Right now, I’m sitting in the back of a plane, flying at 35,000 feet for almost 16 hours from Doha (Qatar) to Dallas. To be honest, I don’t like flying at all—but Kathy and I have been doing it for 45 years!
So why do we do it?
We are just coming from Arusha, Tanzania, where we met with 89 of our AWR radio producers from all over Africa—from 30 different countries! They have incredible stories to tell—from witches being converted after listening to AWR broadcasts, to some of our broadcasters being shot and imprisoned just for airing our programs! I have seen and heard of drug hitmen, and rebel army generals who have given their hearts to Jesus and been baptized after listening to our programs.
Then there’s Abraham, a Maasai chief I just met, who is experiencing God’s remarkable blessings after giving a tenth of his huge herd of cattle to Jesus for tithe—because he listens to AWR! I recently shared with you how many of his cows are now having twins instead of single births. This is unheard of! Cows almost always have only one calf during the yearly calving cycle.
And there’s Jon, a convicted murderer on death row in Tanzania, who began to listen to AWR and found hope and forgiveness. His life was drastically changed, and prison officials were so impressed with the transformation, that Jon was released from death row—and then from prison!
All this is thrilling, because nothing compares with the joy of leading others to Jesus. That’s why I often say I have the best job in the world!
So is this why I do what I do?
No! I do it because of one thing: the empty tomb in Jerusalem. Because like Paul said, “If Christ be not risen, then our faith is in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14)
A few weeks ago, Kathy and I attended some meetings in Jordan. We were able to go to Israel for a few days, so on Sabbath evening we found ourselves at the Garden Tomb. But there is something special about this tomb, which makes it different from the tombs of all other well-known religious leaders through the ages: the tomb where Jesus was buried more than 2,000 years ago is now empty! And I can prove it!
Think with me for a few moments: according to the Bible and secular history, Jesus was crucified on Friday, placed in a sealed tomb by Roman soldiers, and resurrected on Sunday morning.
The Roman soldiers said they were asleep and saw nothing. Really? A whole squad of them—10 to 60 soldiers—asleep? Even today, soldiers all over the world know that the penalty for sleeping while on duty is death! Would all these Roman soldiers be asleep at the same time? Never! It’s absurd to think otherwise. Not even one would have slept while on guard.
And there was Mary. Would she lie about something so precious as the empty tomb—seeing no soldiers, and then seeing Jesus? She ran to Jerusalem and told John and Peter, who then ran back to the tomb, and finding it empty, no doubt cried out, “He’s alive, I’m forgiven, heaven’s gates are open wide. He’s alive!”
Then there was doubting Thomas who would not believe until he saw and touched Jesus in the upper room. And the two disciples, Cleopas and his friend who talked with the resurrected Jesus and watched him disappear from sight!
And for the next 40 days, those who had been brought forth in the special resurrection with Jesus were seen many times in and around Jerusalem. Then there was the ascension. Oh, how I wish I could have been there at the Mount of Olives when Jesus started going up in front of his disciples. In amazement they watched as the angels said, “Why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus shall come in the same way!”
How exciting! That is the message that AWR360º Broadcast to Baptism is giving to the whole world. Jesus is coming again! What a passionate message to proclaim through all media!
But is this proof of an empty tomb? No. You see, the proof comes from logic and reason: each of the 11 disciples (plus Paul) who had seen Jesus, all died violent deaths, except for John (he was placed in a pot of boiling oil but God protected him so he could write the book of Revelation from the island of Patmos), because they had seen Jesus, and they knew He was alive. They knew it was no hoax. Would anyone die for a lie? Would anyone die trying to convince others that they had seen a real person come back to life and ascend to heaven if they were lying? No! All the disciples died for the same passionate conviction!
It is interesting that Thomas—the one disciple who doubted what the others had seen— made his way to Madras, India. That’s right, doubting Thomas traveled by foot part way around the world telling others about the resurrected Christ, whom he had seen and touched!
Thomas worked tirelessly among the people of India, so much so, that when our first missionaries arrived in that region more than 100 years ago, they found a group of Sabbath-keeping Christians!
Thomas is now buried in Chennai. It was there where he was brutally killed for his faith. One day as he knelt in prayer he was pierced by a spear and fell where he knelt—a faithful soldier for Jesus. His tomb is not empty, but he rests, waiting for Jesus to call him on Resurrection morning. What a blessed hope!
Kathy and I flew to Chennai after our meetings in Jordan, because that is where our next AWR360º/TMI project will be. When you receive this issue of Transmissions, our AWR team will be in Madras, and all over India, including Kolkata, Pune and Chennai.
But there’s more. There are more than 100 million people who over the years—and especially during the Dark Ages—have given their lives just as the disciples did, because they believed what they had not seen—that Jesus is alive! They believed what the angels promised: that this same Jesus is preparing a home in heaven for us and is coming again to take us home.
That’s what AWR360º Broadcast to Baptism is all about! Broadcasting, proclaiming and fulfilling the gospel commission! Those who proclaim and receive this message are willing to lay down their lives, because they still believe in the empty tomb.
That’s it! Why do I do what I do? Because of the empty tomb—because this same Jesus will return! And sharing this message is the best news of all.
Yours in the Blessed Hope,