and entertainment leads our culture and our next generation to glorify evil and perverseness as the highest pursuit, God raises up an alternative.
Sam Rohrer: Our nation and the world looks at the evil murders committed over the weekend in Texas and Ohio, and in particular, but killing is occurring all across our land as well. It reminds me of a society having rejected God and his moral standards, and it’s the time that we must remind ourselves that without a fear of God, without an embracing of his moral standards, without people living self-disciplined lives in the fear of God, as ultimately they will stand one day as the great judge of the universe determines our lives in reverse and looks back upon what’s happened, this type of depravity that we’re seeing, this carnage that we are now witnessing, will only increase.
Sam Rohrer: But today on this program, and I could go that direction, ladies and gentlemen, because the news is full, but on this program today, when most media will be consumed with developing the public narrative of why such murders are committed, speculating as to the greater conspiracy, perhaps about who was involved, and who was actually involved in, perhaps, thinking out these domestic terrorism examples, most media will be highlighting the narrative of the evil of guns, the evil of racial discrimination, and what laws should be changed to take away even more God-given freedoms.
Sam Rohrer: But all that being said, here today, I want to take a different direction, and I want to talk about some powerful good news and how to be an overcomer in the midst of evil. In fact, our general theme for today’s program is just that. Overcoming by taking truth beyond the church walls. We’re going to talk in just a minute with Alex Kendrick. He is a pastor, he’s a writer. He’s a Christian film producer of such inspiring films, as many of you will recognize, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous, and War Room.
Sam Rohrer: And then their latest film, Overcomer, being released August 23rd, just a few weeks from now. At the bottom of the hour, then we’re going to speak with another young pastor, John Mallonee, and what he is doing on the local level to be an overcomer beyond the walls of his church. All of this and more today on Stand in the Gap Today.
Sam Rohrer: With that introduction, let me officially welcome you to today’s program. I’m Sam Rohrer, and I’m going to be joined by Dr. Gary Dull, and again, our very special guest right now, Alex Kendrick, brother of Kendrick Brothers films. It’s Alex and his brother, and actually, I think another brother was involved in that, as well. But Alex, thank you for being on our program today. We really do appreciate it.
Alex Kendrick : Thanks so much. It’s great to be with you.
Sam Rohrer: Well, Alex, I know most people probably have watched one of your films, and they would recognize your face when they see you, and probably your voice, even to some extent. But before you tell us about your latest film Overcomer, which I want to get into more specifically in the next segment, I want to know more, if I could, about your journey from being a pastor at Sherwood Baptist in Georgia, there, where, I believe, you were the minister of media, I understand.
Sam Rohrer: But I want to know, what led you, and I would say your brother, and how that put together, but what led you to want to take truth beyond the walls of your church in the form of Christian films?
Alex Kendrick : So, you would probably agree with me that there are some that would go to the movie theater first on a weekend, rather than darken the doors of a church. And my brothers and I noted that Jesus often told parables or stories to impart truth to the masses. And we had been interested in storytelling through media for some time before that, as we were when we were teenagers.
Alex Kendrick : It starts with silly little videos. But my parents were praying parents, and they asked the Lord when we were young to capture our hearts. That began happening, especially in high school and college. And we began desiring to use the storytelling abilities that we were developing for the Lord.
Alex Kendrick : So in 2002, when both Stephen and I, my younger brother, we were both associate pastors at Sherwood Church in Albany, Georgia, we asked the pastor if we could make a low budget film for the community and and see if we could get it shown in our local theater as an outreach for people that necessarily wouldn’t come in the walls of our church.
Alex Kendrick : And that’s how it began, just as an outreach to the community in one local theater. And so we prayed and asked the Lord for his ideas, and we learned there’s a difference between a good idea and a God idea. And the Lord directed us to make a film about lordship. And so we made a very small, $20,000 movie called Flywheel. And when we showed it in our local theater, it exploded, and more people came than we expected.
