Over 30 years ago, President Jimmy Carter gave his famous crisis of confidence speech to the nation.
Historians called that speech his “malaise” speech. Malaise is defined as a general feeling of discomfort, illness or uneasiness whose exact cause is difficult to identify. That feeling seems to be as strong today as it was back in 1979. A Rasmussen poll out in January indicated 63 percent thought the nation was on the wrong track.
People seem to want change. It has been a theme of the past several election cycles. The issue is how to achieve it. Some want governments to find a way; Americans today seem to expect a massive wave.
But history indicates that true change comes from changing people’s hearts. A radical message and a willing heart can shift the world one person at a time.
The Bible is full of stories of how God uses individuals to implement massive change, such as Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt. And a few men from Palestine set out upon the world armed with a powerful message. Moses and the disciples had the fortune to get the nudge straight from God and the Son of God.
But motivation comes from more humble, human sources. The book of Acts tells us how God used one Ananias of Damascus, a good guy, everyone said, to restore the sight of Saul of Tarsus. That act released the man we know as Paul the Apostle onto the world.
The chain of Christianity has grown long and strong with many links. Near the middle is Martin Luther. His work to translate the Bible for the German masses truly revolutionized the faith. He influenced William Tyndale, who translated Greek and Hebrew into the first English-language New Testament. From this would flow the King James version that crossed all oceans.
This change started with one person interacting with another. The power of one person telling another how faith changed his life seemed to unleash a power.
Some of the biggest movements in the history of the church started with one person sharing the story of their life with another. Evangelist George Whitefield preached throughout the American colonies in the 18th century. He started his faith through a Bible study in Oxford with John Wesley, who would be famous in his own right.
Dwight Moody was a huge evangelist in America in the 1800s. He was moved to convert by the testimony of his Sunday school teacher Edward Kimball. Billy Graham picked up his faith from the testimony of one person, Mordecai Ham. These evangelists would go on to change the lives of millions.
Most sitting in churches are there through some other person. So it seems that if we really want change in our communities, changed souls, it starts by talking to our neighbors. The next Paul or Billy Graham could be waiting on you.
Or it could be Ananias, willing to help others see.