Dozens of visitors waited in line at the Billy Graham Library April 13, eager to meet author Henry Blackaby, the man who changed their lives with his words and Scriptural guidance.
Blackaby is founder and president emeritus of Blackaby Ministries International. But in 1970, he was called to pastor a small Canadian congregation of 10 people who were ready to give up on their church. Blackaby’s mission: show them how to have “a personal encounter with a living Lord.” Membership multiplied, and 38 new churches, along with a theological college, were founded.
Twenty years later, Blackaby wrote Experiencing God, a book about doing God’s will read by pastors and lay people alike. The book has sold more than 7 million copies in 45 languages.
So does God really have a plan for you? Can you actually have a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe?
Yes, and yes.
Everyone has the same calling, Blackaby said during an interview after the event. It’s a call to a relationship with God. But how God unfolds that relationship and what He has in mind for each person is different.
Blackaby thought back to when he first started writing the book in his mid-50s. Someone suggested he name the book Knowing God, but Blackaby declined, saying the title would speak to head knowledge. People need to experience God, he said, not just know Him.
“The presence of God in your life is always sufficient,” Blackaby said, “and you don’t need any more. He’ll develop you to match the assignment.”
Where many people once felt apathetic and lackadaisical toward God, they are now zealous for the Lord, committing their lives to Him and discovering His plan for them with help from Blackaby’s book. He is quick to point the attention upwards. Blackaby’s signature during the book signing always followed the words “His servant.”
Blackaby and his wife, Marilynn, live in Georgia. All five of their children are involved in ministry, and their third son is their pastor.
We talked with a few of the dozens who visited the Billy Graham Library Friday for Blackaby’s book signing about how Experiencing God has impacted them through the years.
Cindy Morello, Charlotte
Cindy works at the Library and used her day off to spend another afternoon there. She’s gone through an Experiencing God Bible study three times and said she gets something new out of it every time. The book has encouraged her to get more involved at church, she said, so she’s “not just passing the buck to somebody else.” The mom of two has taken fellow church members to Mexico for mission work.
Donald Lyons, Walterboro, S.C.
Donald read Experiencing God in 1991. In 2001, he started Haiti Under God, an organization that feeds children, cares for orphans, and teaches pastors and lay people how to experience God for themselves. With help from the Texas Baptist Men, the organization shares Experiencing God – translated into French – with the people there. Some people travel for hours to attend the sessions. More than 1,000 people have participated so far.
Tim Brouillette, Concord
Before getting in line for the book signing, Tim bought The Man God Uses, a book that Blackaby co-authored with his son. Tim, a Concord resident who works in building maintenance, has nearly finished Experiencing God and said it has taught him not only to rely on his Heavenly Father but to be a better father himself. He flipped through the book on his lunch break, showing one highlighted passage after another.
Okie Dickson, Rock Hill, S.C.
Okie just heard of Blackaby this year when her pastor decided to lead a study on Experiencing God – a study that Okie deems “life changing.”
“I always want to wait on the Lord to lead me,” she said.
She hasn’t shied away from singing in church, but, before reading the book, was too afraid to commit to anything else. She recently stepped in to help the seniors at her church.
Okie also finds that her mind tends to wander as she cares for two small children and keeps her household. Experiencing God helps her focus on her walk with God.
“When you’re more aware of what God is doing around you, you want to jump on board,” she said.
Jeannie Golden, Rock Hill, S.C.
Jeannie attends the same church as Okie. Her dad is a pastor and her husband is an associate pastor. “I was living in someone else’s experience,” she said.
But after reading Experiencing God, Jeannie says she has a deeper relationship with her Maker. The mom of four hopes to lead a young women’s ministry.
Randy Tschetter, Lynchburg, Va.
A member of Randy’s Sunday school class gave him a copy of Experiencing God Day-by-Day in 2000. This is the 12th year Randy has gone through the daily devotional.
Randy and his wife made the four-and-a-half hour drive from their home in Lynchburg, Va., Friday to meet Blackaby in person. The cherished devotional has encouraged Randy to boldly share the Gospel, he said, and he regularly uses excerpts at his monthly men’s breakfast. Randy has also gone on two mission trips to Thailand to further serve God’s people.
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