Alex Kendrick : It lasted six weeks in our local theater, when it was only supposed to be there for one week. And the next thing we know, we had sold 1.2 million DVDs of the movie, and it went so quickly, far and wide, that the church prayed about it, and we said, “We think we have a movie ministry here that we didn’t expect to have.”.
Alex Kendrick : And that led to a season of prayer, and we made our second movie, Facing the Giants, about faith over fear. And then, after every succeeding film, we would go into a year long season of prayer, asking the Lord for direction. And so every movie has a theme, and through Fireproof, with love and marriage, Godly love and marriage, and then Courageous, the role of a father, biblical role of a father. And then strategic prayer was the thing for War Room. And now, Overcomer is identity in Christ.
Alex Kendrick : So, we see this as a way to impact not only the church, to exhort the church to be salt and light, but to spread the gospel. And so we’re very, very grateful the Lord’s afforded us this opportunity.
Sam Rohrer: Well, I tell you, absolutely, Alex. And we only have about 45 seconds left or so here, but I wanted to go with you just a little bit. You talk about choosing themes. A little bit of how God has actually led you to choose those themes. It’s a pretty big deal to choose the direction you’re going to go.
Alex Kendrick : It is, but through prayer, the Lord knows what needs to be focused on during any season, and so we believe he’s a better storyteller than we are. So that all came through prayer, and the Lord, through his word, through Godly counsel, would direct us to a certain theme, and we would focus on that for that season.
Sam Rohrer: And ladies and gentleman, we’re talking to Alex Kendrick right now. He and his brother lead Kendrick’s Films, and again, some of the films that they have done, which are so well known, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous, War Room was the last, and he’s just sharing with us how he and his brother, as pastors, felt led of God to do something beyond the walls.
Sam Rohrer: And now we’re sitting, some years passed, and now they’re coming up with another film called Overcomer. And when we come back here, now, we’re going to talk with Alex about Overcomer.
Sam Rohrer: Well, welcome back to today’s program. Our theme is overcoming by taking truth beyond the church walls. Well, on the heels of a very successful Christian film, such as Courageous in 2011, and War Room in 2015, the Kendrick Brothers, in conjunction with Affirm Films, a Sony company, and Provident Films, are ready to debut a new film entitled Overcomer.
Sam Rohrer: Now, according to brother Steven, Alex, who’s our guest right now, his brother Stephen, he said this. Quote, “First, we pray for a topic. Then we seek confirmation during the process. So we pour over Scripture, developing content that can be used for the film, along with the ancillary items such as books or curriculum.
Sam Rohrer: “The latest film, entitled Overcomer, is about identity, an issue everyone deals with, and everyone needs to answer the questions, who is God, and who am I? And the scripture deals with both of those things.” End quote. Well, it certainly does, and we’re going to talk now, specifically, with the producer and actor in the film itself about to be released, entitled Overcomer.
Sam Rohrer: Alex, as you look now at your latest film, actually, the newest one, the one’s going to be coming out here shortly, Overcomer, as I mentioned, the focus, as I have read, is on identity. You just described that the focus with the theme of your films are very, very critical. I would just want to know from you right up front, just shortly, and a brief answer here, why was this issue or theme of identity, why is that so important to, let’s say, our current culture, generally?
Sam Rohrer: Why is it so important to Christians living in our current culture? And do you think that it is enormously timely from the standpoint of when this theme and this film is coming out?
Alex Kendrick : Absolutely. Great question. It’s interesting to me that even in Scripture, when Jesus was about to begin his ministry, God the Father said, “This is my son in whom I’m well pleased.” So even God affirms who Jesus is. And then when Jesus goes into the wilderness, how was he attacked? It’s interesting that the enemy said, “If you are the son of God, he will do this. If you are the son of God, he will do that.”.
