I have been asked, “Why do you go out and do Harvest Crusades? Why do you travel to different areas of the country, taking time away from your church and your family to do this? What’s your motive?”
Why do I go out and do this?
Is it the thrill of speaking in front of large crowds? No, I can’t say that’s it because, in many cases, the crowds may be smaller than our combined attendance at Harvest Christian Fellowship on a given Sunday.
Is it the thrill of travel? Absolutely not. The novelty of travel wore off a long time ago.
Is it because it’s a lot of fun? Well, we do have a lot of fun. But it isn’t all fun. In reality, it’s a lot of work.
Jesus told the story of a shepherd who had 100 sheep and one went astray. What did the shepherd do? Did he say, “Win a few, lose a few. Too bad”? No, he left the 99 and went after that one sheep. You see, God doesn’t just value multitudes; He values individuals. He values the human soul.
Several years ago, my neighbor told me about a man named Roy who lived in our neighborhood. Roy had a very serious heart ailment, and there was nothing more that could be done for him. So he had been discharged from the hospital and was basically sent home to die.
My neighbor said to me, “Roy is not a Christian, but he has been to one of your crusades. Maybe you should try and talk to him.”
One morning, my wife and I were out walking when my neighbor pointed out Roy to us. So we walked over to him and introduced ourselves. As we talked, it became clear that Roy was not a believer. He had a lot of questions.
Every day, we ran into him and would talk a little bit more. Then I gave Roy a copy of my book, Life. Any Questions?, which presents the gospel message. I encouraged him to take the book home and read it and then asked if we could talk again.
Roy came back the next day and said, “I read your whole book.” He had more questions. We talked a little bit more, but Roy still did not seem ready to make a commitment to Christ.
One morning, as we were having family devotions, I looked out the window. There was Roy, standing in front of our house. He was out on a walk and had stopped to rest, right in front of our house.
Here we were, reading the Bible, and Roy was standing there. I sensed it was time. So I walked outside and said, “Roy, let’s talk a little more.” As we talked, I said, “Roy, I think you need to settle this right now. You need to get right with God. Why don’t you pray right now and give your life to Christ?”
He said, “I’m ready to do that.”
“Great,” I said. So we prayed, and Roy asked the Lord to come into his life.
The next morning, we saw Roy. He had a big smile on his face. He said he had just been singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Every time we saw Roy, it seemed like he had grown a little more.
His son-in-law told me later that Roy went to his whole family and announced, “You are looking at a brand-new Christian right now!”
Some time later, Roy’s son-in-law knocked on our door. He said, “Roy died last night. I wanted to tell you.”
Certainly there was sadness. But there also was the joy of knowing that Roy was in his new body in heaven. I thought to myself, “What if I had been too busy?” We can make up so many excuses. But God had provided me with a wonderful opportunity to talk with Roy.
So why take the time to share the gospel and hold events like the Harvest Crusades? The answer is obvious: It’s the value of a soul.
God values the Roys of the world. He values you. And He values me. Yet in our culture today, we often place the greatest value on that which, for the most part, has no value. Meanwhile, we completely ignore that which has the greatest value.
Is anything worth more than a soul? The answer, obviously, is no. God values the human soul. And so should we.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!