This post comes from Gary Harrison. I met Gary a few years ago when on a short sabbatical in America. Gary is President of Pinnacle Ministries. Pinnacle Ministries basically grew out of a desire to help encourage healthy pastors leading healthy churches. You can read about what they get up to on their website.
Here is Gary, talking about the three leaders he would like to have fore dinner.
There’s a theme to the three people I’d love to share a meal with – all of them created something from nothing, and thereby changed their world.
General William (Wild Bill) Donovan
Born of first generation Irish immigrants in Buffalo, New York, he went on to earn a law degree from Columbia Law School, and become an influential Wall Street lawyer. He earned the nickname “Will Bill” while playing football for Columbia University, a name that would stick with him his whole life. He was unique in that he is the only person to receive the United States four highest awards – the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal and the National Security Medal.
It’s not his military career that would bring him to my table, as amazing as that was for someone who was not a professional soldier. Rather, it was his creation of the World War II Office of Strategic Services, America’s first intelligence agency. He assembled a team of people of experience and wealth, convincing them to serve for a dollar a year, to build and deploy the OSS. Facing a compelling need and overhelming resistance from without AND within, he was able to marshal and deploy a significant force against the enemy of freedom. Sound familiar? We too are called to marshal a force of volunteers to face a strong and fearsome enemy. I’d love to learn from one who did it well in his field of struggle.
Dwight Lyman Moody
“I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon him, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my Sunday School class…” So said Edwin Kimball of his recent class addition, D.L. Moody. Yet when he had the privilege of leading him to Christ, he started something that would change the world.
Unschooled and uneducated, yet Moody went on to found one of the world’s greatest Bible Institute. Speaking the simple gospel in the UN and UK, he led tens of thousands of people to Christ. As a graduate of MBI, I am a direct beneficiary of his work and philosophy. He insisted that his school always remain tuition free (paid for by donations) so that anyone could afford to attend. I would love to know how he kept resolute while facing overwhelming odds, all the while keeping the simple and pure gospel front and center. Perhaps an insight into to that drive was found in one encounter. A critic, who praised Moody for his zeal in filling the pews at Plymouth Church, said that he should realize his limitations and not attempt to speak in public. “You make too many mistakes in grammar,” said he. “I know I make mistakes,” was the reply, “and I lack many things, but I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got.” He then paused, and looking at the man searchingly, inquired, in his own inimitable way, “Look, here, friend, you’ve got grammar enough — what are you doing with it for the Master?”
Wernher von Braun
The last of my trio of guest seems an unlikely choice. Wernher Von Braun, a one-time Nazi party member, is perhaps best known as the mastermind and driving force behind the American space program. Born in Germany, Von Braun was the central figure in the Nazis’ rocket development program. His creation, the V-2 rocket, was responsible for taking many lives.
However, after his capture at the end of the war, he became the central figure in the US space program, spearheading the effort to reach the moon. Perhaps more importantly, at the invitation of a neighbor, he visited a church in El Paso, Texas, and ultimately surrendered his life to Christ.