Alex Kendrick : In other words, he went after him largely based on his identity, but Jesus knew who he was. You see, whatever we believe about our identity will impact our behavior and our thinking. So if we buy a lie that our identity is only what we feel, or our identity is only the circumstance that we’re in, then we will behave accordingly. But when we find ourselves in the unchanging character of Jesus Christ and his word, then regardless of the situation, regardless of our feelings, we can take hold of who he says we are.
Alex Kendrick : So my identity cannot first be found in my job, or my financial status, or my feelings. It must first be found in the one who created me. So we believe the creator gets to define his creation. And so, if God defines who I am, then that is what truth is. I follow suit based on the word of God and what he says about me.
Alex Kendrick : And so, that’s what we want to say with this film, that to be an overcomer in crisis, 1 John 5:5 says, “Who is he that overcomes the world? Only he that believes that Jesus is the son of God.” So for us, we want to tell a culture that is confused over identity that you don’t base your identity on your feelings, or your circumstances, or what other people say about you. You base it on what is true about you, and what is true only comes from the Lord.
Sam Rohrer: Excellent.
Gary D.: That’s very interesting.
Alex Kendrick : [crosstalk 00:11:52].
Gary D.: I think that’s very interesting, and very important, Alex. I want to jump in here, ask two questions. One with a very, very brief answer, and then one that you can get involved with more detail. This is a very interesting and unique outreach of a local church. I’m sure that many of our listeners are wondering, what size is your church?
Alex Kendrick : Our church has about 3,000 members, of which about half show up every Sunday.
Gary D.: Okay, so it’s not a super large church. In other words, it’s a church that basically utilizes the ministry of the people there to do quite an exceptional ministry. Well, having said that, I think another question that many of our listeners will have is simply this. What has made so many of your films successful financially at such a low production cost when compared to the movies that are produced out in Hollywood, for example? And along with that, why are your movies so successful when so many of your actors are not the big glamor types that people are used to, but rather, just average people?
Alex Kendrick : That’s a great question. We believe that this is a ministry, just like feeding the poor, just like helping the orphan and the widow, that this is not to build movie stars or egos. We have a rule on our set that everyone there is important, that we treat each other with love, and that no one is a movie star, no matter if you’re on the screen or behind the scenes.
Alex Kendrick : We don’t do the movie star thing. So we see it as a ministry, and we want to tell stories of hope and redemption that draw people to faith in God. And so we use our money very wisely. We don’t just throw money at problems. We pray about it first, and so our small budgets are still able to achieve a level of excellence because of how we handle it.
Sam Rohrer: And Alex, I think that is a great, great testimony. That’s really ours here at the American Pastors Network as well. Never a lot of money, but God has expanded greatly the pulpit that he has given us here via radio and then TV, not in the film type thing that you’re doing, but what a pulpit. Wow, that is an amazing thing.
Sam Rohrer: Take another minute or two, and I’d like you to maybe share an example or two. The financial part, God has blessed, and that can be measured, and it’s gotten the attention of those in Hollywood. They look and they say, “How can this be done?” To which you can say, “God did it.” But can you share an example or two, perhaps, of spiritual success of maybe a life or so that have been changed by one of the movies?
Sam Rohrer: I know that probably more than one could stand up, and you could talk a long time, but just pick one or two, perhaps, that would be of an encouragement to our listeners about how God has taken what you have done and brought spiritual success in people’s lives.
Alex Kendrick : Absolutely. I’m going to tell you three examples very briefly. When Fireproof came out, there was a husband who was considering leaving his wife. They had marital trouble, and he had already taken his wedding ring off and put it in his glove compartment box in his car, and he wanted to see a movie one Friday night. He was angry with his wife, so he went by himself, and the movie he chose was Fireproof, not realizing that it had a spiritual component to it.
Alex Kendrick : He sat in the theater. By the end of the film, he was weeping, and he realized he had not truly dedicated his marriage or his feelings to the Lord. Went out to his car, put his ring back on, went home and apologized to his wife for not being the spiritual leader, and they began to go to counseling, and rededicated their marriage.
