For most five year olds, their biggest concerns probably include which latest toy they will ask for their birthday or Christmas, if they get to play at the park with their friends, or what television show they are going to watch on Saturday. However, imagine being five years old and having your widowed, alcoholic father drop your brother and three sisters off at your first foster home. For Morris Cerullo, it is how his story began. By the time he was 10, he had earned a reputation for toughness and defiance because of his drinking, smoking, cursing, fighting and stealing.
Because his mother had been an Orthodox Jew, the state of New Jersey moved him to a Jewish orphanage. While the orphanage trained him in Jewish laws and customs, a Christian nurse there secretly began to tell him about Jesus. Unable to trust any man or woman, he ended up trusting Christ. Disdainful of authority, he made Jesus Lord of His life. Then, at 15, he had a vision of souls burning in hell, and he committed his life to ministry.
As Cerullo gets ready to celebrate his 85th birthday and 70th year in ministry, a book is being released in his honor, “The Legend of Morris Cerullo: How God Used an Orphan to Change the World.” The book tells the improbable story of an angry, rebellious child from New Jersey who grew up to share the love of Christ with the people of almost 100 nations.
“But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16-17
George Barna, best known as a Christian pollster, had followed Cerullo’s ministry for years and spent a week with him as preparation for writing the book. As Cerullo looked back on all his years in ministry, he marveled at the way God transformed a lost boy who couldn’t stay out of trouble.
Ghost writer Barna shares in the introduction of the book.
“Despite all these earthly accomplishments, he is invariably quick to remind people, ‘This is not the work of a man, but this is the work of the Holy Spirit of the living God!’ It is not a false humility; it is a realistic assessment of his limited capabilities and an acknowledgement of the unlimited power of God flowing through him for kingdom purposes.”
Cerullo has led evangelistic crusades in dozens of countries, witnessed to presidents and trained millions of Christian leaders. Although his story is the stuff of legends, he gives credit where credit is due. He preached in local churches, and then attended Bible school in New York. At 20, he pastored his own church in New Hampshire, doing everything from preaching to landscaping. In the short time he was there, the church grew dramatically, but he soon felt God calling him to full-time evangelism.
He began to lead international crusades, regularly traveling 250,000 miles a year to spread God’s message of healing and salvation. He often went places other evangelists avoided – India, where the people worshipped millions of gods; South Africa, still in the throes of apartheid; and the former Soviet Union, where a KGB agent translated his messages into Russian.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Although his crusades drew huge crowds and God performed many miracles, Cerullo eventually felt God telling him to shift the focus of his ministry to training national leaders so even more people could be reached with the Gospel.
Are your past experiences an excuse or motivation? Each of us has experienced trials and conflicts. It is important to get counseling from a pastor and also a professional counselor in some cases. This will not only bring healing but perspective. Often when we haven’t taken time to heal properly, we blame God, blame others and become bitter. While Satan wants our past hurts to immobilize us from accomplishing God’s will, God wants to use our past hurts to help others. Pray and ask God to show you how He wants to use your story to help others experience freedom in Christ.
Tell the nations. You don’t have to travel abroad to share Christ globally. Consider making a video of your testimony and sharing it via social media. Your story has the potential to be seen not just by your friends and family but others as well. It can be shared and sent globally. Pray and ask God whom you can share your testimony with, each of us has neighbors, co-workers and classmates that need to know Christ. Many of them have friends and family that are abroad or some might even be just visiting the US for work or school themselves. God wants us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20) and we can start by sharing with those in our own backyard.
What type of legacy will you leave? Take time this week to think about the type of legacy that you want to leave. How do you want others to remember you? Our character and service are often benchmarks for our legacy. Often times, we think that we should wait until we have more time to do ministry. However, God wants us to serve others as we go about our daily lives. Each of us has been entrusted with time, talent and treasure. It is our responsibility to seek God to see how He wants us to use them to glorify Him and not ourselves.
For more information about the book, please visit https://mcwe.com/the-legend/.