The Circuit Rider vs The Televangelist

The Circuit Rider vs The Televangelist
by Michael Edds

In my continued research on the “old wells of revival” I have discovered
some incredibly contrasting bits of information. One of the top
televangelists in the nation was recently invited to preach in Baltimore,
Maryland. His terms for coming were:

#1. That he must be picked up by a limousine at the airport,
#2. That he must have $1,000 spending money,
#3. That he must be guaranteed at least $10,000 in offerings.

This same televangelist/ pastor lives in a multi million-dollar mansion,
eats in the finest restaurants and wears the most expensive tailor-made
suits. His writings and speaking engagements have garnered millions of
dollars. He brags that he is a role model of the prosperity message of
our day. He pastors a mega church, appears on national and international
television, has authored many books and draws tens of thousands to hear
him. To his credit, he is a powerful, commanding speaker. However,
please contrast this to the following life and ministry of the great
circuit rider, Francis Asbury in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

While still in his 20’s, Francis Asbury left his home and family forever
in England to come to a wilderness called America. He came to be a
traveling preacher/evangelist in a nation with little infrastructure such
as roads, decent housing, few hotels and restaurants, poor sanitation and
dangerous drinking water, few medical professionals and limited law
enforcement. The nation had recently plunged into a violent war of
independence against Asbury’s native land of England. The American
frontier was also ablaze with war between the colonist and Native
Americans tribes.

Asbury was not greeted upon his arrival by a limo. He had to purchase a
horse on which he traveled 6,000 a year for over 40 years. His financial
reward was $60 a year, much of which he gave away or sent back to England
to help his parents. He wore hand-me-downs not tailor made suits. He had
no retirement, no insurance, no dental plan, and no 401 k. He set no fee
for his ministry.

What he did receive, he often gave away. He traveled on “roads” on which
his horse sank many times knee-deep in mud. If a road did not exist, he
would lead his horse over the steep, rocky incline s of the Appalachians
to reach a pioneer community. Many times, his feet and legs were bloodied
and bruised by the horrific journey. When he came to a river where there
was no bridge or ferry, he would swim his horse across. Numerous times,
he was nearly drowned by an angry, swollen stream. His “hotel” on many
occasions was on a dirt floor in an overcrowded, rat-infested frontier
cabin. Often times he slept in the woods, on a mountain ledge or in damp
cave. Many days he would travel over 60 miles with nothing to eat. The
paths and roads he traveled were full of dangers from murderers, thieves,
wolves, bears, poisonous snakes and roaming bands of Native Americans with
whom the frontiersmen were at war. If he met someone who needed a cloak,
food or money, he would take what he had and give it to the person in
need. Asbury sought out the forgotten, hidden places of early America. He traveled from New England, to the Midwest, and to the Deep South
spreading the Gospel of Christ. When he would meet a person who was ill,
he would minister to their physical needs with the last medication he had.
He demanded nothing of others in order to come into a community. The
demands he made were on himself. Frequently, his body would be racked
with pain, illness, fever, hunger and weakness. His physical being would
cry out for rest and nourishment. However, his spirit ruled his body. When truly unable to travel, he would mount his horse and ride for 8 hours
or more through blinding snowstorms, torrential rain or in oppressive
heat.

He too had been invited to Baltimore. In 1816 he was traveling by buggy
through Virginia headed to the annual conference in Baltimore. However,
he was dying. His last sermon was preached in Richmond. He had to be
carried into the meeting room. He commented, “I am too weak t o walk but
not to preach.” They sat him on a small table and he ministered the Word
for the last time. He made it as far as Spotsylvania twenty miles north of
Richmond. He body was rapidly failing. He stopped at a friend’s house on
Saturday. Shortly before he left this world he was asked, “Do you feel
Jesus precious?” Summoning his last remaining strength, the great circuit
rider raised both hands in victory. Minutes later he laid his head on a
friend’s hand and gently slipped away to be with the Lord. He owned no
mansion, no land, and no bank account. His net worth was what he wore on
his body. He was buried in a borrowed grave plot.
When Asbury came to America, there were few Methodist believers and fewer
preachers. At the end of his ministry, there were over 240,000 Methodist
believers and almost 8,000 ministers. He affected lives of thousands upon
thousands. He changed the very course of American history. Among his
converts were poor farmers, merchants, Governors of several states,
frontiersmen, slaves, Native Americans, State Supreme Court Justices,
attorneys, physicians, housewives, children, youth and people from all
walks of life. He gave all he had. He sought nothing for himself. His
passion was to bring salvation and the Light of the Gospel to those in
darkness of sin. He loved a nation and made it his own even though he was
not her native son.
Quite a CONTRAST between the CIRCUIT RIDER and the TELEVANGELIST!
One was selfless, the other selfish. One was people-centered, the other
ego-centered. One was a Kingdom builder, the other an empire builder. One drew souls into the Kingdom of God; the other drew the masses into an
arena. One demanded of him, the other demanded of others. One gave
freely, the other commanded a price. One was a servant, the other a
celebrity.

Hebrews 11:32-38 speaks about the real heroes of the faith: They
were…”tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a
better resurrection. Still others had trial of mocking and beatings, and
of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were
sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about
in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented… they
wandered in deserts, and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth…. of
whom the world was not worthy.”

How long are we going to tolerate the “superstar syndrome” in the church? How long are we going to feed the ego and pocketbooks of these self-seeking
charlatans, regardless of how articulate they are? How long will we
continue to pack their arenas and buy their CDs, DVDs and books? How long
will we pick them up in limos, and line their wallets with thousands and
thousands of dollars to spend on self? How long will we tolerate
apostasy?

My God, how far we have fallen! God is calling on us as His people to
repent and turn from our wicked ways. He is calling us to seek HIS face.
I am praying that God will overthrow this current, perverted religious
system and will fulfill Jeremiah 3:15 and give us shepherds after His own
heart…

[email protected]
www.greatawakening.blogspot.com

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