Alex Kendrick : And when Courageous came out, we had a number of men come to us and say that, although they enjoyed watching the film as a form of entertainment, that they were convicted that they had not taken the steering wheel of spiritual leadership in their homes, and they began discipling their children instead of just trying to placate or entertain them all the time, and that God turned their hearts back to their kids.
Alex Kendrick : We heard numerous fathers say that. We just showed Overcomer to some test audiences, and there was one girl who had a deformity when she was born. This is not anything that she chose. And her friends had been bullying and making fun of her. She was very young, still in high school.
Alex Kendrick : And she came to us crying, and said, “For the first time, I realize I have been putting my identity in what others feel about me instead of the fact that God is in control of my life and he sits on the throne. I now recognize I must put my identity in what he says before anything else.” So when you have those kinds of responses, that’s so encouraging for us, because we begin to see the spiritual fruit of all our prayers.
Sam Rohrer: Alex, those are tremendous examples, and I know, from the standpoint of the identity part, I know that the younger generation in particular is struggling with identity and trying to find it in so many, many, many different things. But as you’ve said, and as we believe, only when we have found our identity in Jesus Christ can we find our identity and purpose for living.
Sam Rohrer: And that’s what your movie is all about. Now, tell us in the last minute or half here, before we have to close out this segment with you, Alex, when is the film going to be coming out? How are people going to be able to see it, and perhaps, if they want to find out any advanced information, where should they go to do that?
Alex Kendrick : The film comes out in theaters August the 23rd in theaters all over North America, including Canada, Mexico, and other places. So it’s in theaters August 23rd. You can go to overcomermovie.com to find theaters, to buy tickets, to see clips from the film, and to read about the synopsis of the plot.
Alex Kendrick : So overcomermovie.com. It comes out August 23rd. And again, if people will see it opening weekend, our distributor, which is Sony, they’ll put it in even more theaters. And that’s exciting for us, because we want as many people as possible to see this, the truth of what God says about identity and more people are ministered to. So I’m hopeful that people will see it August 23rd weekend.
Sam Rohrer: Okay. Overcomermovie.com, ladies and gentlemen, is where you can go to find it out. And just before you leave, Alex, you are in this film as well. Are you not? Tell us just a little bit about the character that you are playing.
Alex Kendrick : So, I play a coach of a high school, a basketball coach. And when our largest factory in town closes down, it allows half the town to move for employment. And so when we lose so many families, I lose all my best players, and I struggle with that, because we had a really good team and I wanted a championship. So the school gives me the cross country program in addition, and only one girl comes out to run. She’s a 15-year-old girl and she has asthma.
Alex Kendrick : So that kind of symbolizes the feelings that my character has. He’s very frustrated, but he soon learns that he’s been putting his identity on the wrong thing, and that was his job performance, rather than what God says about him. It’s a very inspiring movie, very funny as well. It’s great for the whole family, and I think by the end, people will be on the edge of their seat. We tried to make it a very exciting and inspiring film.
Sam Rohrer: And Alex, we’re going to have to go, and we pray that people will be on the edge of their seat. August 23rd, overcomermovie.com, ladies and Gentlemen. Alex Kendrick, thank you for being with us today on the program. God bless you, and we pray the God will bless the film.
Sam Rohrer: Welcome back to Stand in the Gap, and we are now exactly midpoint in this program today, and we’re thankful that you are with us on this really momentous day across the country. I think we all know of the tragedy that’s occurred over the weekend, and there’s just so many things happening, ladies and gentlemen. You feel it. I feel it. And you know what? At these times, I am very, very glad that I know that God is in full control.
Sam Rohrer: And I think, as God’s people, when we face a society and a culture and a time that has very little hope, that we step forward with hope, hope that’s found in Jesus Christ. Hope that’s found in an identity, as we’re talking about, with our guests in the last segment, Alex Kendrick, and the new movie that’s coming out, new film called Overcomer. It’s about identity, and let us not struggle with our identity.
