Bill Hybels began the closing session of the 2012 Global Leadership Summit by saying that leaders need an "annual recalibration, a vision infusion, a gut check". (I love that Bill says things like "gut check") For me, the gut check at this GLS was a moment of profound gratitude. Bill went on to share his story of growing up in a lifeless, loveless, powerless church, but as a college student being seized by the vision of what the church was intended to be. I'm so glad he was seized by that vision. With tears in my eyes, I was reminded of what God had done in my life a little over 20 years ago at Willow Creek.Early in 1991, I moved from East Lansing, Michigan to Schaumburg, Illinois looking for a fresh start. At 31, I was a fairly successful young engineer, but had struggled for years with drug use, and even though I was a professing Christian, my heart was far from God. I started attending Willow Creek hoping to find my way back to God. What happened over the next year was nothing short of a miracle.
I came back to God, I met fired-up Christians, I fell in love with Jesus again, and I soaked up great Bible teaching. As I worked through serious sin issues and bondage, God was faithful and used my new friends at Willow to pray for me and challenge me. And if that wasn't enough, God introduced me to my future wife there. Earlier that same year, Connie had come to Christ and was baptized at Willow. By God's grace we fell in love and one year later we were married.
This is the vision that Bill was seized by - broken people transformed by the love of Christ and a healing community. My life has been permanently altered because of that vision. Willow was not perfect then, nor is it now. But God is perfect, and through the hands of faithful, trustworthy, and devoted servants the church of Jesus Christ can be the life-giving, power-filled place it's supposed to be.
I thank God that Bill had the courage to chase that vision back then, and that he challenged leaders to do the same today. As I prayed along with 1000's of others to pledge my love, my heart, my talents, my energy, I was moved to the core and reminded once again that Jesus Christ is building His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!
David Soper and his wife, Connie, live in McAllen with their three precocious canines, Sonny, Oscar and Happy. He works as a Sales Executive for a major IT company and often travels around the globe for business. They both have a passion for discipleship and ministry, and are active members of Palm Valley Church. David is a graduate of Michigan Tech (engineering) and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (theology) and serves on the boards of Palm Valley Church and the World Radio Network, which has 14 Christian radio stations along the US-Mexico border from Brownsville to Yuma, Arizona.