One of the greatest miracles since Jesus walked on Earth was the growth of the Christian church from 120 followers nearly 2,000 years ago into a movement of 2.2 billion people today, nearly one-third of the world’s population. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit provided the spark for the apostles to begin sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, but a man who was not in that group was instrumental in the growth of the early Christian church. Each Bible student knows the story of Paul, his miraculous conversion, and his travels. Without doubt, Paul was the greatest Christian missionary this world has ever known. His missionary journeys covered over 10,000 miles, took more than nine months of actual travel time, and lasted over ten years.
Before Paul began his work, Jews comprised most of the members in the early Christian church. Jesus’ followers were saddled by their culture and genealogy and brought their baggage of rules that nearly made it impossible for Gentiles to join them. If the gospel were to reach the Gentiles, there had to be a person who could define the gospel message so the great commission would not fail just a few years after Jesus gave it. Because Paul was both a Jew and a Roman citizen, he was uniquely qualified to reach both Jews and Gentiles. He was equally able to converse with common people in the temple or have a scholarly discussion with the intelligentsia of his day.
At the time of Paul’s ministry, it is estimated there were at least four million Jews living outside of Israel. They had left their homeland because of economic hardship and continuing warfare over the land of Israel. Even before Jesus was born, Julius Caesar allowed the Jews to move to other cities in the Roman Empire where they thrived and were allowed to practice their chosen religion. Paul was born a Jew from the lineage of Benjamin. (Philippians 3:5) He was also a Roman citizen, either because he was the son of a citizen or because he was born in the Roman city of Tarsus.
We can learn more about sharing the gospel today if we study the way Paul conducted his ministry. When the Lord called Paul on the road to Damascus, He gave Paul a mission to share this gospel with the Gentiles. (Acts 22:21) The gospel had started with Jewish Christians, but Paul took that gospel and used it to convert Jews and Gentiles to Christianity. When Paul traveled to a new location to share the gospel, he usually began by going to the Jewish synagogue. Acts 13 describes what Paul and Barnabas did when they arrived at Pisidian Antioch. On Sabbath, they went to the synagogue and were asked to speak “a word of encouragement” to the people. (Acts 13:15) The following week, word of Paul and Barnabas’ testimony spread throughout the city and the next Sabbath, most of the city was there to hear them speak. “When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.” (Acts 13:45) Paul and Barnabas answered by saying, “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” (Acts 13:46,47)
This month, Wake Up America Seminars is beginning a new phase of its ministry. Like Paul, Larry Wilson has spent a lifetime since his conversion experience proclaiming that Jesus will soon return and eternal life is freely available to those who are willing to walk by faith. Larry has presented his conclusions about prophecy and this understanding has changed lives. Since its inception, Wake Up America Seminars has had a twofold ministry. The first objective is reaching the uninformed through books, videos, seminars, and Bible studies. The second is to encourage supporters who understand Revelation’s story and want to join WUAS in sharing the exciting news that Revelation’s events will soon be fulfilled. Paul used his background as a Jew to access those in the synagogue and he challenged them to consider that Jesus was the Messiah; then he took the same message and shared it with the Gentiles. From reading Paul’s writings, we can understand “how” he shared the gospel, but even if we follow the “how” of Paul’s ministry, we cannot achieve everything that God desires for WUAS. We have to comprehend the “what” of Paul’s ministry and how it flourished in the early Christian church after Paul was physically unable to present the gospel. Likewise, we need to take what Larry Wilson developed and replicate it the same manner as Paul’s followers did for WUAS to continue the Lord’s work.
Unfortunately, it would take much more space than we have this month to do a complete study of Paul’s activities and writings to learn what he did to support the growth of the early Christian church. However, Paul’s farewell to the elders at the church of Ephesus reveals a striking similarity to the situation that exists with WUAS today. (Acts 20:19-27) No one can argue that Larry has followed in the footsteps of Paul, presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ in every way he possibly could. Like Paul and the elders of Ephesus, there are many of us who may not see Larry again until the resurrection. Many of us have been dependent on Larry to provide spiritual nourishment through the years and we will miss him dearly. Likewise, the elders from Ephesus were sad to see Paul leave. “They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.” (Acts 20:37,38)
Paul assigned the elders to be overseers of the church at Ephesus. He exhorted the elders, “Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28) The future of WUAS is dependent on those of us who have learned the message Larry has presented to be shepherds of the message the Lord has given us. The future challenge for WUAS is to support each of you and provide materials that will help you share this message. Also, WUAS will continue attempting to reach new people with Revelation’s story. We have been prayerfully considering these dual goals over the past few months and we have some ideas we would like to share:
- We plan to continue being a resource for information concerning Bible prophecy. People call and email the office regularly with Bible questions and requests for information and we plan to be available for you.
- We also will be producing new materials about Bible prophecy such as study guides or small brochures answering specific prophecy questions. These can either be used for individual study, group study, or to share with friends.