Sam Rohrer: If you know Jesus Christ, your personal savior, we have an identity as a son of God, a child of God, as an ambassador of Jesus Christ. A host of things really gives us purpose for living. And in today’s program, we’re not going down the road of everything that’s happening on the general media right now, but we’re focusing on how truth can actually be taken outside the walls of the church and people can become overcomers.
Sam Rohrer: We talked to Alex Kendrick, he and his brother, pastors of a church, of Sherwood Baptist in Georgia, began doing Christian films, and now, God has taken that way beyond the walls of their church. But I’d like to zero in here now in this next section and actually bring in a local pastor. He is a friend, personal friend, [inaudible 00:20:55] Gary and I. He’s a pastor of a church in mid-state, central Pennsylvania. He has been a part of Pennsylvania Pastors Network and APN, as well.
Sam Rohrer: And God has led him to, in a similar fashion to what he did, Alex Kendrick and his brother, to do some more things outside the wall of the church, to take what he’s been preaching in the pulpit to the people, and involve himself, and demonstrate a little bit outside the wall. And I think this will be an encouragement to you, and we’ll make application to how you and I all can do our part to take in truth and living it out. And with that, I want to welcome John Mallonee right now to our program here today. John, thanks for being with us today.
John Mallonee : Oh, thank you brother Sam, brother Gary. It’s great to be on the show today, and I am so delighted with the work of Stand in the Gap Today, and [Weekend 00:21:55], and American Pastors has done and the impact it’s made. And it’s amazing to see how God is still using his church all around the world. And I want you guys to keep up the good work, and I know it’s been an impact on my life.
Sam Rohrer: Well, John, I appreciate that very much, and people listening across the country here, they don’t really know John Mallonee, and we don’t have time to get into all of it, but I’ve been in your church with you, and you’re a millennial pastor. You have not been in the ministry as long as brother Gary has. We look and find that young pastors like yourself, that are vitally involved, as something that is very, very, very encouraging, and that’s just what you’ve mentioned.
Sam Rohrer: But can you just take just a minute or two here, briefly, before we get into what God has led you to do outside the walls of the church, and you mentioned about the American Pastors Network and so forth being helpful to you in your ministry. Can you just share just a little bit about how what is done here on Stand in the Gap Today and the Weekend program, TV program, and all of that, for instance, has helped you personally as a pastor, and then, perhaps, how it has helped, maybe, the congregation in your church to know better how to, perhaps, live as effective salt and light?
John Mallonee : Absolutely. Well, to look at the whole scope of it would take days, but to put it in a nutshell, both American Pastors Network and Pennsylvania Pastors Network, they do exactly what the names say. And I’m an eye witness to that. Allow pastors to network in order to help us have the tools that we need to maximize our calling, to take the light of the gospel into an ever darkening world.
John Mallonee : And I love to glean wisdom from pastors that have been in the ministry for decades, and soak up that knowledge on how to do things, how not to do things, according to the word of God. And it’s been such a valuable tool in my life and in our church. We are no strangers to the ministry of APN, and I regularly share the TV programs and the radio programs with the congregation, and we set aside time to do that.
John Mallonee : And the feedback I’ve gotten is phenomenal. We have several in our church that are regular listeners to the daily program, and I’m very thankful for that, because this is truth and this is what we need.
Gary D.: John, it’s a delight to have you with us on the program, and I’m so glad that Sam clearly pointed out that you’ve not been in the pastorate as long as I have. Both Sam and Dave love to talk about my age.
Sam Rohrer: Well, Gary, Gary, we do like to talk about that, but I want to say here, that John recognizes, and ladies and gentlemen, we have an emphasis that we would love to do more if people would, again, come along and help us both in prayer and elsewhere. But we call it bridging the gap.
