Keith Green Commands a New Generation to Go into Missions
Editors Note: In the last year of his life through the influence of Youth With A Mission's John Dawson, Keith became a World Christian and began mobilizing his reading and listening audience of over half a million young people to give their lives to missionary service. Keith discovered the U.S. Center for World Mission as a resource and began using USCWM statistics in his Last Days Ministries magazine. Keith began promoting the book "Priority One" by USCWM member Norm Lewis. Keith was in the process of linking up with Perspectives on the World Christian Movement coauthor Steve Hawthorne. Steve was even invited to ride on the airplane where Green met his death, but didn't because there weren't enough seats on the plane. Now Green's music is influencing a new generation.
Keith Green was the most popular male artist in the field of contemporary Christian music from 1977 until his death in 1982. His music and lyrics pierced the hearts of a whole generation of "Baby Boomer" Christians. Green's music and writings, through his Last Days Ministries, motivated thousands of Christian youth to commit their lives to world evangelization.
"Keith's music is a lasting legacy, and a whole new generation is plugging into it and getting a vision to reach the world for Christ," said Melody Green Sievright, Green's widow. This generation is being challenged to live radically committed lives for Jesus.
Sparrow Records recently released four collections of Keith's music with the themes of: Worship, Evangelism, Testimony and Devotion. The albums not only contain Green's best songs in each of these areas, but also include portions of messages Green gave at his concerts covering each subject. The goal is to introduce a new generation of Christians to Green's music and ministry and motivate them to radically commit their lives to Christ and missions.
The ultimate thrust of Keith's ministry was to encourage people to go to spread the Gospel to unreached peoples who had never heard it before. The last message he left before his death in 1982 was the pamphlet "Why You Should Go To The Mission Field," and his last well-known song was, "Jesus Commands Us To Go."
Green's death had a profound impact on a number of ministries, and his widow credits God for answering his prayer to mobilize youth into missions.
A series of Keith Green memorial concerts featuring a concert video of Keith challenged more than 300,000 young people to enter the mission field. "For several years almost 75 percent of people attending Youth With A Mission's (YWAM) Discipleship Training Schools heard of them because of a Keith Green Memorial Concert," said Melody Green Sievright.
Sharon Cox says she knew what she had to do after hearing the song "Jesus Commands Us To Go," at a Memorial concert.
"I met a doctor and a nurse serving aboard the YWAM ship Anastasis. I was a nursing student and I signed up that night." Cox has since given over ten years of her life to YWAM and Mercy Ships. She met and married her husband Wade aboard the ship.
On "Here I Am Send Me: Songs of Evangelism," Keith gives a stirring message on being called for missionary service. "My wife and I just came back from a trip overseas visiting missionary bases," Green says. "It opened our eyes to a couple of facts. One of them was God is not an American. God's world belongs to Him and he loves everybody the same. That's an amazing thing to realize. He loves an old drunk in the streets of Calcutta right now. He loves you and every other person whether they are known or forgotten. His heart goes out to the masses. For it says in the Bible (The Word Of God) "It is not God's will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." I run into people and I say. 'What are you doing for the Lord?' They say, 'I'm a banker for Christ or I'm a lawyer or a student or a biker for Jesus.' As I traveled around and saw whole nations of people where there were only 50 or 100 believers in the whole country, what I saw was it's either God's will for it to be this way (and we know that's not true) or it's somebody else's fault."
"There's a little command in the Bible and that little command says, 'Go ye into all the nations and preach the Gospel unto every creature and make disciples of men.' We like to think that was just for disciples, but it wasn't. The world isn't being won today because we're not doing it. It's our fault because this generation of believers is responsible for this generation of souls on the earth. Nowhere in the world is the Gospel so plentiful as it is in the United States. I don't want to see us stand before God on that Judgement Day and say, 'But, God, I didn't hear you call me. You don't need to hear a call, you are already called. In fact, if you stay home and don't go into all nations, you better be able to say to God, 'You called me to stay home; God I know that as a fact.'"
The point that he stresses is the need for laborers in the evangelistic harvest fields of unreached peoples and the need for churches to get back to their historical roots and purpose. This is clear on another one of his four collections of songs, "Make My Life A Prayer to You": Songs of Devotion. Keith quotes John Wesley and the Twelve Rules of the Methodist Church. "I was struck by the fact that they looked upon soul-winning as their only task. You have nothing to do but save souls, therefore spend and be spent in this work. It is not your business to preach so many times, but to save as many souls as you can, to bring as many sinners to repentance and with all your power to build them up in that holiness, without which they cannot see the Lord."
Along with these stirring messages, Keith's music sounds just as fresh and important today as when it was originally recorded. Bill Baumgart of Sparrow Records who helped put together this four album set went through 150 hours of Keith Green recordings to try to pick the best material possible. These tapes were then remastered using the latest recording technology to make them sound as if they were recently recorded. The collection includes such favorite songs as "There Is A Redeemer," "Until Your Love Broke Through," "Oh, Lord, You're Beautiful," "Asleep In The Light," and "The Prodigal Son Suite."
This music series is now available in most Christian bookstores.
Dave Geisler is a free-lance writer who regularly volunteers his time with the Global Prayer Digest. His articles have appeared in magazines such as Charisma and Focus on the Family.