Maj. James Howard was a fighter pilot in World War II. During one mission, he was separated from his squadron, but found the lead B-17 Flying Fortress bomber group. Each bomber had 30 men on board and there were ten planes in the air when he joined up; 300 souls were at stake. The Luftwaffe soon dove toward the bombers. Howard gunned his Mustang P-51B fighter’s engine and climbed straight toward them. After each engagement, he returned to escort the lead bomber. Howard downed six planes, damaged many others, and even chased off the enemy when he didn’t have any more bullets. He stayed with the lead bomber group until they were back safely where he could head to his own airbase. No bombers in that group were lost that day.
When confronted with lostness in your community, what do you do? Are you ready to engage people with the gospel? Do you back away or do you pray a quick prayer, trust the Holy Spirit to empower you as an Acts 1:8 witness, and warmly meet a new opportunity to share your faith in Christ? Are you living as an intentional witness?
My counsel to pastors is to lead from the front. What you do, your church members will see and copy. Kevin Harvey, author of Organic Evangelism, put it this way, “Lead it, live it.” Micah Fries, Lifeway’s Assoc. VP Research, said in my presence, “Don’t make friends SO that you can tell them about Jesus. Make friends AND tell them about Jesus.”
Get off the ground by recruiting a highly relational guy in your church to go with you as your wingman. Follow-up on every visitor in the past year. After three months, switch and you be his wingman. After another three months, suggest to this guy that he needs to get his own wingman and you get someone new. Enlist small group leaders to follow your lead and get their own wingman.
Major Howard left his airfield day after day on a mission. For his courage on January 11, 1944, Howard received the only Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to an airman in the European Theater. When you leave home each day, are you on the lookout for ways to meet those without Christ? Are you staying on mission day after day?
It’s a target-rich environment when you’re “flying” for the Lord.