It wasn’t like I was wasting my time twiddling my thumbs. There are 82,000 names on our church roll. We're building a megachurch, baptized 15,000 new believers in the last 10 years. So I wasn’t just goofing off. But God said, "But you don’t care about the people I care about." And I said, "I’m sorry, God, and I will use whatever affluence and influence you give me [for] the rest of my life to help those who have no influence." So that was the first thing that changed my life.

The second thing that changed my life was when Kay read an article by Newsweek that says 14 million orphaned by AIDS in Africa. She threw it on the ground and said, "I couldn’t imagine 14 million people being orphaned by anything much less AIDS." She said, "I don’t know one orphan." And as she began to read the article, God said, "You can either open your heart to this and let your heart be broken, or you can close your heart off and not be used." So she made the decision to say, "I will be a spokesman and use my influence for people who are infected and affected by AIDS."

When she comes to me and shares this with me she says, "I am a white suburban pastor’s wife, what can I do?" And as she began to share it with me my first thought is, "Honey that is great and I am glad for you and for your vision. You supported me in the vision of starting the church and I’m going to support you. But it isn’t my vision. It just isn’t my vision."

But the more she began to talk to me the more it began to grab my heart. And break my heart. We always say the most powerful talk is pillow talk. The husband may be the head of the family, but the wife is the neck that turns the head.

When she was going to Africa later that year to Mozambique and Malawi to work with people infected with AIDS, I decided to go with her. So I go with her to Johannesburg. We trained about 80,000 to 90,000 pastors that week. And I thought that is why I had gone.

Rick Warren on his reach to Africa
But God had another idea. After the conference was over, I said, "Take me out to a village." I want to see a normal, average church and meet normal pastors, the guys I dedicated "The Purpose-Driven Church" to. So we go out to this little village and we find this tent church. It was 75 people, 50 adults and 25 kids orphaned by AIDS.

I get out of the car, and this young African pastor walks up to me and says, "I know who you are." I said, "How do you know who I am?" He said, "You're Pastor Rick." I said, "How do you know who I am?" He said, "I get your sermons every week."

Now here is the thing. I decided in 1980, when I started the church, that I was never going to put the services of the church on TV or the radio, because I didn’t want to be a celebrity. Always being in the spotlight blinds you. What I did was put them all on the Internet. We were the first church on the Internet in 1992. We charged people who could pay for them and gave them away free to the rest of the world.

So I looked at this guy and said, "How are you getting my sermons? You don’t even have water or electricity in this village." He said, "No, but they are putting the Internet in every post office in South Africa. So once a week I walk an hour and a half to the nearest post office and I download your free sermon and then I walk back and I teach it to my church." And he said, "Pastor Rick, you are the only training I’ve ever had."

"When David takes on Goliath people go, 'Yeah God.'"
Read more on page 4 >>

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