“Are we to go on just preparing the way for the Lord’s work? Or are we going forth to reap the harvest? To do this we need to venture more on God. He challenges us to do so! We must be willing to be ridiculed by men; we must be ready to be considered crazy men. The Lord loves nothing more or better than a venture of faith; and when the Lord challenges us are we going to slacken our hands or go forward to win and conquer?… Most of us are ready to fall in when success begins to come, but the Lord calls for leaders, pioneers in this work, venturing on God.” Excerpt from the book Praying Hyde edited Captain E.G. Carre.
We are here to help you hear the hoof beats of the American Circuit Rider. We strive to venture on God. We are missionaries called to the American mission field. If we are welcomed, we plan to make revivalists out of each one of you. If we are opposed, we will do the same. If we are ignored we will do the same. The comment of Francis Asbury after delivering a message on 2 Corinthians 5:11, “knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men,” might well express the attitude of all the circuit riders. He wrote, “If the people say it was like thunder and lightning, I shall not be surprised. I spoke in power from God, and there was a general and deep feeling in the congregation; thine, O Lord, be all the glory!!”
Who are they?
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Circuit Riders are those Kingdom Ambassadors that mobilize regions for revival, evangelism, and firey devotion to Jesus. Many American Circuit Riders in the early days were Methodists who carried the overall heartbeat of Methodism to places unreached. John Wesley said, “What may we measurably believe to be God’s design in raising up the preachers called Methodists?” Wesley answered, “Not to form any new sect; but to reform the nation, particularly the church; and to spread Scriptural holiness over the land.” I believe God’s design for today’s circuit rider is not form any new sect; but to reform the nation, particularly the church to the Book of Acts, and rid the land of the false grace message by releasing the fear of the Lord.
Wesley preached in open fields, street corners, factory gates, he met with congregations larger than any church could hold. In 1776, Wesley wrote to young preachers, “Preach abroad… it is the cooping yourselves up in rooms that has damped the work of God, which never was and never will be carried out to any purpose without going out in the highways and hedges and compelling poor sinners to come in.”
Why is this needed today?
We need the witness of the gospel NOT just in every nation but in every GENERATION in every nation. America is being re-evangelized. I started out, DAY ONE of my conversion to Christ saying “YES” to the Gospel of the Kingdom praying and preaching… praying and preaching… praying and preaching. I didn’t have a title, a ministry platform, no microphone, no 501c3, no invitations. I had nothing but this, “I’m going to go tell people about Jesus, do you want to come?”
I started in 1998 on street corners (specifically, High St. in Columbus OH) every Friday night. I preached in Malls and bars. I preached once a month in homeless shelters. Sometimes twice a month if they’d let me in. I preached in prisons (12 different prisons all over the state of Ohio and in the Franklin Co. Jail). We averaged over 80 chapel services a year in prisons. If you take that number plus the streets on Friday nights and the homeless shelters that’s over a 100 messages a year before sinners. The first year of my new birth in Christ I preached over 100 messages and not one was inside of a church. I do not say this so that people think I’m something. I say this because it was a blast and I’m jealous for you to experience the wonder of venturing on God. Besides, these numbers are nothing compared to riders of the 18th century. In 1739, they reported that John Wesley preached over 500 messages in 9 months. That’s an average of 2 messages a day. Only 8 of those 500 messages were in a church building.
Saints, I didn’t do the prisons, street corners, and homeless shelters in hopes that one day I would get to do the real ministry in a pulpit with a microphone. I didn’t do the secret place in order to lift up my voice on high in public or to advance in fame. I loved being with Jesus. I was having a blast. I was venturing on God. I’m only doing what I’m doing today because He told me to, that’s the only reason. I charge you to have a blast venturing on God.
John Wesley told his lay preachers, “You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go always, not only to those that want you, but to those that want you most. Observe: It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance, and with all your power to build them up in that holiness without which they cannot see the Lord.” This is the heartbeat of the American Circuit Rider.
Billy Graham, speaking at the World Congress on Evangelism in 1966 said, “The Christian minister is to be a holy man.” To illustrate his point he told the story of H.C. Morrison, founder of Asbury Theological Seminary. He described a day many years ago when Morrison as a farm worker was cultivating in a field. Looking down the road, he saw an old Methodist circuit rider coming by on his horse. The young plowman had seen the preacher before, and he knew him to be a holy man. As he watched the saint go by, he felt the power of his godly presence way out there in the field. Such a sense of conviction for sin came over Morrison, that fearful for his soul, he dropped on his knees, and there between the corn rows, alone, he mad a resolve to give his life to God.
You are destined to venture on God. Allow the Father to lift you up on His shoulders in this hour and take you wherever He wants. It’s going to be a blast. Of course you’ll have challenges, spiritual attacks, and things to overcome. These things you’ll have whether you sit at home or choose to ride. I charge you to ride in the grace of God on the Father’s shoulders.