Wallace is one of the pastors on our staff here at the West Campus. He is a man I respect very much and a man of great knowledge. Here is an e-mail he sent out the other day:
One day in 1972 I was at my desk at the White House, when my boss, Harry Dent, Special Counsel to the President, walked into the room with a strange assignment. “The President is going to China,” he told me, “and you are to mobilize a national prayer network to pray for the success of the trip.”
It was a shocker to learn that Nixon, a resolute anti-communist, was going to one of the world’s most rabidly Marxist societies and meet with Mao Tse Tung himself. In fact, for months afterward we would be handling angry phone calls and letters accusing Nixon of selling out to the communists. But the President knew what he was doing. His aim was to deepen the rift between the world’s two great Marxist powers, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Nixon also wanted Chinese help in ending the Vietnam War. The President hoped especially that the Chinese would help us get back our POWs. Some, like John McCain and Jeremiah Denton had sat in those dank prisons five to seven years.
Success for the mission was vital. Only God could bring it about.
When Dent left my office, I asked myself a stark question: How do you mobilize a nation to pray in a matter of days? I decided to get the request for prayer out quickly. There are two advantages to having a White House operator place a call for you: (1) They have the phone numbers of everybody, including the most reclusive celebrities; (2) when a person hears the words, “The White House is calling, would you hold the line, please?” the celebrities will answer, even for the lowliest White House aide (which I was).
Immediately I thought of two strong Christians who were notable in that era—Tom Landry, coach for the Dallas Cowboys, and Pat Boone, singer and movie star. Within an hour, I had spoken with both. One of them, I don’t recall which, was appearing on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” that week, and promised to carry the appeal to the nation on that widely watched program. I also called prominent pastors and leaders like Billy Graham and Bill Bright. Quickly the vision of prayer spread.
I was standing on the White House lawn when President Nixon boarded his helicopter to fly to Andrews Air Force Base where Air Force One waited to wing him to China. As I watched the President return the salute of the elite Marine guard at the helicopter steps, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen in his meetings with Chinese leaders. The next week the whole world watched via live television as the President walked through the diplomatic niceties and rituals. A vast nation closed to the world since 1949 was cracking the door, allowing us all to have a peak inside.
Many things did happen as a result of the President’s China strategy. The Vietnam War ended, POWs came home, the threat of a monolithic communist enemy armed to the teeth diminished, and China joined the community of nations. Today, it is progressing as a commercial giant. Freedoms unimaginable a generation ago are sprouting like tender young plants.
And Wednesday night when I walked into the room in Williams House on our church’s West Campus where the first wave of the almost 300 Chinese students and teachers who will be based at our church for three weeks of teaching and learning, I was overwhelmed, and had to choke back tears.
The reason: I knew their visit was part of the answer of the prayers made 36 years ago for the opening of China. Hudson Taylor, who sowed the seeds of the Gospel in China in the 19th century, is dead. So are Bill Wallace and Watchman Nee and hosts of valiant, unheralded disciples of Jesus Christ who gave their blood that the Chinese might know Christ. Bill Bright is gone from us, as is Tom Landry. But their prayers have been answered by God in ways none of us could have imagined 36 years ago.
Never, never, never discount prayer. It sets in motion divine dynamics that might not reach their culmination until you are in Heaven with Jesus. But whatever we ask in His name, according to His will, and with complete faith in Him, will happen, even if it takes a generation or longer. Just look at those Chinese kids.