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FIRST-PERSON: ‘Thank God for Mel Gibson’

EULESS, Texas (BP)–In each generation, God breaks through the traditions of men as he did in the first century. The late 20th century witnessed phenomena such as the Jesus Movement of the 1970s and organizations like Campus Crusade for Christ led by visionaries such as Bill Bright.

History is filled with examples of those whom we admire from a distance, but in their era, their methods were either rejected or held in suspicion by the established elite of religion. Billy Graham began under large tents. Dwight L. Moody, with an eighth-grade education, shook both England and North America with the Gospel. Billy Sunday was a converted baseball player who had been known as a “boozer.” His methods of Gospel proclamation were quite unusual. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, preached in open fields because churches rejected him.

But the issue is not method. It is message. Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ being proclaimed? These whom we admire from a distance certainly proclaimed the Gospel.

The method is non-traditional and outside the four walls of the institutional church. Since the majority of Baptist churches are no longer using evangelists, Mel Gibson might just be their answer to harvest.

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Mel Gibson has had a storied career in the movie industry. He has fought many personal battles with his own “demons.” People magazine wrote that he is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is consistent with the character of God to use broken people who admit their struggles and acknowledge their dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Gibson appears to be such a person.

I am not a movie buff. But I read where pastors were encouraging people to go, and some laymen were even buying huge blocks of tickets to invite people to see the film. I thought, “Wow, I’m going to see this movie.” I was invited to see the preview but was unable to go due to illness in the family. But then, I took a break and went by myself. The last 30 minutes of the movie, I wept. I cried. It felt like I was getting saved again!

Johnny Hunt, pastor First Baptist Church Woodstock in metro Atlanta is a man of walking passion and non-tradition. He has had 20,000 attend the movie. It is expected 10,000 more will attend as a result of FBC Woodstock purchasing 84 showings. A thousand of their members are going door to door every Saturday to share the Gospel. It reminds me of the 1950s.

I vividly remember my call of God to preach the Gospel. Our pastor had me memorize the Gospels. I had to present them at the ordination service. I had to share the Gospel with 30 people in 30 days before I could be ordained. Those 30 people turned into hundreds of people. We were commanded to go outside the walls of the church building to where the sinners were. I remember our pastor saying, “Fish will not swim upon your hook.” However, today, we are no longer fishers of men, but keepers of an aquarium. Seventy percent of all of our churches are dead, dying, declining, out of business for the souls of lost men.

Anyone who has a problem with the last 30 minutes of this movie is out of touch with the Holy Spirit. They must have a hardened heart. People who are steeped in religion are often the most difficult for the Holy Spirit to penetrate, more difficult than drunkards, gamblers, prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, murderers and other more notorious sinners. Why? It is usually religious people who are depending on their good deeds and self-righteousness to make them right with God. The blood of Jesus turns them off. They are the reruns of the first-century Pharisees and Sadducees. It would be great for those theologians who are so critical of the movie, who are so steeped in orthodoxy, to take their unsaved acquaintances to see this movie. Their lost acquaintances and friends, like many others, would be saved. When I go out to fish with a man, if he catches more fish than I do, I don’t criticize his bait, I just help him string his fish.

God used a rooster; he used a fish; and he used a donkey. God can use a crooked stick and praise God that’s what he has done with Mel Gibson and “The Passion of The Christ.”

I recommend it 100 percent.

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I only wish all of our seminaries, Bible schools and religious colleges would encourage students to see the movie with a lost friend. It would be a spiritual revolution. Spiritual awakenings are coming to many colleges and high schools. Now is the time to act and share the Gospel one-on-one. We pray that Mel Gibson will take his movie to every human being on planet Earth.

Thank God for Mel Gibson and thank God for bringing back the blood of Jesus through Mel Gibson. Thank you, Mel Gibson, for using your talent and God-given ability to help thousands come to know Jesus. Thank you for touching my heart and letting us relive our salvation experience. Thank God for bringing back the PASSION!
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Freddie Gage, of Euless, Texas, has been a Southern Baptist evangelist for more than 50 years. He also has four sons in the ministry.

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