The Mystic Baptist
I said, "What I'd like to do is this: I'd like to tell you everything I know about myself, and between the four of you and God, I will do whatever you will tell me to do." So we talked from about two o'clock till dinner, and then after dinner. I woke up in the middle of the night many times and wrote 17 longhand legal-sized sheets of things that I wanted to remember to tell them that had not crossed my mind the previous afternoon.
Next morning we talked on until about ten o'clock. Finally I said, "That's everything I know about me. I don't think I held out anything."
One of the men said, "Charles, put your head on the table and close your eyes." So I did. "Your father just picked you up in his arms and held you. What do you feel?" And I burst out crying, and I cried and cried and cried and cried. Then he asked me again, and I just kept crying.
Finally when I settled down I said, "I feel warm, loved, and accepted." For the first time in my life, I acknowledged and recognized that God really loved me, that I could have a personal relationship with him that went beyond salvation. It changed my life. It changed my ministry. It changed my perspective about everything, and it made me realize how very, very, very important a person's relationship to their father is.
Paul says marriage is a sign or symbol of the relationship of Christ and his church. One has to think that one's marriage could have a profound effect on one's prayer life. Could you talk a little bit about that?
Before my wife and I got married, I made sure that we got down at night wherever we were and prayed and asked God to bless our relationship and to guide us and to keep us pure and holy before him. After we were married, we knelt by the bed every single night that I was at home and prayed, because I believe it's like glue that keeps people together.
I would never have imagined that anything could have happened to my marriage. Ultimately, my wife walked away from the marriage. I don't blame her. I don't have any bad feelings. That's the kind of relationship she came out of—her dad, whom she revered, was married four times.
I would say prayer is absolutely essential, but there are emotional issues that happen in people's lives that they don't ask for. Sometimes they can deal with [them]; sometimes they have great difficulty. She was an excellent Bible teacher. She started our singles' group with three ladies and ended up with about 400 students. But sometimes things happen you don't understand. You can't figure it out. You just have to accept it and move on.
How has prayer worked itself out in your pastoral ministry?
I started out reminding the Lord how inadequate I felt and how inexperienced I was at first. And if I had to make a decision, I'd just say, "God, I'm going to do what you say, whatever that is. I don't feel very adequate at this." I've watched him move me from church to church. The wonderful thing about God is he knows what we need to persuade us.
But now you are the successful pastor of a megachurch. Has it been a temptation to put prayer aside and to get on with the business of the church?
Not really, because I think I felt so inadequate. My feelings of inadequacy have turned out to be a blessing. I thought, God, I don't know how to do all this. And you have to give me the right people. And then In Touch came along, which I never planned. I have the greatest staff at In Touch anybody could have in any ministry. And I can just see how God, in light of my lack of abilities and skills, has surrounded me with very godly people who know how to do excellently what I would not know how to do.