When I was a new Christian, as in I decided for myself to follow Jesus, one of my hobbies was to listen to sermons. I was 13/14 years old. Back in those days, when iPods had to be connected to computer’s with wires, I would go onto iTunes and download a series of talks from Mike Pilavachi, Louie Giglio or Francis Chan or any other such preacher. They would then accompany me on my 40min walk to school and then back again in the afternoon.
I could not get enough of hearing God’s word preached, how people made connections with Bible passages and real life stories. Listening to how leaders lived out their faith. What they admired and looked up to. How they kept going, how they met with God etc etc. It gripped me!
I remember sitting at the computer, with fifteen minutes before I had to leave for school waiting for my iPod to ‘synchronise’ the various talks I had downloaded as podcasts. It was a complicated business back then, and I used to joke with my brother, that it was never worth synchronising your iPod unless you had an hour to spare to do so.
Anyway, in 2009, a couple of years on at the same summer camp I’d previously given my life to this Christianity thing. I told Alex Gray that I’d been listening to all the talks I could find from him on his Church’s website.
He told me, his weren’t even that good, and if I wanted something great I should check out a guy called Rob Rufus. He is a South African missionary in Hong Kong and all his talks are online.
Now I had already developed a soft spot for people with different accents. (Another story!)
When I got home, the first thing I did was go to City Church International Message Archives and download the first talk in August 2009. ‘The glory of tested faith’. It wasn’t on iTunes at the time, so I remember I had to do some nifty downloading an mp3, converting it so it would read as a podcast on my iTunes and then synchronising it onto iPod.
What I heard was amazing stuff! Stories of miracles, a man who preached with such Bible literacy using the whole book. Who wasn’t deterred from preaching for almost 2 hours at a time. Who spoke with such passion about the goodness of God. Who met with God. But all of that paled in comparison to the message of grace and righteousness by faith! I heard that I was fully forgiven, loved and restored because of what Jesus had done. This really was good news!
Over the next few weeks I would anticipate the next talk in the series and listen to it over and over again that week.
Recently, I’ve gone back to CCIHK and found these old talks, still there! Still just as good. But it has been amazing to listen to them again and realise how foundational they were to the faith I have now. They really have been rooted into my relationship with God. And I would encourage you to listen to them. They are not for the faint hearted, and if you are even slightly cynical of the charismatic world – brace yourself. I can’t say I’d agree with everything (but I can’t say that about anyone!). What I can say though, is that God has used this series and this man to place His sovereign foundations into my walk with Him.
Two of the talks in the 6 part series are on YouTube, the first one though is actually part 4. The others are only found on their website in audio format.