restoring our biblical and constitutional foundations


Needed: A New Haystack Generation

 David Alan Black 

Have you heard of the “Haystack Prayer Meeting”? It took place on August 2, 1806, when five young Christians were forced to gather outdoors in Williamstown. Massachusetts, so as not to be interrupted by their fellow students at Williams College. A thunderstorm forced them to find shelter under a haystack, where they began praying about the needs of missions in Asia. One of them suddenly cried out, “We can do it if we will! We ourselves can go!” Eventually that haystack ignited a firestorm that would sweep across North America. The slogan took hold: “The Evangelization of the World in This Generation.”

It wasn’t too long ago when I had my own “haystack” moment. It was through a personal study of the Gospels that God grabbed my attention. These accounts of the words and deeds of Jesus started a missionary awakening in my heart. “God helping me,” I prayed, “I purpose to put the Gospel first in my life, before petty doctrines and personal agendas. Lord, if you tarry, I’ll serve you anywhere in the world.”

When Dwight L. Moody preached a revival at Cambridge University one year, his lack of formal education was glaringly obvious. He used expressions that were grammatical blunders, such as “he don’t.” One listener made a list of every error the preacher made and came up to him and said, “Mr. Moody, I jotted down every grammatical error you made tonight and I think this will help you in the future. Here they are.” Moody looked at him and said, “I know that I don’t know much grammar. But I’m using all the grammar I know for the glory of God. Are you using all the grammar you know for the glory of God?”

That’s a lesson we all need to learn. I can be a scholar and write books and give lectures in famous places, but if I’m not willing to go anywhere and do anything for the Savior, who loved me and gave Himself for me, I am nothing but a spiritual hypocrite.

Blessing comes only to those who are willing to obey. And obedience is impossible until the Holy Spirit makes us sensitive to the needs all around us. Jim Elliott was called to the Auca Indians of Ecuador because he saw the undeniable need. Years ago I was called to serve in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Why? By a very obvious need. It is exactly the kind of work God has prepared and equipped me to do. He has a worldwide purpose in Christ for every nation on earth. And He has given every Christian the privilege of being strategically involved in His purpose.

Are you a world Christian? Have you had your “haystack” movement?

May I encourage you to say with Isaiah, “Here am I Lord, send me.”

September 23, 2012

David Alan Black is the editor of

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