Charles Stanley has often been called “America’s Pastor,” and I’m grateful that I get to call him my pastor. On his 82nd birthday, I share some reasons why
Earlier this year I attended the International Christian Retail Show in Atlanta, an annual gathering of authors, speakers, and publishers from around the world. When I heard that my pastor, Dr. Charles Stanley, was doing a book signing in the conference exhibit hall, I sheepishly showed up. “I promise I’m not stalking you,” I told him with a giggle. “I just came by to cheer you on.”
If ever I start to get overly skeptical about humanity, I just need to show up to a Dr. Stanley book signing and watch as long lines of people tell him their stories of how his messages have impacted their lives and helped transform their relationships with the Lord. As I stood back and observed loyal listeners and readers light up when it was their turn to shake his hand, I teared up and thanked God that I had been given the immense privilege of sitting under his preaching and teaching for my entire life. “Thanks for letting me be part of the fan club,” I whispered to Phillip Bowen, the CEO of In Touch Ministries, Stanley’s broadcast organization. “You’re part of the family,” Bowen responded.
In that moment I was reminded of how First Baptist Atlanta has been more than just my church for the past 30 years. It is indeed my family. And Dr. Stanley has been more than just the pastor. He has been my pastor. Today, as he turns 82 years old, Dr. Stanley remains like a grandfather in the faith to me and countless others who have been personally shaped by his ministry over the years.
When I reflect on Dr. Stanley’s impact on my immediate family and my own walk with Christ, I’m filled with emotion. Perhaps it’s because I think about the way he reached out to my parents 35 years ago, when my father – a new immigrant from India – started his first job at Georgia Tech in downtown Atlanta and ‘just happened’ to wander into FBA because it was across the street from his office. Dr. Stanley personally ministered to my father and discipled this young professor who was a recent convert from Hinduism to Christianity. A year later, in 1980, my mother would respond to Dr. Stanley’s invitation after a fiery Wednesday night sermon and come to saving faith in Christ. As someone whose parents came to Atlanta from a foreign land not knowing anyone in this city – and, in my mother’s case, not having a relationship with Jesus – I will be forever grateful for the ways Dr. Stanley and our entire church family prayed for, counseled, and loved on my family in those early years.
Another reason I’m overwhelmed is because I think about how Dr. Stanley’s teaching has helped me grow in my knowledge and understanding of the Bible, and the ways God has used his messages – especially his Life Principles – to speak to me and guide my actions. Among Dr. Stanley’s words of wisdom that echo in my mind when facing formidable circumstances or significant decisions are his exhortation to “Obey God, and leave all the consequences to Him,” his reminder that “Genuine success is becoming the person God has called you to be and achieving those goals He has helped you set,” and his reassurance that “When God calls you to do something, He will always equip you for it.” These principles, rooted in scripture, have been like nuggets of gold that I have clung to tightly, especially during times of trial and transition in my life.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: The Christian Post