Archive for the 'Heroes' Category

Influence = Bobby Clinton

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009


I met Bobby and Marilyn Clinton in 1979.

I was taking the first course that Fuller Seminary had ever offered on Church Planting, taught by Peter Wagner, and Bobby was the teaching assistant. Having served as a missionary in Latin America, he was now at Fuller and beginning his teaching career. We later connected in a course on Homogeneous Units and Church Growth where he also helped in the instruction.

When Bobby was added to the faculty in the early 80s, I was privileged to be part of a pilot group that Bobby pulled together to begin testing some of his “leadership emergence” concepts and resources and the next summer, enrolled in his “Implementing Change” course, the content of which I still use and refer to today. These were the first of many courses, both formal and non-formal, where I worked to get as much of Clinton as I could. I felt I had struck gold!

In 1985, Bobby assumed a seat on the CRM Board of Directors and over the next two decades, as a member of the board and with several stints as chair, he made an invaluable contribution to CRM as an apostolic movement. His influence was enormous. Over the years we have drawn deeply from his work, applying it personally as well as to our calling to empower leaders for the church around the world.

And throughout it all, Bobby and Marilyn have remained dear friends and mentors, one of those life-long relationships for which Patty and I are immensely grateful.

Bobby’s capacity for cranking out material is renowned. He is amazingly prolific in what he writes and creates. His reputation for being a leadership “guru” in the contemporary religious context is well deserved when one gets into his stuff and experiences the sagacity of his insights.

The best introduction to Clinton for many years has been The Making of a Leader (Navpress). While most of us had to learn a whole new vocabulary to wade through the book, Bobby thinks it’s actually too watered down and popularize to a fault. That perspective speaks volumes as to the depth and voluminous nature of his work.

Thanks Bobby! Your contribution to our personal lives, our ministry, and our contribution to God’s kingdom purposes around the world has been immeasurable. It is an honor to be considered a friend and a small part of your legacy.


Influence = Caroline Montgomery

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

caroline-montgomeryI met her in 1975.  Patty, my wife, was the one who actually had the relationship and I tagged along.

Caroline was in her 70s and was a widow.  She was the epitome of a gracious, Southern lady.   Under the genteel surface was a life that had been difficult with personal and family challenges and the accompanying pain.

But from it all and through it all, God had taken this women and drawn her deep into a life of prayer.  She knew Jesus in a depth that few attain.  Praying with her was like being ushered into the presence of the holy.

She prayed for us.  She prayed for CRM in our formative years.  In the picture above, David, our oldest, sits on her lap, a product in no small way from her prayers.  We had difficulty having kids and I believe Caroline was an integral part of that process through her intercession as much as doctors and infertility meds.

She was ushered into glory and the presence of the Jesus she loved in 1988.  But like Elijah, her mantle fell not to just one Elisha, but to many who stepped into the gap to pray.   However, heaven only knows what role she played behind the scenes in so many lives, so much ministry, and in so much supernatural change.

Influence – Steve Addison

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

One of the most effective and critical components of a strategy whereby the Christian movement can have a transformational effect on the world is through the multiplication of local churches, ie., groups of people wholehearted committed to following Jesus and together living out the presence of his kingdom in a given locale.

steve-addisonI know of no one today who is a greater, more persistent champion for such church multiplication than Steve Addison.

I’ve known Steve and Michelle for over 20 years.  Throughout that time, through thick and thin, the planting of churches and developing leaders who can do such work has been the consuming passion of Steve’s life.

He’s doggedly overcome considerable obstacles to stay this course.  What has resulted is that Steve has evolved into one of the leading authorities anywhere on the planet – well at least in Australia, which means the whole world to an Aussie – on movements, particularly church planting movements, and how they have repeatedly been God’s vehicle for winning back his lost creation.

It’s all finally getting into print in Steve’s new book:  Movements that Can Change the World published by Missional Press.  There is also a plethora of great resources on Steve’s blog:

Influence = Derek and ChrisTiana Rice

Sunday, May 31st, 2009


“I am not ashamed to confess publicly that next to theology there is no art which is the equal of music, for she alone, after theology, can do what otherwise only theology can accomplish, namely, quiet and cheer up the soul of man, which is clear evidence that the devil, the originator of depressing worries and troubled thoughts, flees from the voice of music just as he flees from the words of theology.  For this very reason the prophets cultivated no art so much as music …

-  Martin Luther, 1530

To lead worship, as expressed in music, obviously requires some natural abilities and acquired skills.  But those alone, do not make good worship leaders.

All of us have been subjected to people who lead “worship” who are more intent on performance and listening to the sound of their own words and voices rather than knowing how to usher participants into the presence of God.

Derek and ChrisTiana Rice are two of my favorites when it comes to the use of music in worship.  And it is not because of their talent – which is considerable – but because of the source of their leadership.  Worship, and leading others in this pursuit, emanates out of their own intimacy with Jesus.  It flows from the depth of their souls and is grounded in their awe of the holy.

I’d like to clone them.  And this actually what will happen in the years ahead as they mentor, coach and develop others with their same sensitivities and passion.

