I had the privilege of preaching at Manley Baptist Church this past Sunday. Manley was planted in Morristown a little more than 50 years ago. Dr. Richard Emmert has been their pastor for nearly 35 of those years. Manley Baptist is about to move into a new 1,500 seat worship center, and Dr. Emmert will also be retiring within the next few weeks. He has been a friend of mine for the past 21 years. He has been more than a friend; he has been a prayer warrior on my behalf. For nine years we pastored together in the same town—I at First Baptist and he at Manley. I knew that every Thursday morning I was on Dr. Emmert’s prayer list. Nothing has changed since I left Morristown for Sevierville in 2001, and we continue to be prayer partners.
In preparing for preaching at Manley last Sunday, I was perusing items from their website when I came across a biographical sketch on Dr. Emmert. There were several things that were pretty interesting, including a reminder of the fact that he once played professional baseball. But what grabbed my attention was the answer to the question about one of his greatest experiences with God. It was a powerful picture that we must be sacrificially committed to accomplishing the work of the church, and the work of The Great Commission. Here is the account of that great experience with God from Dr. Emmert…
“Several years ago, I was alone at home on a Thursday afternoon studying for a sermon. In conjunction with the sermon on Sunday morning I was planning to use a video clip from the movie, ‘Schindler’s List.’
The movie is about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand Polish Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. In order to keep his factory workers alive, he spends much of his fortune bribing Nazi officials. Later, he surprises his wife while she is in the village church during mass, and tells her that she will now be the only woman in his life, a concession he had refused to grant previously. She goes with him to the factory to assist him. He runs out of money just as the Wehrmacht surrenders, ending the war in Europe. He had saved some 1,100 Jews from death in the concentration camps.
As a Nazi Party member and a self-described ‘profiteer of slave labor,’ in 1945 Schindler must flee the advancing Red Army. Although the SS guards have been ordered to ‘liquidate’ the Jews of Brinnlitz, Schindler persuades them to return to their families as men and not as murderers. In the aftermath, he packs a car in the night and bids farewell to his workers. They give him a letter explaining he is not a criminal to them, together with a ring secretly made from a worker’s gold dental bridge and engraved with a Talmudic quotation, ‘Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.’
Schindler is touched but deeply ashamed, feeling he could have done more to save many more lives. He looks at his expensive car and says, ‘Ten more.’ He begins to weep and says again, ‘I could have gotten ten more. Why did I keep this car?’ He pulls a gold pendant from his lapel as he weeps and says, ‘Two more.’ He falls on the back of the car weeping as the large crowd of people is in awe of his compassion. Several people run to him, consoling him as he weeps bitterly. For me, it was the most moving scene in the entire movie.
I could not hold back the tears and the emotions inside of me as I thought how many people could come to know Christ as Lord if I took reaching them as seriously as Oskar Schindler took saving the Polish Jews. It was as if God, Himself, was there teaching me a life-changing message. I wept so loud it frightened me—I was embarrassed but quickly remembered I was alone. In that freedom of the moment, I wept with loud groaning that could be heard beyond the walls of the house. It seems I could not stop weeping. I stopped the movie and waited for my mind to absorb all that had happened. God met me that afternoon and I have seen my life and all entrusted to me so differently since then.”
Now more than ever before, it is a joy to be on this journey with you and great prayer warriors like Dr. Richard Emmert.