Some years ago I experienced a couple of events that left a lasting mark on me. I had just accepted the request of the Global Leadership Team to become the International Chairman of YWAM and I had been thinking and praying about the new role with its responsibilities. We were meeting in a Christian hostel in Singapore at the time and, as I opened the door to leave my room, Loren Cunningham emerged from his room on the opposite side of the corridor. Instead of the usual greeting, he just said; “You know this is about your dream, don’t you?” His words stated exactly what I had been praying and thinking about.
The dream had occurred about ten years earlier. In it, I was with my family and we were guests at opening celebrations of the new headquarters of a Christian ministry. The buildings and their grounds were larger and grander than any I had ever seen. It seemed like all my friends, including YWAMers from all over the world, were there with their families.
The center-piece of this magnificent campus was a set of three very large buildings. The middle one was the tallest, at about 40 or 50 stories, and was flanked by buildings of about 15 stories on either side. They were due to open at dusk, with the main celebrations being held at the top of the tallest building that evening.
Throughout the day, my family and I strolled around the beautiful grounds, greeting friends, taking in concerts from Christian artists, and visiting exhibitions. At one point, as we walked alongside the buildings, a small piece of masonry, about the size of a postage stamp, fell on my shoulder. At that very moment in my dream I felt God spoke to me. That still, small voice seemed to be saying; “The buildings are not safe.”
I was immediately plunged into turmoil. What should I do about this “word from God”? Was it really the Lord, or just my imagination? If I went to the leaders of the organization they would think I was crazy. What weight would my words have compared to the architects and engineers who had designed and built the facilities?
On the other hand, if I began to shout warnings to the crowd, I would appear to be an idiot. And…if I did warn others so they did not go up then the building would probably stand up to the smaller load of people. That would make me a false prophet in everybody’s eyes.
In the end, I did the cowardly thing and kept quiet. When dusk came and people began to take the large, express elevators to the top, I told my wife and children that I did not think it was safe so we would watch from a distance. We walked a couple of hundred meters away and watched.
As the last load of people were lifted to the top of the tallest building, it appeared to shudder, crack and then it collapsed in exactly the same way we all watched the towers of the World Trade Center implode nearly a decade later. It was obvious that everyone had died. Then I woke up. It was so real that it took me several minutes to grasp that it was just a dream and that I was not responsible for the deaths of so many people, including many of my friends.
Within moments, I knew exactly what the dream meant: in all that we do, including Christian ministry, we tend to want to look good. The campus in my dream was supremely impressive, but the builders had scrimped on the steel in the buildings.
Through the dream God was making a powerful imperative that I should concentrate on the hidden things that will make us strong. God will take care of what people think of us. We should build for strength and Godliness. He will be in charge of our reputation.
In YWAM our plumb-line, and the steel in what we build, is the Word of the Lord to us. We are called to be sacrificial followers of Jesus. The command to be holy as He is holy is not an option for any Christian, much less for us because the call to Christ-like living was a stone that was firmly laid in our foundation.
Let’s make this a plea to every YWAMer who reads it: BUILD THE STEEL! Let us remember the command to be holy, let’s ask for more of the fear of God—which is to hate sin. Let us stand when the shakings come.