It started with a Gideon Bible and a 25-cent copy of Hal Lindsey's Late, Great Planet Earth. Three decades later, one man's passion to share the Good News remains as strong as ever.
On that great morning in Jerusalem, when the women saw the risen Christ for the first time, he told them to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee. There, he gave them the essence of a purpose-driven mission: Go into all the world and make disciples.
Since that day, Christians have understood the Great Commission for what it is. Well, some of them, at least.
A Barna report now reveals that a majority of American churchgoers don't know what the Great Commission is. As astonishing as that is to chew on, the reality is, it might get worse before it gets better. According to Barna:
"Age also makes a significant difference in whether churchgoers recognize the Great Commission. More than one-quarter of Elders (29%) and Boomers (26%) says they know the text, compared to 17 percent of Gen X and one in 10 Millennials (10%)."
Isaiah 55:10,11 tells us: "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
For the foreseeable future, the goal must be to get people biblically literate. A fascinating opportunity to do just that is actually under way in a small town in Arkansas.
Kerusso, the world's leading Christian apparel company, sends Scripture via its shirts and other products, shipping around the globe. Vic and Melody Kennett launched the company 30 years ago, and today, the effort is paying off in staggering numbers. Vic Kennett has never taken his eyes off the priority:
"Kerusso's name and purpose were founded on Mark 16:15, where Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world and preach (Kerusso) the Good News to all creation. This is why we exist as a company, and it's one of our greatest responsibilities we have as followers of Jesus. Mark records this as one of the last things Jesus said to his disciples before being received up into heaven. It was obviously of extreme importance to him, so it should be to all believers as well. A beautifully executed graphic design containing scripture, a clever phrase or a bold godly statement supported by scriptural reference embellished on a t-shirt will be read by as many as 3,000 viewers in its useful life! The Word of God is going out into the world creating millions upon millions of 'views,' all helping believers to fulfill the Great Commission that Jesus gave us."
Kennett and his Kerusso team are truly passionate about this mission. The backstory is just as compelling. In junior high, Vic identified as an atheist. But a Gideon Bible, and a quarter spent on a copy of The Late, Great Planet Earth at a flea market changed his life. Vic set out on a path that has taken him to fulfilling the desire of his heart: more souls for the Kingdom. The team at Kerusso accomplishes all this in myriad ways. One of the most intriguing has been developed by a long-time buddy, Dinny Bullard.
"Dinny is hands down the greatest example of a 'T-shirt evangelist' that I know," Kennett says. "He's been wearing Kerusso tees since I printed them by hand in 'the upper room' (the upstairs spare bedroom of Kennett's home, where Kerusso began). "He believes in the Great Commission and the ability of a scripturally sound t-shirt to open the door for conversations about the Good News of Jesus. Everywhere Dinny goes he'll be wearing a Kerusso shirt, and engaging all who comment in conversation about the shirt and its message."
Bullard and his wife, Luanne, travel around the country setting up booths. Their engagement with customers has yielded a wonderful catalog of testimonials, lives changed through Kerusso's mission statement.
In today's world, when Millennials especially are searching for a deeper meaning to life, Kerusso's work reaches out thousands and thousands of times a day, everywhere.
And each day, Vic Kennett is moved by these testimonials. His team wants to chip away at the effects of the Barna report, with the goal of seeing it obliterated.
"Kerusso it," brother!
Jim Fletcher is a long-time veteran of the Christian book publishing industry and an occasional contributor to OneNewsNow. He writes for a variety of publications and has authored several books.
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