Tony Wetmore came to Christian Leaders Institute with a vision. He wanted to start a revival in California, his home state. He saw that there is a great need for Jesus right here in the U.S., and he had a calling to do something about it. Here are is the ministry vision he had when he came to CLI, in his own words:
My ministry dreams are to become a non profit 501(c)3, and create a ministry, Church, and program that serves all of “the least of these.” Matthew 25:31-40. To tell people, lost people, hurting people, abused people, young people about the love and saving grace that can only come through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To help make the change from bread and water of this world, to the bread of life, and living water of Jesus Christ!
A scholarship with CLI will give me the much needed ability and knowledge to minister and pastor better, more completely, and more intelligently, to this hurting world.
Because Tony has a vision for revival in the U.S., one of the courses he elected to take was the class Missions and Revivals. In his final paper on this class, Tony provides a compelling reflection on revivals of the past and how they relate to the revival he hopes to see in the near future. In addition to that, he talks about realizing his dream of forming a non-profit organization to spark revival in California and the entire United States. You can read his paper below.
Tony’s Vision to Spark Revival in California
There is a lot to say about missions and revival today. Outside the United States, revival is happening in third world countries, such as China, Korea, South America, and Africa. And not only revival, but many miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit are acting out in these countries.
1 Corinthians 12 talks about some of these gifts, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them, and in everyone, is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophesy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11
Yet here in the United States, I have to ask the question, are we are becoming a Post Christian Nation like much of Europe? Will my church one day be turned into a museum, and tours of people will come through to see how the 21st century Christians in my town used to Worship the Lord? Will there be dusty sheet music on rusty music stands with Chris Tomlin, and Michael Tait music on it, with songs like “God’s Not Dead, He’s Truly Alive” yellowing & decaying?
I pray that there will be a Great Awakening in the early 21st century to rival the awakenings and enlightenment of the past. But what will that look like today? How will it come about? Who or what will be the catalyst?
In going through this course, I see the ebb and flow of revival around the world. As Reverend Billy Graham once said, “The Christian life is not a constant high. I have moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, “Oh God forgive me”, or “help me.” And then I think about Luther, Huss, Wesley, and so many whose lives were changed, and then torn apart for Christianity. But as in all things, struggle is what makes us stronger, develops our character, and makes us seek Him. This is not limited to people, but nations, continents, and the world.
Looking back on all the revivals covered in this course, it always started with one thing, prayer. It always starts small, and looks like it’s going to fail, and then is goes far beyond what we could ever think or imagine. God comes down to us!
Three of the greatest evangelists in my mind have to be Dwight Moody, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham.
Moody, like me, did not have much of an education, never got his BA or MBA in Divinity, and still created schools and Institutes that are big and successful to this day. He was also influential with and through the YMCA. This touches my heart because growing up I had no father, and I spent my summers in a YMCA camp in the mountains of Southern California. It is here that for the first time I learned about the love of Jesus Christ through stories and music, understood sin, forgiveness, and came to Jesus for the very first time. I later became a Counselor in Training, and Counselor at the same YMCA, picked up the guitar for the first time, said my first group prayer, and was able to lead other young boys and men to Jesus Christ. All this about 150 years after Moody took off with the Holy Spirit and revival through the YMCA. Proof again that God can and does use anyone, regardless of education or status to take His Word to the people and masses.
This is the same man who motivates me every time we go out to do our homeless outreach in the city of Sam Bernardino, and our Prison Ministry in the mountains above Silverwood Lake, California, with this quote, “When a man gets up so high (spiritual mountain) that he cannot reach down and save poor sinners, there is something wrong.” I love living on the mountain top, but we must go down to the valleys to do His work!
Both “Billy’s” played baseball. You can’t go wrong with that! Sunday was born into poverty, grew up an orphan, spent 8 years in Major League Baseball, and converted to evangelical Christianity. Both a hero and a saint! He really gave up everything for the faith, and still he lived, and Christ lived in him. While Moody took us to the top after the Civil War, Sunday brought us back to the top prepping us for the First World War which was to come.
