Walker Moore and I served together as chaplains of the Tulsa Police Department in the late 1980's. At the time Walker was on staff at First Baptist Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1992 I moved to Enid, Oklahoma to become pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, and Walker prepared to resign from FBC Tulsa to begin a ministry to teenagers and their parents called Awe Star Ministries. Awe Star Ministries was designed to help 14,15,16, and 17 year old kids go through a rite of passage into adulthood - through missions. Over the past fifteen years Awe Star Ministries has placed thousands of young people in 39 countries of the world to share the gospel, plant churches and make the tranistion to adulthood.
Walker is currently the number one missions speaker on the Southern Baptist missions tour, particularly Global Impact weekends (GIC's) which are held at Southern Baptist churches around the nation. One of the reasons Walker speaks during the main services at churches like Prestonwood, Second Houston, FBC Dallas, etc . . . is because of the stories he tells of kids transformed through their involvement with missions through Awe Star. Our youngest son, Logan, turns fifteen tomorrow, and we are giving to him as a birthday gift the story of an Awe Star fifteen year old who gave his life for Christ on the mission field - in 2005.
BJ Higgins went with Awe Star ministries to minister to the people of Peru in the summer of 2005. During that summer over 5,000 Peruvians gave their lives to Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Awe Star team that included BJ Higgins. While ministering the gospel of Christ, fulfilling his rite of passage from childhood to adulthood, BJ caught the bubonic plague. Awe Star missionaries are taught that nothing is out of the control of a sovereign God, so when things happen beyond our control, prayer is the answer. When Awe Star staff and BJ's own father asked BJ whether or not he was praying for God to heal him, BJ responded that his prayer is that his life be used by God for the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and if that means he lives, he is asking for healing. But, if the gospel is furthered through his death, he is asking God to take him home.
BJ died in late summer of August 2005 of bubonic plague.
The story of BJ's life, written by his parents Brent and Deanna Higgens, with excerpts from the journals of BJ, is called I Would Die for You. It is #1 on Amazon.com's bestseller list among teenagers. The story has impacted hundreds of people, including our soon to be fifteen year old son Logan - as well as his father. When Southern Baptists write petty, mean or un-Christian things about me or others I love, I think of BJ Higgins. When I am tempted to lose focus on what is really important, and catch myself getting caught up in the politics of a denomination, I think of BJ Higgins. BJ didn't talk about missions, he lived it. BJ wasn't concerned about his own legacy, he was captivated by Christ's legacy. BJ understood that a man is not really ready to live until he is fully prepared to die at any moment.
I want to thank Walker Moore and Brent Higgins for being an encouragement to me this past week at their Awe Star headquarters in Tulsa. I went to Tulsa for our Baptist Convention of Oklahoma, but I came away blessed by two men who fully comprehend what it means to change the world one life at a time. I close with the words of BJ, written in his journal before he died:
I will not be satisfied.
I will not let my passion be held in a bottle.
I will not let my light be hidden.
I will stand up.
I will let my voice be heard.
I will lead. I will serve. I will fight.
I will tell people about Christ.
I will unsheathe my sword.
It's time to raise a revolution.
God will give me the strength.
BJ Higgins, Marty, 1989-2005