Updated: May 31
By Les Henson.
In Acts 4:13 we read, "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and took note that these men had been with Jesus." Peter and John were brought before the Jewish religious leaders because Peter had healed the man at the gate called beautiful in the name and power of Jesus (Acts 3). Furthermore, he had spoken to the crowd declaring that it was not by his own power that this man walks, but by faith in Jesus, whom they had crucified but whom God had raised from the dead.
The result was that the Jewish leaders became disturbed at the actions of these unschooled, ordinary men. So, they had them arrested and brought before them. Peter and John were just ordinary men who had been with Jesus. Yet, when the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost, these ordinary men became part of a new faith community that turned the world upside down. God loves to use ordinary people. He takes great pleasure in using the nobodies of this world. Paul writes in 2 Cor.4:7, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
Twelve years ago, I attended the funeral of Geoff Morrow, a former Tabor student, who worked for 30 odd years with Wycliffe Bible Translators. We were told at the funeral how Geoff in the early days of his ministry used to introduce himself by saying, "I'm Geoff Morrow. I'm a nobody from Nihill." Geoff was a country boy who never had great pretensions about his own self-importance nor his ability. He was a mission student of mine. Not the best student I have ever had, but he was one of the most grateful. He loved to learn and appreciated all the help that he received. After graduation, he would periodically turn up at my office door with a set of new questions for discussion. He developed many incredibly creative tools that helped people engage in and become excited about mission both here in Australia and overseas.
Geoff wanted to become a Bible translator, which stemmed from a deep love for the Word of God, which he read incessantly. But God never allowed him to become a Bible translator. Yet, I don't know anyone in Australia who has been responsible for more young people becoming Bible translators, missionaries, and pastors than Geoff Morrow. He loved people, and he loved Jesus. Consequently, God used him to turn people's lives upside down. Occasionally, during my time at Tabor, I felt discouraged, then Geoff would turn up, and by the time he left, I was reinvigorated. He helped me understand again that what I was doing was of real significance.
Richard Rohr, in his book, Adam's Return makes five statements concerning the things that traditional societies teach during male initiation. Those five statements epitomise Geoff Morrow and the life he lived. They are:
1. Life is Hard – Geoff learned that working on the farm near Nihill.
2. You are Not Important – He was a nobody from Nihill.
3. Your Life is Not About You – He lived his life serving and encouraging others.
4. You are Not in Control – He wanted to be a Bible translator, but God said, NO!
5. You are Going to Die – He lived his life to the full and made it count.
Geoff died at the age of 60 in the Philippines among a people he had learned to love and serve. Diamond Valley Baptist Church was full to overflowing on the day of his funeral with people who had been touched by his life and ministry. Like Peter and John, Geoff Morrow was AN ORDINARY MAN. But he knew Jesus. He walked with Jesus; His life was a passionate love affair with Jesus. And this ordinate man was used by Jesus to change the lives of hundreds of people.
We live in an age of celebrities; however, it is not celebrities who turn the world upside down. It is ordinary men and women who like Peter, John, and Geoff Morrow, love Jesus, and obediently follow him with all their heart, whom God uses to turn the world upside down.
My prayer for each of you that read this is that you would accept your ordinariness. But in doing so, you would come to know Jesus in such a way that those around you will recognise that you have been with him. And in knowing Jesus, you will become one of those ordinary people who turn the world upside down.