Promise Keepers And The Third Wall -- By: Austin H. Stouffer
PP 11:2 (Spring 1997) p. 9
Promise Keepers And The Third Wall
Dr. Austin H. Stouffer pastors Grace Evangelical Free Church in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, and maintains a half-time counseling practice as a Marriage, Family and Individual Therapist.
Atlanta changed my life! There, I’ve said it, OK? To be a part of the world’s largest-ever collection of clergy (42,000) in one building at one time; to hear the thunderous, ear-splitting applause, the four-part harmony, and that eerie, haunting, inspiring chant of “Je-e-e-s-u-s” as this hand-holding, mid-sized city of men affirmed their common faith— what can one say? It will never be forgotten. The highlight for me had to be somewhere around the time of Steve Green’s emotional presentation of “Let the Walls Come Down,” leaving thousands of male pastors of every race and denomination tearfully hugging while offering and receiving apologies for centuries of injustice and blindness to each other’s plight. Hats off to Coach Bill McCartney and the team for bringing vision to fruition as they launched the much-needed Promise Keepers’ theme for 1996, “Break Down the Walls.”
I’ll even add a second admission: Atlanta was good for our home city. Oh, not the whole city, perhaps. But one can never underestimate the impact of this convention on the seven clergy from four denominations in our Canadian town who flew down together and were warmly billeted in caring Atlanta homes. Unforgettable! Of course, residents of this ice-bound Northern Ontario city of Thunder Bay would see any visit to the South as unforgettable. Still, I commend the organizers of this history-breaking convention for impacting men, like nothing in this century has been able to do.
Right about now, my mind is searching for softer, more compassionate words that the blunt and abrupt “but” or “however.” Would “on the other hand” be less offensive? You see, I’m procrastinating again. I just don’t want to say what my conscience says needs to be said. It’s so much easier to preach it to others; to remind them to “speak the truth in love.” Scripture is replete with references to transparent truthfulness and not letting the sun go down with unresolved conflict. Well, the sun has gone down for too many nights, and I’ve avoided the hard realities for long enough. Come to think of it, my procrastination even seems to be dominating this article—as long as I keep talking, I won’t have to say anything…
Enough! Enough rationalizing, enough seeking advice from others, enough praying and searching Scripture. It’s time I took floppy disk in hand and shared with you some genuine concerns that I have about this potentially phenomenal movement—concerns which, if addressed, would only im...
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