Sam Rohrer: And it’s where we sense that pastors who have been in the pulpit longer have valuable things to impart to those who are younger in the pulpit. And I don’t know if it’s most or not, but there are some like John and others who sense that and really long to have the input from older pastors. But that’s what God has designed it to be, and so John, when you mentioned that, I wanted to pick up on that and say that, Gary is trying to make a little bit of a joke, I know, because he’s being older, but I just want to bring a seriousness back to it.
Sam Rohrer: We recognize the value of that, and John, I’m glad that you recognize the value of what Gary has to offer. It’s a tremendous thing, and I wish that was done more across the country. We’re trying to encourage that in every way we can.
Gary D.: I was just thinking of something, so, Sam, as you’re talking about pastors that I’m associated with here in our area, the Altoona, Pennsylvania area. Most of them are probably in the age bracket that John is. They are, give or take, a few years of 35 to 40 years of age. And it’s a great blessing to be able to share with younger pastors, because I’ll tell you this. I learn from them.
Gary D.: I learn from people like John and younger pastors. There’s a lot to learn. But going beyond that, as we were talking about getting our ministry outside our church walls, John, God has laid upon your heart a very unique way to get involved outside of your congregation. What has he led you to do?
John Mallonee : Well, yes, Gary. My desire is, and I believe this should be the desire of us, whether we’re in formal ministry or we just realize that each of us, as believers in Christ, are ministers, but my desire is not to divide my life into compartments with one for God over here, and one for self over there. My whole life is ministry, and I want to be the same guy in the pulpit as I am in the public square.
John Mallonee : And so, when I decided to run for school board, my main goal was not choosing curriculum or organizing activities, but actually, I saw it as ministry, an extension of the ministry of the church, which I’ve been called to pastor. And it’s simply this, to preach the word and reach the world. And you can’t just do that by being in the pulpit. We have to go to where the world is and reach them there.
John Mallonee : And if we sit around and wait for everyone to come through the doors of whatever church the Lord has called us to be a part of, we’re going to be very disappointed. But if we go and we get them and try to reach them for Christ, then I believe we’re going to be more on track with the great commission.
Sam Rohrer: John, that is excellent. And boy, I tell you, I wish we could capsulize that and put it in a form of a vitamin and spread it across the country. But ladies and gentlemen, hoped you caught what John just said. God called him to run for school board. He’s now involved in his local school board, touching a lot of lives and people being able to see what it means for a Christian to be in a position of making policy and decisions.
Sam Rohrer: But John, God has also called you to do more than that. You’re working mostly with adults in that capacity on your school board, but God has called you to do some things outside the walls of your church that would involve the lives of young children, many of whom may never have even heard the good news. What about that?
John Mallonee : Absolutely. Well, Sam, I have a real burden for this up and coming generation, and I feel that we’re losing a generation if we don’t give them the truth of the Gospel, the unchanging truth. And so we have to tell them that. If we don’t tell them, we can’t expect them to know.
John Mallonee : And so, as one of the school board directors, I get to work very closely with the administration. This has been great. They’re great people. They’re very interested in what I do as a pastor, and I love that. But tragically, how this all came about with the next phase here, is, during the last school year, our district experienced a student suicide, and it really shocked everyone. It shook up the entire district.
John Mallonee : And so, immediately, I was called in very early in the morning to come in for a couple of days and then meet with the students and to counsel with them. But I knew that there was more that we needed to do, not just meet them in a crisis, but be there for them before that, and at all times, and let them know how much we care about them, how much the Lord loves them and cares about them.
John Mallonee : And so the superintendent and I have had an ongoing conversation of how we can let these kids know that they’re loved, and they’re not just a number, they’re not just there to be taught, but we care about them. And so this is where it gets really exciting. One evening, I received a phone call from the district superintendent, and he lives in a different district. But I could tell by his voice that he was really happy about something.
John Mallonee : And so he told me, and this was in the evening when he should’ve been off duty with his family, and he was, he told me he’d just picked up one of his sons from a good news club in the school district where he attends. He began to tell me what he was learning about Jesus, and about how Jesus is is the Lord, and Satan is evil, and the difference between that, and what they were teaching him in this good news club.
