I have a confession to make: I love to work. I live in an area of the country where many people come to retire to a life of golfing, collecting seashells, sailing on a boat. They’re all nice things in and of themselves, but I can’t imagine devoting the rest of my days to those kinds of pursuits.
Preaching the Gospel to prisoners, writing, and teaching about biblical worldview: These are things woven in the fabric of who I am. They thrill me every day.
And let me tell you, there are few greater thrills for me than teaching one hundred men and women each year in our Centurions program, a year-long intensive course designed to help Christians understand a biblical worldview and put it into action. That thrill is multiplied when I hear about Centurion graduates like John Nunnikhoven, whom I mentioned yesterday.
John’s a man after my own heart. When he retired from his job as an inn-keeper in Vermont, he decided to enroll in the Centurions program. He was enthusiastically looking forward to brushing the dust off some of the philosophy and theology books he had collected on his shelf. He had little idea just how active his retirement was about to become. While John and the other Centurions do spend a good deal of time reading over the course of the year, that learning only lays the groundwork for a full-fledged engagement of bringing a biblical worldview to bear in their own communities. In fact, as part of the course, every Centurion puts together a three-year action plan for how he or she will use what he or she has learned.
But before John could complete his action plan, opportunity knocked at the door. A Vermont state senator contacted Prison Fellowship after reading How Now Shall We Live?, the book I wrote with Nancy Pearcey. The senator loved the book and was intrigued by the idea of teaching this material to political, civic, business, and church leaders in his area. But with the senator’s busy schedule, he would need a little help. So he contacted us, and we had just the man for the job, John Nunnikhoven. The class materialized quickly. John organized it to be eight, two-hour sessions, meeting every Saturday for three months.
Soon after, another opportunity came knocking. Prison Fellowship was organizing an in-prison evangelistic crusade in Vermont through Operation Starting Line. Though John and his wife had never engaged in prison ministry before, they agreed to help. One taste of transformed lives, and John was hooked.
That experience led the Nunnikhovens to work with another couple to plant a church behind bars in a local correctional facility, to plant another church for released inmates in their own living room, and ultimately to open their home as transitional housing for three ex-prisoners.
Talk about worldview in action! John Nunnikhoven found retirement to be the most active time of his life. And oddly enough, though he has acquired a lot more books since he became a Centurion, he now has less time to read them.
Nunnikhoven is changing Vermont, but he is actually part of a continuing legacy of a man to whom all serious believers are indebted. Be sure to listen to or read “BreakPoint” all next week, when Mark Earley and I will tell you about a man whose Christian worldview literally changed the course of Western history: William Wilberforce, for whom our Forum is named.
|Today’s BreakPoint Offer|
|For Further Reading and Information|
BreakPoint Commentary No. 070215, “Amazing Grace behind Bars: Why Your Next Pastor May Be an Ex-Prisoner.”
BreakPoint Commentary No. 061120, “Engaging a Needy World: The Centurions.”
Learn more about the Wilberforce Forum’s Centurions Program.
Kevin Belmonte, Hero for Humanity: A Biography of William Wilberforce (NavPress, 2002). An updated version is now available.
Watch a clip of the upcoming film Amazing Grace at the Wilberforce Forum website.
Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live? (Tyndale, 1999).