Operation Philip

August 11, 2014
John 1:43-46

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

For years the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association sent advance trainers into areas where crusades were to be held.  Leaders, counselors and those who would reach out to others to invite them to the upcoming crusade were recruited and trained.  One of the programs for those who would reach out was called “Operation Andrew.” The idea was based on John 1:40 through 42:

    One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew,
    Simon Peter’s brother.  He first found his own brother Simon, and said
    to him, “We have found the Messiah…,” And he brought him to Jesus.

Six weeks before the crusade took place, Operation Andrew brochures were passed out to interested Christians.  They would fill in the names of seven people on the back of the accompanying cards – family, friends, neighbors, work place associates – those whom God laid on their hearts to invite to the crusade, and to Christ.  They were instructed to do this in five steps:

•    Look Around – where you live, work, or go to school—this is your mission field.  Make a list of names of individuals you know who need Jesus Christ, and commit to pray for the people on your list regularly.
•    Look Up – because God changes people through prayer.  Pray each day for those on your list, that God will give you opportunities to share His love with them.
•    Look Out –  for ways to cultivate friendships with each person on your list.  Spend time with them.  An invitation to dinner or a sporting event will build friendships, which can open the way to talk about Christ.  Remember:  don’t preach. Listen and be a good friend.
•    Look Forward – and begin to talk with each person on your list about watching a television program or a Billy Graham TV Special, going to the Billy Graham Library, reading a book, going to church, or attending an event such as a Crusade or Festival with you. Choose a specific date, pray, and invite them.
•    Look After – those who respond to Christ or even begin to show interest in the Gospel, for they need your encouragement.  Continue to love and pray for those who do not respond.

Operation Andrew was introduced in March, 1955 during the “All-Scotland” crusade “…named from the incident in the gospels when Andrew brought Simon Peter to Jesus….The idea…was to go out after the uncommitted, the unchurched and bring them in….” (The Billy Graham Story, Rev. Dr. John Charles Pollock).  It has been used effectively in crusades ever since.  A form of it is still being used by Rev. Franklin Graham, Billy’s son, who next month is bringing to the Pittsburgh Consol Energy Center the “Three Rivers Festival of Hope,” August 15 though 17.

Twenty years ago, when I was pastor of Olive Branch Baptist Church in Belle Vernon, PA, the Belle Vernon Ministerium for several years sponsored the fall Harvestfest Crusade.  I was inspired to design a plan similar to Operation Andrew called Operation Philip, from John 1:43 through 46:

    The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip,
    and said to him, “Follow Me.”  Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city
    of Andrew and Peter.  Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, “We have
    found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote —
    Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  And Nathanael said to him, “Can
    anything good come out of Nazareth?”  Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

The appeal of this Operation Philip plan is its utter simplicity.  Philip was not the brightest lightbulb in the pack!  In John 14:6 through 9, and interaction between Jesus and Philip shows this:

    Jesus said…“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father
    except through Me.  If you had known Me, you would have known My Father
    also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”  Philip said to Him,
    “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”  Jesus said to him, “Have
    I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?  He who has
    seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’”

That Jesus was, as Paul said in Colossians 2:9, “…the fulness of the Godhead bodily…” should have been apparent to all the disciples!  But it went right over Philip’s head!

Nathanael, on the other hand, was a deep thinker!  From what Jesus said in John 1:51:  “…you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man…” – Nathanael, as he sat under the fig tree,  was apparently contemplating the mysterious passage concerning Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28:10 through 17.  Did Philip try to engage Nathanael in a theological debate about the Messiah, “…Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph…”? (John 1:45).  No, he didn’t – not even when Nathanael seemed to be bating him by saying, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).  All Philip said was, “Come and see.” (John 1:46).

Come and see.”  That doesn’t take a lot of Bible knowledge or theological training, does it?  Just tell a family member, friend, neighbor, or work place associate,Come and see.”  “Come and see what God is doing in our church” – or Bible study or Franklin Graham crusade – wherever they will hear a clear presentation of the gospel, that Jesus died for their sins and lives again!

This is Operation Philip!  Put it to use!

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