And then there’s Billy Graham, the greatest modern day evangelist of our current time. When I was a young boy in the 1960’s, I went to see him with my Mom and a friend’s family in Los Angeles. I had never seen anything like it, so many people, so many tears, so many conversions, yelling, screaming, music, and a wave of the Holy Spirit that I could not really understand at the time. I did though, know this was something BIG! Though he was not the catalyst of a great awakening or revival, he has influenced many generations of people here in the United States, and abroad. He does so to this day!
In my life, I have been blessed to see small revivals and awakenings here in this country. Billy Graham in the 50’s and 60’s, the Calvary Chapel and music revival of the 70’s, the modern Christian music revival of the late 80’s and 90’s, and something that happened kindred to a revival after a great tragedy in the US on September 11, 2001. 911 brought great tragedy, but also brought us closer together as a nation and closer to God than I can remember in my lifetime. God was lifted up, and people drew to Him as the light on a hill. We were united as a Nation, and all in the presence of Him, many seeking for the very first time, many coming back to Him after many years. Almost the entire nation grew closer to each other, and to Him. Everyone gave what they had to survivor’s families, crowded to memorials and churches, and stepped out in faith like never before, or since. No matter our race, color, religion, social status, economic status, or where we lived – we were Americans, and we were Christians! It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. And I pray it doesn’t take another tragedy to revive this country, or any country or nation.
As for missions, Jesus Christ never traveled more than 100 miles from where he was born. Yet look at what happened to His ministry! You had me look at missionary after missionary, and it is unbelievable to see the many hardships, injuries, sacrifice, and deaths in the mission field. And thousands still come today. From Hudson-Taylor to Wurmbrand, many still seek the mission field regardless of the hardships.
I have purchased many of the “Persecuted for Christ” books from V.O.M (Voice of the Martyrs). In this country, it’s hard to believe that persecution still goes on to this day in this modern world. And that anyone would want to risk life to promote Jesus Christ. We read about it, understand it, but personal risk to ourselves? Most would say no way! We are spoiled here in the United States, and our right to religion is protected under our constitution. But our current political powers are breaking down our constitutional rights, and challenging our religious freedoms. I believe that one day we will have to fight to keep our religious freedom. Then we, like many other nations, will truly understand.
Since starting my classes at CLI, I have been able to establish my non-profit 501 c3 called Domestic Missionaries, Inc. I am the Executive Director, and my wife is Assistant Director. Under Domestic Missionaries, we are able to minister to the homeless, needy, and low income on the streets of San Bernardino. We set up Church on the street, and play Worship music, do scripture readings, take prayer requests, pray for, and over people, give them a relevant message of hope, and distribute $5 food cards, hygiene kits, emergency kits, clothes, jackets, shoes & socks, blankets, and Gideon Bibles. We pour over them the love of Christ, which is the only lasting food, water, and nourishment we have (HE HAS) to offer. And at Pilot Rock Prison Ministry, we do the same, Worship, Word, Prayer, Fellowship, Message, and give them bibles, devotionals, and snacks. CLI is giving me the knowledge, and a deeper understanding of what it means to be not only a follower of Christ in a modern day world, it is teaching me to become a true Pastor to many people in need.
I will continue to take classes at CLI, and then take the teaching to the streets. I am close to my “Christian Leaders Certificate,” and won’t stop there. My wife and I are also seeking credentialing and ordination through the Brethren in Christ/Church of the Brethren denomination, and my learning here at CLI will greatly help in this process. It is my dream to take the church to the streets and prisons across America like never before, and to be ordained and continue my studies through CLI.
It is also my wish and prayer that thousands and thousands of people around the world discover CLI and catch the vision of Revival today! Can you imagine? And that’s the thing, God already has! The one common theme in revival; prayer. It starts with prayer. Then listening like Isaiah for that still small voice…
Thank you for the knowledge, and blessing, to be a continuing student at CLI, where prayers are truly answered!