Dear EAPE Partner,
Most months you get a letter from my father telling you about one or another of the wonderful ministries EAPE is developing and supporting around the world. The idea, of course, is to make sure you know all the good Kingdom work your support makes possible. But there is one outreach of EAPE, one of our most significant in fact, which my father hardly ever mentions: His own speaking ministry. So then, this month I am hijacking his letter to let you know how your support has helped make Tony Campolo such an effective messenger of the Gospel over the years, and to ask you to keep standing behind him.
Of course, virtually all of you have experienced firsthand the magic that happens when my father gets into the pulpit or onto the stage. In fact, most of you became part of EAPE in the first place as a direct result of being moved by a Tony Campolo message. All my life people have asked me about him, and all my life I have struggled to put into words exactly what it is that makes him such an extraordinary communicator. He’s funny, of course, but he’s not just funny. He tells great stories, but again, there’s more to it than that. He’s passionate, and provocative, and intelligent, and down to earth, and a whole lot of other good things too, but all of those adjectives together don’t really capture the way he connects with his audience, or the way he uses that connection to move people to do great things for God and one another.
I always knew my father’s ministry—not to mention the man himself—was something special, but it wasn’t until I stepped in to manage EAPE a few years ago that I began to fully appreciate the incredible impact of his many thousands of speaking engagements. For starters, of course, there are scores of great organizations like Beyond Borders, Cornerstone Christian Academy, Mission Year, Urban Promise, REACH, Oasis Zimbabwe which Tony Campolo literally spoke—and recruited and fundraised—into existence, and scores more that he inspired others to start all over the world. Honestly, I wish I had a dollar for every time I delved into the origins of some amazing ministry, only to discover the old man’s message had something to do with getting it off the ground or taking it to the next level.
More often than that, though, I meet the people Tony Campolo recruited to join one of those ministries—in some inner-city school, or some rural homeless shelter, or some Third World orphanage, or economic development scheme, or new monastic community, or seeker-sensitive suburban church, or other crazy project—whose lives have been forever changed as a result. “Tell your father that what he said made all the difference,” they tell me, and I know it’s true. I also know that most of those people have gone on to make even greater differences in the lives of many who will never know—or need to know—the name of Tony Campolo.
And then there are all those people whose minds got changed by a Tony Campolo message, in ways that made them better, and happier, and more kind. And all the others who joyfully came forward, or quietly raised their hands, or silently prayed in their hearts, to embrace Jesus as their Savior for the first time. I hear plenty of those stories too. Never too many, mind you, but plenty all the same.
None of this is news to most of you. What may be news, however, is that your support, both in giving to EAPE and in constantly affirming and encouraging my father as a servant of God, is what has kept him going all these years. Without it, there would be no EAPE office to sift through all the invitations, make all the travel arrangements, answer all the correspondence and phone calls, and manage all the ministry involvements. Without it, there would be no seed money to help make all those beautiful visions into even more beautiful realities. But most importantly, without it—without you—Tony Campolo would have given up a long time ago.
Your notes in the mail, your hugs on the road, your solidarity in the causes that matter, your faithful prayers, your loyal friendship when things have gotten rough…I have seen with my own eyes the way those things have given my Dad the energy, confidence, and security he needs to do what he alone can do. He may not look like he depends on anyone, but the truth is that he depends on you and me and the rest of our EAPE family, just as we depend on him.
Am I proud of Tony Campolo, and proud to be part of the team that maximizes his unique gifts for sake of Jesus and for the good of poor and oppressed people all over the world? You bet I am! I hope you feel proud too. Together, all of us are doing wonderful things—and preaching a wonderful Gospel—in places none of us could reach alone.
ABOUT TONY + FEBRUARY 2009