- We plan to continue producing DVD’s and videos for YouTube that can be viewed and shared. There will be new videos produced as well as subject area videos using edited portions of Larry’s videos to answer specific questions.
- One of the continuing problems we have faced in the past is that WUAS supporters are dispersed throughout the world. Many people do not have a church they can attend and may be worshiping in small groups or home churches. We want to do more to support people who would like to study and share with others. Currently, we keep a contact list of people who have expressed an interest in studying with others. Unfortunately, WUAS receives requests from individuals who are geographically dispersed, so cannot connect with other people. We plan to develop opportunities for like-minded believers to study with one another even if separated by the miles. We are currently considering options using social media, like Facebook, as a way of fostering relationships among WUAS supporters.
- Currently, WUAS has this monthly newsletter, The Wake Up Report! and we also have a weekly email called the WUAS NewsWatch. We plan to continue these avenues to share Biblical concepts, prayer requests, news from WUAS, and links to news headlines of interest to those studying Bible prophecy. If you wish to subscribe to the NewsWatch, please give us a call.
We do have some exciting news that I would like to share with you about the tools we are using now to reach thousands of people each day with the news that Jesus is soon to return.
- Nearly four years ago, a friend of WUAS, James Hall, approached us and told us that due to our antiquated website, we were reaching very few people. He offered to assist us to upgrade the website to new software so WUAS could reach many more people over the internet. Little did we know how much impact this would have on WUAS. The hundreds of hours of work he did in 2014-15 to convert the website at wake-up.org provided the foundation for the web presence we have today. At the time, we were unwilling to give up our most cherished method of indexing the site. We liked the idea of having a website with information sorted by historical dates of publication. Unfortunately for our plans, internet search engines give priority to websites sorted by subject matter, rather than date. Last year we made a decision to convert the website so people could study WUAS materials by subject. Rex Johnson spent many hours determining the correct subjects and titles for nearly twenty years’ worth of materials that Larry has written. The website now uses subject-based indexing.
- After the conversion, we observed a gradual increase in visitors; but it can take at least six months after major website changes to learn if the changes have increased the number of visitors. In December 2017, we had an average of 1,250 visitors each day visiting pages on our website. We were very pleased with the number of visitors, but we had no idea what the Lord was going to do in subsequent months. Beginning with 2018, the increase of visitors to the WUAS website changed from gradual to extreme. During the month of May, we had an average of 5,283 visitors to the website each day. That is a fourfold increase in just five months. Wow! Today, if a person does a search for a prophetic subject on Google, WUAS is often one of the top three links on the first page. Sometimes, we have two links on the first page! Now, considering there are only ten available links per page out of millions of pages on Google, that’s quite impressive.
- While the growth in number of YouTube video viewers is not as spectacular, there has also been a substantial increase in YouTube viewing this past year. Comparing the first parts of 2017 and 2018, people have watched at least part of nearly 12,000 more videos and 1,250 more hours in 2018 than 2017. Between January and May 2018, people watched 15,231 hours of videos.
We praise the Lord for the growth that has allowed us to share Revelation’s story with many more people. We plan to build on this foundation, but we need your help to share the message of Jesus’ soon return.
- For over thirty years, Larry has written an article for The Wake Up Report! nearly every month. The amount of information Larry has shared freely is astounding. Surely the Lord has blessed Larry to provide so much relevant information about Bible prophecy and other scriptural questions. This month I wanted to share with you some of the activities and plans for WUAS. However, we could use your help to prepare articles that you believe would interest other people. We have already had several people who have volunteered to write future newsletters, but we would love to share Bible studies, personal testimonies, or other relevant information. Just call or email the office and we can put you on the list to write a future The Wake Up Report!
- We would like to have new study guides and improve current ones on hand to be used on the internet as well as group Bible study. If you are called to prepare some relevant study guides to share with others either on the internet or in hard copy, we promise that we will put them to good use. The study guides can potentially reach thousands of people over the internet.
- Please share any ideas you have for how we can improve the materials we create to provide for people who understand Revelation’s story, those who are learning about Bible prophecy, or those who happen onto the WUAS website.
- We especially would appreciate your prayers, both for Larry and for the ministry that he founded. WUAS is facing important decisions regarding the future of the ministry. We hope you join us in praying that the Holy Spirit gives us wisdom to make the right choices. We want to make decisions that are Spirit led which allow us to continue sharing this unique message until end-time events begin.
The Bible mentions fourteen churches that Paul visited during his missionary journeys, but, most likely, he visited many more. Today, many people throughout the world have heard Larry’s message and can share this gospel of a soon coming King. As Paul was nearing death, he wrote a letter to his beloved “son in the faith,” Timothy. The guidance that Paul gave in 2 Timothy is just as relevant for us today. Like Timothy, each of us has been entrusted with a message to share. “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (2 Timothy 1:13,14) We have been entrusted with sound teaching, and now let us share the end-time message Larry has given us, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Like Timothy, now is the time “to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:1,2) May God grant us this same strength to continue His ministry..