John Mallonee : And then he asked me this question that really sparked it all, and I wanted to jump out of my chair where I was. He said, “Do you think we can start a good news club?” It was hard for me to contain my joy. It was, really, I knew it was an opportunity from the Lord.
Sam Rohrer: And John, we’re going into a break, and I want to wait and have you come back in the next segment so that you can share with our listeners what you said to him. Because that was an unexpected question, and I don’t know what he expected when you answered, but we’re going to find out what that was and then, now, what’s happening there in your district, and what you are intending to do here for this fall.
Sam Rohrer: Well, we’re going to go now into our final segment. We have pastor John Mallonee on with us. He is the senior pastor of Blessed Hope Bible Church, and that’s in Liverpool, Pennsylvania, which is in the central part of the state. And we’re talking with him about how God has led him to go beyond the walls of his church and to take truth to be an overcomer, as we’re putting it, even outside the walls of the church.
Sam Rohrer: And we’re tying this together with that thought, overcoming by taking truth beyond the church walls. We started with Alex Kendrick, who is a pastor, former pastor, really, from Sherwood Baptist Church down in Georgia. He’s now with two of his brothers producing Christian films, the latest one, Overcomer, coming out on August the 23rd, and you can find out more about that, overcomermovie.com.
Sam Rohrer: But John, let me go back to you right now, because God led you to run for school board, which is not something that most people do, and certainly as a pastor. But you did. You had circumstance that happened in the school district where, most unfortunately, you were saying, there was a suicide, and that brought you into contact with helping to counsel some of the children and help to go through that.
Sam Rohrer: And then, there was a discussion that you had with someone from the school district that was asking you a question. Rephrase that question that you were asked, please, and your response.
John Mallonee : Sure. So I got this call, and I wasn’t anticipating the question I would get when this superintendent said, “Do you think we can start a good news club in our school district?” Well, it was … Like I said earlier, it was hard to keep me in my seat, because I wanted to jump through the roof. I was so excited about this, because I knew it was an opportunity the Lord had placed right before us.
John Mallonee : I knew that it was an open door we needed to go through. And it’s one of those moments, Sam and Gary, when you don’t need to pray about it. You just know it’s of the Lord. We’d been praying all along that we can reach these kids, and then he opens the door. The prayer is about how we facilitate that, not if we’re going to do it.
John Mallonee : You don’t ever need to pray about if you’re going to obey God. You just obey him and pray for wisdom along the way. And so we knew we just needed to get busy making it happen. I knew it was God’s will, and so I reached out to the folks at Child Evangelism Fellowship. They oversee all the good news clubs in school, in the schools, and we began to put together all the details, and praise the Lord, we start this October.
Sam Rohrer: That is a fantastic thing, John, and you are leading it. But it’s kind of interesting, I’m not mistaken. Really, the reason that the superintendent reached out to you was in fact because you had made a decision to reach out and get involved with the school board, [inaudible 00:32:52] correct? And then, because of the suicide, you are in a position to help counsel. Is that the way that the details actually work?
John Mallonee : Yes. I’ve become very close with the administration, with the principals, which has been a great relationship, and they are thankful that there’s someone in the community that is not shy about the fact that I depend on the Lord for my decisions. And I love these kids, because I love the Lord, and I want to see them come to know him as their savior.
John Mallonee : And so that’s exciting to be able to really rub shoulders with them, and try to make an impact in their lives, too, because they all have different backgrounds and different situations. And so, like I said at the beginning, I don’t divide my life into compartments. I’m not Pastor John over here and school board member over here. I am a believer in Christ no matter where I go.
Sam Rohrer: That’s a great lesson, and I want you to come back in just a moment and share some advice you would have for people who are listening, who would say, “Well, I’m not a pastor. What can I do?” I know you have some advice for them. But Gary, let me go to you. You’ve been the pastor for quite a number of years in Altoona, but you’ve been in other places as well.
