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Dear Church,

Christian history shows individuals filled with the Holy Spirit who exhorted and inspired the people they encountered during the times that they lived.  While all good works done in the name of Jesus have merit (even a cup of cold water given to a Christian who is thirsty), some lasting works of print and audio have been produced that still inspire decades or even centuries later. Here are biographies for two individuals who have inspired me over the past year, Henry Drummond and Vance Havner. No doubt there are other individuals out there that I have yet to discover.

Henry Drummond (1851–1897).  Henry Drummond was born and raised in Stirling, Scotland. Drummond was educated at Edinburgh University studying physical and mathematical science.  In addition to his scientific aptitude, he was also drawn into the evangelical revival of his time led by D.L. Moody and I.D. Sankey and subsequently entered the Free Church of Scotland. He took a position as a lecturer at the Free Church College that allowed him to pursue both his interests in the sciences and evangelistic outreach. In 1880 Drummond published his essay “The Greatest Thing in the World” that is still in print and served as the inspiration for the sermon given this past Sunday. D.L. Moody wrote, “Henry Drummond was one of the most lovable men I have ever known…It could be said of him truthfully, as it was said of the early apostles, ‘that men took knowledge of him, that he had been with Jesus’ …Never have I known a man who, in my opinion, lived nearer the Master, or sought to do His will more fully.” All this despite Drummond suffering through excruciating pain during the final two years of his life from the bone cancer that claimed him at the age of 45.

Vance Havner (1901–1986). Vance Havner grew up in the hills of North Carolina, became a Christian at age ten, was licensed to preach at twelve, and by the age of 14 was regularly preaching in front of audiences.  He attended a few Bible colleges in the south as a young adult but ended up leaving before graduating due to restlessness and a sole desire to preach. He started preaching as a full-time pastor but by his own admission he made many mistakes, including preaching popular sermons that were liked by unbelievers but convicted nobody of their need for a Savior.  Convinced that he wasn’t preaching the gospel, he settled down for the next three years as a pastor at a small country church, returned to the old message, studied the Bible, tramped country roads, and laid a good foundation for the years to come. During this time, he wrote his first book and other articles for Christian publications that gained him national recognition. Over the years, he became a sought-after speaker for conferences as an old-time revivalist who was known for his witty one-liners and country colloquialisms, such as “I did not understand all about the plan of salvation. I do not understand all about electricity, but I don’t intend to sit in the dark until I do.” Overall, his ministry spanned over 70 years and he was the author of over 20 books. YouTube has an audio collection of over 100 of his sermons that are well worth listening to. Havner’s “The Forgotten Beatitude” served as the inspiration for the sermon that I gave this past August.

Be encouraged and an inspiration to others,
Rick Strong

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