How do we capture on paper the vast array of marvels the Lord has done through Tony Campolo across the years? How can we get our minds around all the goodness that has happened in and through the millions of people who have heard Tony speak or read something he wrote and been inspired to act? How can we measure all the ways local communities have been changed by the many thousands of people empowered by a ministry Tony has started? And what of the spiritual force beyond measure that has been unleashed in the world by the thousands of saints who led or taught in one of those ministries?

Tony Campolo St Barnabas Health System

Last year, Tony received St. Barnabas Health System’s prestigious Hance Award, which is presented annually “to a national figure that has had a significant impact on the lives of Americans.” Previous recipients of the Hance Award include former President Gerald R. Ford, Fred Rogers and Rev. Robert Schuller, among others.

Before I lapse into images of counting the grains of sand on all the world’s beaches or dropping overused words like “awesome,” let’s just admit it: we cannot get into our heads all the good that has happened on his planet because the Lord touched the heart of Tony Campolo and called him into Godly service. You see, this month we will celebrate Tony’s birthday and the folks in the office thought it would be a great idea to present some of Tony’s ministry in an article to share with you. Thanks a lot, office staff. You have sent me out to do the impossible.

When the office staff gave me my “Mission Impossible,” I wrote a draft in which I said, tongue in cheek, that while I thought it inappropriate to state his age, you could figure it out by taking the age Jack Benny used to claim for himself and doubling it. But when I showed that draft to the office staff, none of them had ever heard of Jack Benny and had no idea what I was talking about. They are too young. They suggested that I advise readers to “Google” Jack Benny to find out. Or I could just tell you he claimed to be forever 39. Jack Benny was a great influence on Johnny Carson. I was afraid to ask if they remembered Johnny Carson. Anyway, Tony’s influence has spanned more generations than I want to think about.

Perhaps a few experiences I have had will offer brief glimpses into Tony’s legacy. In recent months I have attended two annual conferences conducted under the umbrella of Tony’s work. At the first we offer management and fiscal training for our many ministries around the world. We want to give them every chance to survive and thrive and we believe sound organizational and management principles are a must. One evening I looked around the room and realized that people had come from every continent to be present. More recently I was at a conference we sponsor for cutting edge leaders who are communicating the message of Jesus Christ to the 21st Century world. Looking around the room I was in awe. Here are the people, mostly young, whom God has called to be the vanguard of world evangelism and social ministries for future generations. Wow!

Thanks to your generous, prayerful support, Tony’s ministry has borne fruit in so many marvelous ways…beyond what our mind can grasp. Perhaps this would be a good month to send an extra Happy Birthday to Tony by making an extra gift in his name to support his ministry through EAPE.