(Editor’s Note: I got to work on March 8 at 7:00 a.m. just like I always do. As I was going through my morning emails the “ding” of a new email sounded. It was my friend and fellow kingdom-laborer Dr. John Neihof, Jr., President of Wesley Biblical Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. He had sent me the final draft of his new book Holiness…In a World of Chaos. He invited me to post any of the chapters in the book on The Stand. You can imagine my shock when only a couple of hours later I received word that Dr. Neihof had suddenly passed away. So it is with sadness but also a profound sense of gratefulness that I post this first chapter in his book (there will be other chapters posted in the weeks ahead). Dr. Neihof was a Bible scholar, a kingdom visionary, and a tremendous leader. It is fitting that this last work of scholarship was on his favorite subject: holiness. If you want to purchase a copy of this book please click HERE.)
As sin and injustice tear the world apart, holiness promises to put it back together. Holiness brings healing to the individual, the home, the workplace, the city, the state, the nation, and the world. It shows compassion, faces outward, fights for justice, loves the unlovable, and invites others to Jesus.
Holy people are transformed people who, in turn, transform their world. They do not promote their personal brand or trumpet their own resumé. They promote Christ. As a result, those around them are drawn to their humility, obedience, service, and surrender. Everywhere holy people go, they make the world a better place.
R.C. Ghuna Kumar is a holy man who has mightily impacted his homeland of India. In 1992 Ghuna completed his studies at Wesley Biblical Seminary and returned to India with a passion for souls. His evangelistic fervor to spread the message of holiness throughout India led countless men, women, and children to Christ. He was such an effective evangelist that some have referred to Ghuna as the Saint Paul of India. Ghuna founded Gospel Friends, a nonprofit ministry focused on orphanages for children, job training for women, evangelism, and discipleship. Ghuna does not simply talk about social transformation; he grounds himself in the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and then goes about the business of changing his world.
Robert Stevenson’s troubled life was spinning out of control. After four years in a federal prison on a drug charge, he was released and soon heard Christ’s call to become a missionary. Robert soon found himself in Mexico, ministering to prisoners and engaging in street preaching. Eventually he met a born-again Catholic priest who renounced his priesthood and invited Robert to partner with him in ministry. A 40-night revival grew the priest’s congregation of the Monte Maria Church to several thousand. On his deathbed, he named Robert the new pastor.
The church grew, more churches were planted (55 to date), and Robert, with a hunger to know Christ more deeply, enrolled in Wesley Biblical Seminary. Robert says, “One of the things I’ve learned at Wesley is the emphasis on discipleship.” He meets weekly with a Wesley professor and conducts discipleship groups in his burgeoning congregation while continuing to appoint missionaries to serve as evangelists and church planters in Colombia, Spain, and even America. But Robert’s passion for holiness doesn’t allow him to be an executive pastor far from the needs of his city. Weekly he leaves his church grounds to lead maximum-security inmates from their own darkness into God’s light.
One of the defining passions of Wesley Biblical Seminary across the years has been pro-life ministry. WBS students have regularly been found in sidewalk ministry in front of the local abortion clinic, lovingly engaging women in conversations that have saved over 900 babies’ lives. One of these young women wrote:
I just want you to know that I am a mother to a very loving and wonderful 6 year old boy named Isaac. He just finished kindergarten and loves everything superhero! He hates vegetables and loves chocolate chip cookies. At night he loves to give me the biggest of hugs and in the morning he is pure sunshine.
To top it off, God made it possible for me to finish college in 2008, and led me to a very godly man to whom I am now married, and who loves Isaac as if he were his very own. He is in his 3rd year of medical school and will graduate in 2014.
Six years ago I did not believe any of this could be possible, but you did. You helped me to choose life and trust in God over fear and death.
Students have been bold witnesses to the reality that learning holiness in a classroom is hardly enough; holiness must be displayed in the hardest and darkest places of culture.
“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
This is holiness: doing justly, loving mercy, walking humbly with God. Holiness is, in fact, justice with a powerful social reach. But this justice is rooted in Scripture, not revolution. Holy justice, is righteousness in action. Slowly, bit-by-bit, we seek to be present in places others ignore, allowing the Spirit of the living God to use us to transform unrighteous situations one life at a time.