Derek and ChrisTiana serve with NieuCommunities in San Diego, CA.

Influence = Nadim

Friday, May 29th, 2009

It’s a region of the world where everything seems to collide.

Shiite and Sunni Muslims, Druze, Syrians, Palestinians, Iranians, Maronite Catholics, Orthodox, and Evangelical Protestants, all mixed together with the ever-present incendiary threat of Israeli bombs.  It’s an emotional pressure-cooker where the Christian movement is marginalized and routinely on the defensive.

israeli-bomging south-beirut

It is easy to want to flee.  To get out.  Any sane person would do whatever they could to insure the safety of their family and the opportunity to pursue a life free from war, devastation and persecution.

But as those who are serious followers of Jesus know, the call of God is not a call to safety, personal peace or prosperity.  It’s a call to sacrifice and sometimes to suffering.


That’s why Nadim is one of my heroes.  He could take his wife, Julie, their son, and their two twin girls waiting to be born, and he could leave.  But he’s staying.  And more than that, he is committed to being, in word and deed, the presence of Jesus in this strategic region.  He is committed to giving his life to mentor, coach, train and multiply a new generation of leaders for the Christian movement in a region that is unquestionably the most critical flash point on the global scene.

cross-in-conflictThis month, the cover story on National Geographic magazine, entitled The Christian Exodus from the Holy Land, soberly describes how the beleaguered Christian population of the Middle East is shrinking.  In that part of the world where Christianity has its roots, the Church is fast becoming an endangered species.

May God multiply many times over more men and women with the courage, fortitude, and commitment of Nadim who will be the key to steming the tide this article describes.

Influence = Ardath Smith

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

ardath-smithChurch history is full of those unsung heroes who behind the scenes wield enormous influence because they have been connected to God in deep and profound ways.  They hear his voice.  And they are able to take others by the hand and help lead them into such a relationship with the holy.

Ardath is contemporary example of one of these.  As part of the CRM-US Staff Development and Care Team, she serves people all over the globe as a spiritual director.  Through her presence, she helps men and women discern the voice of God and see more clearly his fingerprints on their lives.  She does it quietly.  She does it gently.  She does it with remarkable discernment.  And she does it with class.

Ardath used to be a top drawer musician – cello was her instrument.  But she had to give it up because of physical limitations.  But God has compensated.  She now makes beautiful music with people’s lives that will last much longer than the momentary sounds that please the human ear.  And in that Spirit-empowered process, I am convinced she gives God great pleasure.

Influence = Jeri Little

Monday, May 25th, 2009


I met him in 1988.  He was a run n’ gun businessman from Orange Co, California who decided to go taste and see, in a 2 week trip, what life and ministry was like in communist Romania.  That experience turned his world upside down.

20 years later, Jeri Little has left a profound mark on Romania, 16 of those years having lived with his family in the city of Iasi in the northeast corner of the country, about 10 kilometers from the boarder of the former Soviet Union.

What Jeri and his wife Gloria have accomplished is nothing less than the remarkable.  It is one of the stellar success stories today of what business for mission is all about.  Today, the “Little Texas” complex – a 200 seat Tex-Mex restaurant, 4 star hotel, business and event center – is a testimony to Jeri’s skill, perseverance,  and obedience to God’s clear call.   Not only is it a model business demonstrating to Romanians customers and all who visit that business can be successful and run with Christian values and intent, but the profits from the complex are a major source of funding for an array of ministry initiatives in Romania and nearby Moldova.

littletexas121 littletexas01

It’s all been captured in a recently published volume, Merchant to Romania that’s available on Amazon.   It is a gripping story.   Through it all, I’ve been honored to walk with Jeri as a fan and most importantly, as a friend.


As Jeri turns his sights toward other business for mission projects in the Middle East and other places around the world, my hope is that God will use this story to inspire a legion of young entrepreneurs to follow in Jeri’s footsteps.

Jeri proves again, that all it really takes for God to use a life in extraordinary ways is a willingnss to simply “show up.”

Influence = Dave Everitt

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009


Dave Everitt is one of my heroes.

•    He is an unconventional “missionary.”  He breaks the stereotypes.
•    He puts flesh and blood to the concept of being apostolic.
•    Dave just “shows up” and God seems to do the rest.  No presumption.  No ego.  Just a willingness to be there and then trust God to do the supernatural.
•    The guy oozes passion.
•    He’s larger than life and is a mutation between a cross-cultural Rambo and a big, cuddly teddy-bear.
•    His legacy and influence in Cambodia will be legendary.  The lives he’s touched will affect the Christian movement in that nation for generations to come.

Dave and Lisa Everitt have lived and minister  in Cambodia with InnerCHANGE, CRM’s order among the poor.  For more information, go to

everitt-sf1I was with Dave in San Francisco last month and let him loose on a group of younger men – one in particular who may may have similar  potential to Dave but it’s latent – and Dave held court for four straight hours.   I was in tears at least three times as he recounted stories of God’s presence and faithfulness in Asia.  It was gripping.

There are places all over the world in need of people like Dave Everitt.  God, give us new generations of people willing to just “show up” and see the supernatural presence of God flow through them in word and deed.