As I walked up Broadway during rush hour and looked into the faces of the passing crowds, a thought struck my soul like a thunderclap: “Almost every person passing by is going to hell.”
I realize this may come across as harsh or presumptuous. You might think, “Surely some of those passersby know the Lord. Certainly many in that massive crowd had seen or experienced religion of some kind.”
With every block I walked, I was hit again and again with the thought: “They’re lost. They’re going to spend eternity without Jesus!” Finally, I tried comforting myself with the thought, “But our church has seen thousands of people converted. Times Square Church is one of the largest congregations in New York City.”
Still, something nagged at my soul. I had to acknowledge before the Lord, “Oh, Father, I don’t have the burden I once had. I don’t weep the way I did when I first came to New York City!”
In 1958, Gwen and I were living in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, a town of around 1,500. In those days, I would walk into the woods near our home and weep for hours over the souls in New York. I owned a little green Chevrolet, and each week as I drove to the city to minister, I wept during the entire three-hour drive.
Today I preach in one of the most beautiful theaters in the world, the historic Mark Hellinger Theatre. Yet, I wonder how many in our congregation and how many reading this feel the way I felt walking up Broadway. I had to stop and ask myself: “How long has it been since you wept for the lost? Do you still have the Lord’s burden to reach them with the gospel?”
Are you able to work alongside your colleagues, greet your neighbors, talk to your unsaved family members and never once be concerned for their souls? Is your mind occupied with simply surviving — providing for your family? Are you no longer burdened, witnessing, reaching out to the lost and dying world?
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalms 126:5-6).