Recently, Will spoke with Decision magazine about his ministry and his love for the Word of God.
Q: How did you come to know Jesus Christ?
A: I was about 7 years old, and we were having communion at church. I thought, “This is good, because I’m hungry.” When the trays came by, I said, “Give me some.” But my parents wouldn’t let me. I saw some other kids my age taking communion, and I thought, “What in the world is going on? I’m getting cheated at church.” I thought maybe I had misbehaved or my parents thought I would spill it or something.
When we got home, Dad took time to tell me why I couldn’t have it. He said that if I wanted Jesus to come in my life, then I needed to ask for forgiveness of my sins. Dad led me to the Lord in my bedroom.
Q: Describe your initial call to the ministry.
A: It was in second grade. The teacher told us to draw a picture of what we want to do in life. All the guys were drawing footballs. Everybody wanted to be Joe Montana. I drew two pictures, an open Bible and a pair of headsets, like those they use in aviation. I wanted to be a pilot, like my dad, and go around telling others about Jesus. At age 15, I told the Lord, “I’ll do whatever You want me to do. If it’s flying airplanes, telling people about Jesus in the jungles of Africa, that’s fine. If You want me doing Crusades, that’s fine. If You just want me to type on a computer somewhere, I’m fine with that. Just use me for ministry.”
Q: How did God lead you to start holding evangelistic Crusades?
A: There was no set day or time when God said, “Here, it begins today.” My first large-scale outreach was in Barrie, Ontario, in 2004. The BGEA Canadian office was planning one-night youth events, and they asked me if I would come. If people are asking you to tell others about Jesus, you can’t say no.
We had our first Celebration in LeDuc, right outside of Edmonton, Alberta, in April. That was my first three-day event, and the Gaston County Celebration in Gastonia was my second.
Q: What have you learned from your grandfather and your father about ministry?
A: Granddaddy’s given me wonderful words of wisdom. He said, “There’s two things I wish I’d done more each and every day—pray and study.” Almost every time I see him, he’s reading the Bible. My dad gives me a lot of practical wisdom, how to “get it done.”
Q: What do you draw on from your seminary training in your ministry?
A: Liberty University is where I fell in love with the Bible. I had a professor who taught Old Testament so well. From him, I learned that the Bible isn’t all separate stories. It’s one story, all the way from Genesis to Revelation. People have to learn how to study the Bible. That should be mandatory for any Christian. When I went to Southeastern, I just wanted to continue that.
Q: What aspect, theologically, really grabbed you and influences your preaching now?
A: Another one of my professors taught me how to go through a book of the Bible verse by verse. I still have the notes from his class, and I still teach from them.
Discipleship is really my heart, and evangelism is a by-product of discipleship. When Jesus said to go out into all the world, evangelize and make disciples, He was talking to 11 men whom He had personally discipled for three years. So, after discipling, He said to go out to evangelize, for the purpose of discipling. That’s what I love about the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. It’s the discipling arm of BGEA.
Q: How is the culture different today from when your grandfather preached?
A: There’s a lot of things fighting for people’s attention. When you turn on the TV, there are not three channels—there are 300. There’s music, iPods, e-mail. When it comes to evangelism, you have to be more direct and pointed in your time. You’ve got to get in there and tell people about Jesus, because within a few minutes their attention span is gone and they’ve switched channels.
Q: What does it feel like to see people coming forward to accept Christ?
A: It’s humbling. If I’m at my dad’s Crusade, I’m usually bawling and praying a lot. I fill up with tears even now as I’m thinking about it. But when I’m preaching, I seem to hold my emotions better. Maybe the Lord has given me some type of emotional strength at that time. But when my dad is preaching and I see big bikers or people like that coming and they’re bawling, I can’t help but be touched. Seeing the brokenness of people, seeing them come to Christ by faith—I get so excited for them. It’s overwhelming.