Sam Rohrer: Could you just take a minute or two and share an example of a time or two, or whatever, where God has kind of presented to you an opportunity, maybe similar to John’s or otherwise, and where you’ve stepped through, and God has now given an opportunity for truth to take place and for you to stand for truth outside the walls of your church?
Gary D.: The thing to take into consideration as I’ve been listening to John is a real biblical principle, and that is this. What we’re talking about is not the exception. It’s the norm, or should be. That is, where pastors take their ministry outside the four walls of their church. Jesus said in Luke chapter 14 and verse 23, “Go out. Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in.”
Gary D.: And we are to get outside of our four walls. And I think both, Sam, you and John, would agree with this, and that is that the opportunities come to us. If we have a desire to serve the Lord, the opportunities will come to us to go out into the highways and hedges and stand up for the truth of the word of God. And down through my years of ministry, I have seen many of those opportunities who have come to me.
Gary D.: You know this, Sam, and I’ll just give this as one illustration. A few years ago, a local radio station in the town of which I live came to me and asked if I would do a one hour talk show every day of the week, five days a week. And in doing that talk show, I brought in biblical principles that opened up a wealth of opportunities to people throughout this central Pennsylvania area.
Gary D.: I only quit that ministry, and it was a ministry, because of time, after about two and a half years of being on the radio daily. The opportunities are there as long as we are willing to watch for them, and God will send them our way, and we can go out into the highways and hedges to compel them to come in. I could get a long, long list of how God has opened doors for us over the past 45 years of ministry. They’re there. Keep your eyes open for them, Pastor, and watch what God will bring your way.
Sam Rohrer: And Gary, take 30 seconds here, so as we’re winding down, because I want to go back to John. What advice would you give, Gary, to those who are listening who are not pastors? There are people that are on the work job, some may be retired and at home. What can they do? Is there anything that they can do to stand for truth outside the walls of their own home or their own church, depending?
Gary D.: Yeah. Just live Jesus Christ before them. The Bible tells us that we are salt and light in this world of darkness. And again, it is the norm, not the exception, for those of us who are Christians to live Christ before the people around us. Philippians 1:27 says that we are to live in such a way to make the gospel of Jesus Christ becoming.
Gary D.: As we do that consistently, opportunities will come our way that will give us the privilege of taking Jesus Christ to the world around us.
Sam Rohrer: John, let me go back to you now. You heard what Gary said, and I said I wanted to come back to you. What are you saying to, perhaps, the people in your church, or those who are listening, again, who are not pastors. Maybe they are not in a position of great authority. Maybe they could be. Whatever. But what are you telling them about what they can do and should do to be able to take truth and to live truth outside the walls of their own house, their own church?
John Mallonee : Well, first of all, people need to know that they don’t need to be an ordained minister to do the work of the ministry. We are all called by Christ to do that. There’s people that can reach folks in an area that I can’t. I don’t have that platform.
John Mallonee : There’s people that I can reach that other people aren’t able to. But we’re taking the same message of truth to them, the gospel of Christ, and that’s the truth that we’re communicating. And if everybody was called to preach, then it would be boring in the world, because we need ministers in hospitals, in schools, and in factories everywhere.
John Mallonee : We need to be, as Gary said, living Christ before others. And so, we all have the opportunities. It’s just a matter of identifying them and seizing them. Not everybody would be able to start a good news club, but everybody has a neighbor, everybody has lost family members.
Sam Rohrer: They do. And we’re running out of time, John, we’re going to have to go. Thank you for being on today and for allowing the Lord to use you and being an encouragement to so many who are listening today.
Sam Rohrer: And ladies and gentlemen, just be faithful where you are. Open your mouth when the time comes. Pray, be active. Read your Bible. Stand for the truth when you have opportunity, and as John said, be a Christian 24 hours a day. Probably the very best things.